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Residential Estate Security Handbook 2018

Secure in their retirement years
August 2018, This Week's Editor's Pick, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Access Control & Identity Management, Residential Estate (Industry)

La Vie is a retirement village in Centurion with a mixed bag of residents, some well-off and some lower down on the income scale. Due to the mixture of residents, the village has had to get along on a limited budget for capital expenditure for many years. With this in mind, the residents have approved expenditure on certain security hardware over the years. However, they did so with little knowledge as to their risks or vulnerabilities.

They erected a wall-top electrified fence, which they maintain themselves and placed analogue cameras facing their access gates. Since the installation of their security measures, they experienced sporadic petty crime, including minor breaking and entering as well as money, jewellery and electronic item theft.

Towards the end of 2016, however, the crime started to escalate to the extent that one resident woke up to find three criminals standing over her bed. They threatened to end her life if she did not hand over the money and the new laptop computer they knew she had. Thus, internal crime intelligence was finding its way to the criminal elements outside the village.

Quite naturally, the events left the residents with little faith in their security measures, with many of them increasingly worried about their personal safety. On the positive side, the village had a security committee that took its work very seriously.

One of the members of the security committee attended an evening event hosted by a property management firm where Andy Lawler from Sentinel Risk Management gave a talk on estate security, due to the security assessments done by him at many of the estates run by this company. The security committee member approached Lawler and after a lengthy discussion, invited Sentinel Risk Management to address the security committee.

At this meeting, it was decided that Lawler would carry out a Threat, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (TRVA) for La Vie.

Strengths and weaknesses

Upon assessment, it was noticed that the following security measures were in place:

• A security guard provided access control at the main gate over a 24-hour period.

• The registering of domestic workers and care-givers: they hand in their ID and receive a care-giver card.

• The perimeter consisted of a single layer, 2.5 m high brick walls topped with an 8-strand electrified fence with a 6 Joule energiser.

• There were also intermittent sections of rolled barbed-wire over some of the high-risk sections.

• An aged, 4-camera analogue CCTV system (with a mixed-bag of camera types) covered the two gates to the village.

The weaknesses highlighted in the assessment included:

• The electrified fence was poorly installed, and although the current passing over the fence was adequate, as well as legal in terms of SANS 14000, there were places where the fence left gaps big enough to allow access between the fence and the wall. This was compensated for by means of barbed wire.

• The electrified fence shared with the Protea Retirement Village behind La Vie was installed and owned by the Protea and thus could not be joined to the La Vie fence. This left an airwall between the two fences. This airwall, however, was approximately 43 cm wide and thus gave easy access and egress to those with criminal intent.

• The camera system on the two gates was completely inadequate and the footage observed was grainy and illegible.

• The village is adjacent to an open field, known for its inhabitation by the homeless and there are often raids being carried out in the area. This was taken into consideration as a weakness during the assessment in terms of the guard being overpowered by belligerents, putting every resident at risk.

• The wiring of most of the security measures was placed in white conduit, which had aged and crumbled due to exposure, thus the wiring itself, by implication, was exposed to the elements. Most of which had already begun cracking.

Once the TRVA had been completed, another meeting was held where all the results of the assessment were discussed as well as the recommended remedial actions. Lawler informed the committee of the potential security breach implications should the village decide to stick to its security status quo, as well as the potential implications should they decide to follow the recommendations set out in Sentinel’s report.

The committee took the measures advised to approval level and then contacted the various installers which were recommended in the report due to their reputation. They asked for quotations and eventually chose to approach Gary Swart of Rhyco Risk Projects.

Getting approval

As in most cases involving an upgrade or even new installations, the question of available funds is always an issue and security is generally, although mistakenly, seen as a grudge purchase. However, in this case, even though this solution was slightly above their available budget, the village decided to go ahead as the benefit far outweighed the cost.

The only obstacle was to get the residents of the village onto the same page as the committee and thus a meeting was hosted by Lawler, explaining the vulnerabilities and the benefits of the upgrade. Although there were still one or two people who had reservations, the vast majority were positive.

The solutions implemented

Some of the solutions advised for La Vie were to be carried out by the village itself under the auspices of its security committee members, while others needed to be outsourced to Rhyco. The committee took responsibility for the following:

• Closing the gaps in the electrified fence, according to the recommendations in the report.

• To repair the wiring protection with durable trunking/conduit. (Part done by the committee and part done by Rhyco Risk Projects.)

• To weld closed a large storm-water drainage grill which could potentially provide access to the village from outside.

Further to these changes handled by the committee, Rhyco Risk Projects was tasked with the installation and configuration of the following:

• To replace the existing CCTV system with a modern, planned system covering the whole perimeter and the access gates. This system was to not only provide footage and management information, but also detect intrusion by means of a line crossing analytics. Rhyco selected Hikvision IP cameras for this task.

• The CCTV system was further enhanced in its efficacy by means of 24-hour surveillance provided by the control room at Rhyco Risk Projects.

• The security guard service La Vie had was altered to include only one guard during the day, as this is the busy time at the village, and none at night. Access control to emergency vehicles after hours was provided by the control room at Rhyco Risk Projects.

Up and running

Rhyco Risk Projects conducted the installation and supplied a dedicated team to start with the installation. The team consisted of a project manager, a team leader technician leading the team, technicians and labourers.

Swart explains that the team leader planned the installation to ensure correct installation, configuration and safety. All wiring was done in metal bosal conduit for additional protection. Proper earthing was done on all the camera poles and the control room for protection.

On completion, the system was tested in the presence of the client, commissioned with analytics being set up and handed over to the client together with all the relevant paperwork. Training sessions were scheduled to ensure everyone knew how to make optimal use of the solution.

Rhyco also assisted in upgrading the access control along with installing the Hikvision IP cameras to replace the analogue system. Rhyco does the off-site monitoring for the client and handles all the maintenance services for the estate.

The benefit derived from this new solution is peace of mind for the residents in that they are assured that the vulnerabilities identified have been taken care of in a cost-effective and thorough manner. To date, the estate has been incident free.

For more information contact:

Rhyco Risk Projects, +27 83 306 5499,,

Sentinel Risk Management, +27 82 953 1594,,

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