Upgraded security and AI monitoring at upmarket estate

Issue 5 2022 Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions, Residential Estate (Industry)

An upmarket estate in Gauteng comprises over 400 landowners made up of full-title stands and four sectional-title developments. The estate includes a number of amenities such as squash courts, tennis courts, swimming pools, clubhouses, children’s play park, paved and wooden bridges and walkways along the scenic banks of four lakes which border its northern boundary.

With a perimeter of around 4,7 km, security is naturally an essential component of the estate. Recently, the estate decided to upgrade its security systems to reflect the current needs of the community and take advantage of the latest security technology and services.

In terms of access control, the estate wanted an alternative to the tag/card access control system which was being used at the time. The risk with the tag/card system was that criminals could access the estate using a lost, stolen or duplicate tag/card. While many estates have opted for biometric systems for access control, the HoA decided against touch-based biometrics due to the risk of Covid-19 and other viruses. It therefore needed a touch-free authentication system.

On the perimeter, it was decided that surveillance cameras were going to be the first line of defence against potential breaches. At the same time, cameras were also required to monitor vehicles entering and exiting the estate and alert the operators of suspicious vehicles.

Cameras were also required internally as the security team wanted to be able to maintain a general overview of communal areas and alert operators to activities occurring during certain times, while also being able to track and find people who managed to gain access without authorisation.

A combination of security resources

The estate decided to make use of its existing guarding and armed response company, as well as surveillance technology specialist Watcher, to find a solution to its security needs.

The partners proposed a solution which consisted of eight internal cameras, four LPR (licence plate recognition) cameras, and 31 cameras to cover the perimeter. In addition, a fibre Internet connection was required which would ensure the camera feeds were sent directly to the Watcher Video Management System (driven by artificial intelligence), which is hosted in the cloud.

The LPR cameras would allow Watcher to monitor vehicles entering and exiting the premises, and reference the licence plates against a database of vehicles that have been stolen or used in criminal activities. The system also provides notifications about a vehicle if it is on a ‘not allowed’ list.

Watcher’s intelligent software monitors the video feeds in accordance with the specific requirements of the estate, and raises an alert based on predefined criteria. Additionally, all recordings are hosted in the cloud and will be kept for an agreed period.

The security service provider also makes use of the video feeds for constant offsite monitoring, with assistance from Watcher’s AI and Alert Manager. When Watcher’s AI detects a specific event, the operator will receive the alert, verify the incident and notify the guards on site. When needed, the operator can also dispatch the nearest patrolling unit.

Integrated and reliable solution

Adhering to the touchless requirements of the estate, facial recognition was implemented to replace the old access control system. In addition, the service providers had to ensure that the new access control system was integrated with the estate’s existing visitor management system in order for the two systems to function seamlessly in parallel.

Naturally, a backup power system with a centralised power source and UPS with backup generator was required to guarantee system uptime during load shedding and extended power outages. To ensure there were no unpleasant surprises due to maintenance or unexpected costs, the support and maintenance of all cameras, software and infrastructure on site was included as part of the monthly charge.

“This is an effective partnership that combines the security service provider’s strengths in handling the security elements, while Watcher’s core competence is engineering expertise along with surveillance technology solutions. The relationship is symbiotic and complementary, resulting in an effective security service that has true pre-crime capabilities,” says Watcher’s Barry van Sittert. “The value of the partnership provides a reliable security solution by leveraging the strengths of Watcher and its partner to create a win-win scenario.”

Watcher offers a reliable CCTV surveillance system that is always on and won’t miss a thing, along with the knowledge that video footage is safely stored in the cloud. The AI that is applied to the video surveillance is also far more effective than traditional guarding on its own. A key element of the solution is that the system logs all incidents detected and actions taken. This allows the estate to hold its service providers accountable, knowing that the records can’t be bypassed and altered by people.

For Watcher’s part, it offers proven surveillance technology services and manages the technical operational elements, which delivers an enhanced security offering combining premium security services along with the latest in automated, AI-driven surveillance technologies and full maintenance of the infrastructure, including onsite and offsite IT systems, all software deployment and upgrades, as well as telecommunications.

Comments Van Sittert: “Watcher’s solutions provide security companies with the opportunity to offer their customers an advanced and reliable surveillance solution, without the need to invest heavily in establishing internal surveillance and technology capabilities.”


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