Questions to ask before signing on the dotted line

Issue 3 2022 Smart Home Automation

Home and business security is a market segment that is growing at a rapid rate. Technology is developing in leaps and bounds, and at the end of the day it is very easy to be overwhelmed when trying to choose the right company to look after your residence or your place of work.

“The growth of the security market is good news for the consumer. New products and service offerings are developed every year, and the cost of these options have also become far more affordable than they were just a few years back,” says Charnel Hattingh, head of communications and marketing for the Fidelity Services Group.

“This constant growth has placed the power in the hands of the customer, who can now enjoy the best technological solution based on the budget that is available. It also means that you can regularly revisit your chosen solutions to see if anything better or more cost effective has become available,” says Hattingh.

But with this power of choice comes some responsibility, she cautions. “It is important to study the terms and conditions of your contract before you sign. You must make sure you understand exactly what type of service you can expect in an emergency. Ask as many questions as you need until you are comfortable with your decision.”

Armed response vs. monitoring

A key difference between the available service options revolves around whether your service provider offers armed response or not. This applies to both business and residential security measures, and there is a definite cost difference between the two options.

“On one hand you have a company that will simply monitor your alarm system and alert you if they receive an alarm signal. It is your duty to then call SAPS or law enforcement if you need assistance. On the other hand, you have a company that will send an armed response officer to investigate the alarm signal that was received and potentially apprehend a suspect,” explains Hattingh.

Training, firearms and protection

If your company provides firearms to their response officers or guards, you must ask about the weapons training that is provided. Are you confident that the officers are competent to handle these weapons, and are they provided with adequate refresher training?

“It is also a good idea to ask the company what weapons they issue to their personnel. Some companies choose not to issue non-lethal weapons,” says Hattingh.

Security companies that offer guarding services – especially if these guards are deployed in potentially dangerous environments such as crowd control or protests – must be able to show you that they provide proper body armour as well as vehicles that are protected against gunfire or other attacks.

Up to date tech

Technology is perhaps one of the biggest growth areas in the security industry, with products available today that make it easier to predict crime trends and in so doing, put measures in place that provide a more effective response.

“Control rooms at security companies can now make use of artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse available crime-related data faster and more efficiently. Motion activated cameras are deployed in conjunction with licence plate recognition camera systems, to spread a net that makes it ever more difficult for criminals to avoid detection. We have also seen a rapid increase in the use of aerial drones to locate and apprehend criminals that are on the run.

“All of these technological innovations can be used together with well-resourced and properly trained response officers and guards. The information gleaned from these systems helps ensure that they are deployed effectively, which ultimately, is good news for the customer,” says Hattingh.

A reputable company will make sure that every customer is offered the best possible options for their unique circumstances, backed up by the best available technology and well-trained and equipped personnel. This company should also regularly do a review of customers’ needs, to determine if requirements have changed and if newer technological advancements might be suitable for consideration.

Security, she adds, should never be a decision that you take based purely on cost considerations. “The cheapest option could end up costing you when you don’t get the help you really need in an emergency.”

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