Keeping tabs offsite

July 2012 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

Is remote monitoring the answer? Hi-Tech Security Solutions spoke to three industry stakeholders to find out.

All three interviewees agreed that in order to make your remote monitoring provide maximised return on investment, it was necessary to differentiate between random surveillance as opposed to event driven surveillance and monitoring.

“In essence, your event or incident driven monitoring will be based on a predetermined trigger, such as an alarm being activated, unauthorised access to specific areas, or movement detected by a surveillance camera. The reaction to this event is documented in the standard operating procedures (SOP) and provides the control room personnel with the course of action to be followed,” says Jacques Du Toit, MD of VoxOrion Telecom.

Jacques du Toit
Jacques du Toit

Du Toit believes that this targeted monitoring is fast replacing generalised surveillance and guarding.

Roy Wyman, MD of Remote Off-Site Monitoring (ROM), said that while many companies had entered the fray in the past two years, there was unfortunately little control in terms of service levels. “Many businesses have had their fingers burned by so-called service providers who had little understanding of what remote monitoring entails. The nett result is that these customers have now returned to security officer patrols and refuse to entertain any discussion of remote monitoring.

Roy Wyman
Roy Wyman

“There is a misconception in the industry of what true offsite monitoring actually is and whether it is, in fact, actually feasible for a specific application. Often there are just too many cameras on a site. In these cases, it is advisable to reduce the number of cameras to those areas where events are anticipated. By eliminating dumb cameras and replacing them with cameras that have sensing intelligence, you effectively isolate cameras to the monitoring to incidents,” Wyman explained.

“Your most effective solution is one where your remote monitoring team is able to use input acquired to institute action by security officers and/or the SAPS in order to counter the possible threat,” says Du Toit. “The beauty of relying on remote monitoring via surveillance cameras, is that any collusion that may have been apparent onsite is removed and cameras are continuously reliable, as long as they are properly maintained.”

Bertus van Jaarsveld, CEO of Miro Distribution said that with the advent of lower bandwidth rates, on H.264 compression, the availability of reliable monitoring has increased. He said his company has seen a trend emerging whereby larger property management companies have centralised the remote monitoring of a number of smaller properties into one control room. “More cost effective and widespread bandwidth provides a far greater opportunity for companies to capitalise on the advantages of wireless monitoring.”

Bertus van Jaarsveld
Bertus van Jaarsveld

This begs the question: “Is there still a place for patrolling security officers?” Du Toit said that if you factor in the annual costs of employing a security officer, you could acquire 10 surveillance cameras at the same price. “CCTV cameras in remote monitoring are event driven, as opposed to your security officer who patrols your facilities, covering large areas where nothing is happening.”

“If you have people keeping an eye on your assets by monitoring them, you will definitely reduce the physical guarding required. In addition, by utilising remote monitoring geared around events, as opposed to non events, you will also reduce the number of personnel required in the control room,” says Van Jaarsveld.

“We currently monitor over 2000 cameras in the industry and we have seen a marked reduction in the number of security officers required. In fact, at night we have completely eliminated their services by deploying cameras where surveillance is required. By remotely locking down shopping centres and providing remote monitoring of the exterior of the buildings at night, we are able to guarantee that fraud and collusion are removed,” says Wyman.

Thinking ahead

It is important, if one is considering the implementation of a remote monitoring service, to ensure that a careful analysis of hot spots is conducted in order to provide a system that reacts to real-time incidents.

“Up front communication is the first critical step when utilising remote monitoring,” says Du Toit. “As a service provider, you need to find the best solutions to the client’s threats and risks and program the hardware and software to trigger a response in the control room. When an event does occur, the SOP will provide the control room employees with a systematic set of procedures to ensure that the threat is alleviated, in a manner that holds the least possible risk to property and person.”

An incident management platform and a reporting program round out the service offering. “In order to gain maximum benefit from remote monitoring, daily event reporting (if applicable) as well as a weekly summary and comprehensive monthly report, will provide the client with critical information on their areas of high risk and allow them to implement systems or technology to counter these risks on a proactive basis.”

Bang for your buck?

Van Jaarsveld feels that the short-term cost of remote monitoring, when undertaken by professional service providers, is quickly recouped by the reduction of costs involved in setting up an onsite control room as well as the cost of employing security officers.

Wyman and Du Toit concur with Van Jaarsveld. “The crux is that the system needs to be properly maintained. If you have contracted to a reputable service provider with a good track record, you will receive the guarantee that if you are not happy with the service provided, you can opt out after a 30-day notice period,” says Wyman.

Citing how remote monitoring can reap benefits for clients, Wyman pointed out that a client who has 22 warehouses serviced by ROM, has lost only one carton of cigarettes in five years. “This clearly highlights that shrinkage has been alleviated to almost zero.”

Du Toit added that implementing remote monitoring can result in a saving of up to 40% and it is more effective in deterring criminal activity.

“It is important for clients to visit the remote monitoring company’s facilities and question the service provider about a credible footprint, before any decisions are made to move their monitoring offsite,” said Wyman. “In addition, the specific needs of each client should be carefully considered through a complete risk analysis. Providing customised systems, as opposed to boxed solutions, differentiates serious remote monitoring companies from the opportunists.”

On offer

* VoxOrion Telecom launched its iComply incident management platform in October 2011. The system has been designed to provide guidance on weaknesses and risks within security installations. “The time to acceptance has been longer than we expected but the uptake has improved and we have had great success with the clients who have adopted the concept,” says Jacques du Toit.

* The Radwin 5000 mobility solution from Miro, is a carrier grade mobile monitoring option. Using a vehicle equipped with dome cameras and an onboard control room, this new product is ideal for remote monitoring on the go. “The Radwin 5000 provides users with the advantage of quicker and faster decision making. This durable, robust solution can operate in all environments and weather conditions,” says Bertus van Jaarsveld.

* Roy Wyman says that the current trend that ROM is seeing is the deployment of remotely activated smoke and pepper spray machines. “In addition, we can provide a fire alarm monitoring service by interfacing our own system directly to the fire panels. On a less product-oriented note, we now offer existing security monitoring companies the opportunity to partner with us, whereby we host and man the control room, but it is branded with the channel partner’s name.”


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