Businesses are at increasing risk of being targeted by criminal syndicates due to a growing demand for high-tech equipment across South Africa’s borders. As businesses invest in more high-tech equipment such as computer monitors, lap-tops and servers, they become more popular targets for syndicates specialising in supplying this demand.
In addition to being at risk of criminals looking to steal computers and other high-tech equipment, jewellery, watch and cellphone stores are increasingly being targeted. The modus operandi of the suspects involved in these robberies is to gain entry to the store by smashing through the front doors of the premises, often in the early hours of the morning, and stealing high value items from display cases. In most cases it appears that the stores have been visited in advance of the attack as the suspects appear to be well acquainted with the whereabouts of the highest valued items in the store. Stores located in shopping centres and hotels have been targeted.
The suspects are brazen; they’re armed, operate in gangs of four to six members and are normally in and out within three to five minutes. They also act upon their own intel. Due to the reward associated with these crimes, businesses will continue to be at risk of burglaries and robberies, and this is why integrated – or converged – security approaches are so critical.
With this in mind, another issue currently facing commercial players is that budgets are under pressure and many businesses are, therefore, taking shortcuts on security, resulting in poorer quality of services. However, this is another aspect that can be addressed by the concept of an integrated security solution. The ideal safety and security solution is a blend of better guarding skills, intelligence gathering, and new technology. It is a concept that places quality above quantity and ultimately results in not only a cost-effective solution to fighting crime, but the only tangible solution to crime.
Division of labour
Integrated security approaches which balance the responsibilities and capabilities of both manpower and technology provide the best possible solutions to crime, and are being widely implemented throughout the commercial security sectors in South Africa and globally.
In the past, businesses relied primarily on physical security guards to act as both deterrents and respondents to crime, and during those times this layer of security – perhaps with the addition of alarm systems – was sufficient. However, criminals have become increasingly smarter and more brazen and as such, businesses have had to do a lot more to protect their employees, equipment and products.
Fortunately though, technology has been evolving, and continues to evolve, at a phenomenal pace, and has provided the security industry with an array of options for optimal protection. Of even greater benefit is that this technology is not only able to perform multiple and impressive security tasks, but the various components can be fully integrated to provide complete security and risk management services.
A major misconception is that technology is able to replace manpower. This, in fact, could not be further from the truth, for although technological capabilities are able to do so much more than humans can, the technology is heavily dependent on the human factor for success. Security guards and other manpower are therefore crucial to integrated security approaches as they not only need to operate the various technologies, but interpret and respond to them. The perfect security strategy is ultimately a blend of both technical capabilities and the skills and abilities of thinking and responding human beings. In essence, they complement each other.
It is also imperative that personnel tasked with operating the various technology and equipment are trained to do so. All too often we see very expensive, sophisticated systems being installed but the client expects a security guard to operate it. It is counter-productive to invest heavily in technology and then try to save costs on the operator – after all, there is no point in having the latest technology if it is not being used to its full potential, or used correctly.
The right tool for the job
As mentioned previously, technology that is able to be integrated as part of converged security solutions is currently providing the best security coverage for businesses. The ultimate security strategy includes the use of technology that is able to deter criminals, detect any breaches, and assist security professionals and police with responding to any threats.
State-of-the-art technology which is currently seeing great success in the commercial sector includes Remote Video Verification (RVV) and Virtual Patrol technology. Obviously alarm systems and high-quality CCTV cameras go a long way in securing businesses’ premises, but these are more effective as part of integrated security setups. Various analytics technologies are also proving to be very successful in the commercial sector. Some of these include video and data analytics and number plate recognition.
While there are no particular technologies that are, by their nature, ineffective, many businesses place sole importance on particular pieces of technology that may not be as effective in securing their premises. For example, many business owners may feel that having an alarm system is enough, but on its own an alarm will do very little to deter criminals. Yes, it will help mitigate risk and alert a company’s security company to any breaches, but overall it is not going to prevent crime or necessarily result in any arrests. Another example is CCTV cameras. Again, these do not necessarily serve as deterrents and if they are not of good quality, their images may not even be helpful after a crime is committed. However, linking alarms and CCTV cameras to RVV technology will provide a potent layer of security.
It is not necessarily a case of technology not working well, but rather an issue of certain technology not being used in the right places or in the right ways.
Shortcuts can lead to disaster
There are a number of factors that business owners and operators currently overlook when putting their security systems and strategies in place, and some of them are relatively simple. Added to this, reduced budgets are also resulting in security shortcuts.
Technology aside, many businesses owners fail to adequately secure their premises. Despite knowing that criminals usually come prepared with crowbars, bolt cutters and other robust equipment with which to force entry, we still see many businesses using glass doors or flimsy gates on their store/business premises fronts. We understand that this is primarily for aesthetic reasons, but when it comes to securing their properties, owners need to put stronger barriers in place.
Business and/or operations managers also need to take more care when hiring security guards. Often security guards are not adequately trained or skilled, and this can be detrimental to business security, employees, and even their own safety. This is why employing the services of guards through accredited service providers like Enforce is recommended.
Non-compliance is also a huge problem at the moment for businesses, and many owners and security operators find themselves working with or employing the security services of non-compliant officers or staff from non-compliant companies. Sometimes this is done unknowingly but other times it is a deliberate move as large, corporate consumers are putting aside legislation in favour of cheaper services.
This practice not only undermines the professionalism of the industry but also puts at risk the quality of security services provided, as non-compliant companies, which win lucrative tenders based on offering cheaper services, are ultimately robbing their most important assets – their security officers. These security officers are denied basic employment benefits such as leave and overtime pay, to name a few, which not only impacts their lives and those of their families, but also, understandably, affects their level of service.
With regards to technology, we often see businesses sacrificing quality of technology for quantity, or merely to save money. This is a big mistake as lower quality products will not sufficiently protect businesses. Cheaper equipment may not work as well, or may malfunction. CCTV cameras without good image quality are also of no help. As mentioned above, this is where a converged security approach can be useful. However, even if businesses are only able to afford one or two particular security components this can also go a long way to offering protection, provided those particular pieces of equipment are of high quality and strategically placed.
An arsenal of integrated solutions
Enforce Security offers a number of security solutions in the commercial space, particularly all the necessary components for integrated security solutions. A major benefit of our offering is that we supply and manage security solutions from start to finish, enabling business owners, managers and security operators in the commercial sector to deal only with us, and not a number of operators for different components.
While we also offer an array of solutions for residential and estate security, our commercial offering includes several components:
Our onsite security guards are of great benefit to the commercial industry as not only do they, to a certain extent, act as a deterrent, but they are also trained to adequately monitor threats and respond as required. In addition to their own training, our guards are put through vigorous in-house training and skills programmes. We conduct thorough background checks on our guards and also evaluate their personalities and characteristics in order to match them to specific clients.
Alarm monitoring and armed response
This is an integral aspect of an integrated security solution and we pride ourselves on the calibre of our operations centre staff that monitor the alarms, and our reaction officers who respond to them.
Enforce Security has for years been at the cutting edge of technology and is an industry leader in this respect. Furthermore, our technology systems are of the highest quality. The following technology is particularly successful in the commercial sector.
Remote video verification
In a remote video verification environment, a client’s alarm and CCTV system is linked to our video monitoring platform. This gives our controllers access to live CCTV pictures as well as a pre-event video clip each time there is an alarm activation. Our controllers are then able to verify the cause of the alarm immediately and provide an appropriate response based on this. In the event of a positive break-in, they would dispatch multiple vehicles as well as the police and other state services. They can also activate lights, release pepper spray or perform an ‘audio talk down’ where they can verbally warn the intruders to leave the site immediately via onsite speakers.
Our virtual patrols are utilised instead of, or in conjunction with, physical guarding services. This is a process whereby our operators are presented with video pictures from a site based on a predefined schedule. This schedule is defined based on the particular site requirements. The virtual patrol is presented with a sequence from key cameras and patrolled in the same way a physical guard would work around a site. If any suspicious activity is detected during the patrol the operator would dispatch the necessary response services immediately.
Our Watchmen for Business security strategy has been specially designed to offer a wide net of security services in one integrated system. The individual capabilities offer each other individual support and ‘speak’ to each other in a way that ensures there are no security vulnerabilities.
Traditional alarm systems offer an essential degree of protection, but having these systems connected to Watchmen CCTV towers gives Enforce even more control of criminal threats. In addition to having guards physically on site, the live streaming capabilities of these towers enables business owners to monitor their sites in real time from any location, while at the same time giving Enforce’s 24-hour control room immediate video footage of the site at the time of alarm activation. Using this, operators can accurately assess the situation, keep visuals of the threat, and dispatch the appropriate response.
The Watchmen cameras also allow Enforce’s control room operators to undertake frequent virtual patrols through all Watchmen cameras in a particular area, business park or site. Any suspicious activity they notice is immediately reported, and can be investigated by teams on the ground. With high-resolution imaging, Enforce’s control room is, furthermore, not only able to capture complete records of all activity surrounding clients’ business premises, but give a 2-week data storage capacity should they need to access footage in the event of a criminal incident. Such capabilities also allow our private investigators the opportunity to view footage and gain vital clues during initial investigation processes.
Our private investigation capabilities are essential to any integrated security approach as the only way to really stop crime is to get the criminals off the streets. And the only way to do this is to know who they are and where they are. Our private investigators have years of police and military experience, and also operate with the assistance of informer networks. For business security, this element is incredibly useful as they are able to identify members of the various syndicates carrying out crimes in the commercial sector.
Enforce Security employs a full-time crime analyst whose job it is to analyse statistical data extracted from Chase, our Electronic Incident Management (EIM) platform, for the purpose of predictive policing. In conjunction with other gathered data, our crime analyst is able to identify the various trends and hotspots that are presenting themselves to the various market sectors. The information gathered by the crime analyst is not limited to internal reports, but extends to a vast array of external information and is therefore not limited to Enforce clients.
Fully integrated property services offerings
Enforce clients are able to enjoy the benefits of our business partnering with Excellerate Property Services, a venture that truly allows for a fully integrated service offering. As
much as security budgets are under pressure, so too are operating budgets, and this is where Excellerate’s integrated property service offering, which provides one-stop delivery of a broad spectrum of property-related services, becomes an extremely attractive proposition.
In addition to security, our extensive range of property services includes property management, facilities management, leasing and sales broking, cleaning and hygiene, parking management, repairs and maintenance, utilities, development and project management, pest control and landscaping, among others.
Enforce’s clients ultimately see the benefits of service integration in their properties and on their bottom line because we are able to achieve measurable operational efficiencies by leveraging joint operational resources and implementing best practice operational processes.
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