Intruder detection is becoming smarter and more mobile

May 2019 Editor's Choice, Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection

Gone are the days when intrusion detection relied solely on mechanical sensors on doors and windows, and unreliable or over-sensitive PIR (passive infrared) detectors. From simple security beams to thermal detection and even radar, contactless technologies are now the norm when it comes to detecting physical presence. Alongside the new technologies continually being developed, existing technologies are being co-opted into not only performing an intrusion detection role, but combatting that bane of the electronic security industry: false alarms.

Video verification and analytics

Ingo Mutinelli.
Ingo Mutinelli.

“Video verification has been used successfully over the last few years and there is now empirical data on how effective it is,” says Ingo Mutinelli, business development director at Elvey Security Technologies. “Banks have been using video verification and have proactively managed to monitor their systems in banks and ATMs, with the real-time video clips showing controllers the actual event as opposed to a signal on its own. This has helped in false alarm identification and a reduction in deploying response incorrectly – as well as the verification of positive alarms to forewarn response teams of what to expect on site, and where.

“There will always be a need to use intrusion products in conjunction with surveillance products, whether they use video analytics or not. On their own these features and products are not as accurate as a well-placed PIR or specialised beam (of high quality) to use as a trigger. Intrusion systems have also managed to stay relevant with apps, push notification and integration with surveillance products. Intrusion products still play a vital role in the layers of security required to effectively protect and monitor a property.”

Ruaan Fourie.
Ruaan Fourie.

In the experience of Ruaan Fourie, intrusion product manager at Regal Distributors, video verification has indeed been adopted by many monitoring companies throughout South Africa and many other parts of Africa to ensure that only actual events need to be responded to. “Verification provides the necessary details for security companies to gear them up with the correct resources in the event that threats are imminent. This further reduces their operational costs, thus ensuring that these companies do not spend unnecessary resources on false alarms,” he says.

Video analytics can be used to enhance detection, but there is a cost to be reckoned with and advanced analytics are still expensive to implement. As a result, Fourie says that such solutions are more likely to be used in the commercial, corporate and industrial sectors, while the good old-fashioned PIR and other intrusion solutions are more suitable for the residential market due to their cost effectiveness.

Fourie also points out that, although largely dependent on network service providers and/or the Internet through cloud services, video verification services can be jeopardised in the event that they become unavailable due to power failures, especially as seen throughout the recent power outages across South Africa.

Modern users expect mobility

“Most manufacturers of alarm/intrusion security products offer integrated applications that allow the user to drive their intrusion systems and bring in video and automation features – all on a slick and easy-to-use-interface on a mobile device or PC,” Mutinelli continues. “This mobile technology is totally customisable and also sends push notifications to the user so that the interaction is two-way: the user can interrogate the system at will and the system alerts the user of predefined events.”

Mobile functionality goes hand-in-hand with reliable telecommunications, and Mutinelli points out that GSM is continuing to grow with the increased feature set that it offers users. “As cell coverage gets better and more reliable, users of GSM technology can offer customers a stable, far-reaching service. GSM also offers more information down the line when monitoring systems. Bidirectional communication from site to transmitter is also a plus for management of devices in the field – two-way, remote capability makes multiple sites in remote areas easy to manage. 4G and 5G make this even easier and faster,” he says.

By allowing users to control multiple sites and/or properties from a single platform, mobile apps provide full control including arming, disarming and bypassing, in addition to many other features, Fourie explains. These include the ability to control lighting or any other form of electrical appliance including geyser control, as well as live viewing from systems which have installed cameras with built-in two-way communication. In the event of triggered events from such alarms, the user can immediately receive mobile notifications from the system alerting them thereof, and if fitted with proprietary system cameras, they would also receive further information via means of image snapshots or video clips.

Among the solutions Regal supplies for communications are multi-socket IP modules to allow simultaneous communication to multiple destinations. This enables the system to communicate over a TCP/IP network, direct link and/or via the cloud as the primary communication link. In the case of communication failure, backup is typically via GSM/GPRS, 3G, LTE or PSTN communication.

Many options available

The array of intruder detection products in the market is vast, but when asked to name some stand-out contenders in Elvey’s stable, Mutinelli singles out the Permaconn products which work over IP networks and Vodacom and MTN mobile networks; Tyco Security Products’ DSC Neo and iotega; Fibaro smart home devices; and ZeroWire home automation solutions.

As for Regal’s offering in this application area, it includes multi-socket IP modules and communicators allowing multi-path destinations via means of various communication paths; and various indoor and outdoor detectors (supplied in both hardwired and wireless options) with technologies such as anti-cloak, anti-masking and digital-correlation with high catch performance and minimal false alarms.


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