Changing of the guard, AI style

June 2019 Integrated Solutions, Security Services & Risk Management

Active Track, known for its guard monitoring and management tools and services, is launching a raft of new services with which it intends to turn the security world as we know it on its head. With the help of developers from Sugarplum Digital, Active Track is deploying the latest in locally developed AI technology to make guarding, guard management and armed response services more efficient and trustworthy.

To facilitate its new technology-driven services, Active Track has moved into new premises that will incorporate a SAIDSA-approved control room. The premises has been connected to six WAN connections, both wired and wireless, to ensure the company is always connected to its partners and clients in order to ensure security information always gets where it is intended to be.

The data centre is a level-3 environment, which means full redundancy in everything from power to processing to storage. The system currently hosts 4000 tenants (Active Track customers, each of which has one or more users). The management system that will host the future of guarding is the AI-based Maestro platform, developed locally by Sugarplum under the banner of manage anything, capture anything, process anything without changing a single line of code.

Active Track’s Danie de Villiers explains that the company is launching all of its new products under the same service-driven approach. In other words, customers will pay a monthly rental fee to use the products and associated services, while the costs of the hardware, software, connectivity and control room etc. will be handled by Active Track (the same model used today for the Active Track device, see more at

Getting the message through

One of the issues all guarding companies face is ensuring messages get through to the right people and the right time, i.e. immediately. SMS is not guaranteed and up to 8% of messages may not arrive at all, never mind in a few minutes, which is unacceptable in an emergency. Active track has customised the Telegram messaging platform (a secure, open source messaging platform) to ensure that messages get through in less than three seconds. Moreover, reports can be accessed in the same way, allowing supervisors, for example, to view alarms and events and drill down for more information (depending on their function).

The server is controlled by Active Track so there is no delay. For example, a supervisor will get the same message as the control room at the same time, and be able to drill down to get more information when, for example, a guard fails to register at a specific point within an allotted time. Both parties will use the information according to the client’s specific operating procedures, which are loaded into Maestro. The supervisor will be able to drill down and find out more, such as why the event happened and whether it is a regular occurrence etc. without having to open an application or log into their computer.

In order to prevent people, such as managers, from being bombarded with messages, the system can be set to send a report to them at specific intervals containing all the activity over the preceding period. Once again, if there is anything of concern, the user can drill down for more information and set additional response activities into motion.

Similarly, Active Eye is the offsite video monitoring service from the company, also enhanced by AI. The system uses behavioural analytics to learn the behaviour of the scene (or the patterns) and then automatically raises the alarm when something out of the ordinary happens. For example, if nobody is ever in the factory at 9 pm, as soon as it sees a person there at that time it will create an event supported by a video clip which is sent to the control room. It also includes facial recognition and automated licence plate recognition (ALPR) functionality. Sugarplum’s Gerhard Furter says the system can already recognise thousands of objects – such as humans, cars, bikes, cats etc.

One of the benefits of the Active Eye system is that it can use any IP camera with a recommended 2 MP resolution. As before, once something is detected it can send a message to the control room as well as to the guard on site (or whoever needs to get the message).

Voice in the machine

The control room also has its own AI to speed responses to security events. When an alarm is raised, instead of waiting for an operator to call to verify the alarm, Active Track uses a chatbot developed by Sugarplum. This chatbot does not send a text message, but makes a call to the customer, verifies whether the alarm is real or not, asks for their code word and then, if necessary, dispatch a response unit.

All this is done verbally. The customer takes a call from the system and talks to it as they would a human operator. Furter says the system can also detect subterfuge or key words that could alter the response, and it is able to perform voice stress analysis to judge the emotions of the customer, which may prompt the AI to refer the call to a human.

In terms of dispatching a vehicle, this is also AI enhanced. In most armed response situations, the guarding company dispatches the vehicle assigned to the area in which the alarm is raised, or the one closest to the location of the alarm. In Maestro’s case, the AI looks at the traffic patterns around the location and sends whichever vehicle will get there first, even if it is further away.

Taking its AI to the consumer level, Active Track will soon be launching its Active Panic device. This is a panic button with a 7-day battery life, GPS that measures to an accuracy of 2 metres and works with four GPS systems (from the USA, China, EU and Russia), and connects to cellular networks for data communications.

When the user presses the panic button from any of the major centres in South Africa, the guarding company partnering with Active Track will be notified and, as above, a call made and a vehicle dispatched. This service will cost users around R150 per month, including the device and communications costs. More information will be released on Active Panic soon.

Integrated visitor management

A new visitor management solution is also being released as part of Active Cloud, this will combine various products, including those mentioned above, as well as an electronic incident book. It combines Active Eye and a management platform to control ingress and egress to estates, business parks and more. An electronic device is supplied to the location which scans licence discs and drivers’ licences – which is similar to other visitor management systems available.

However, integrating services from Metagrated, it also links to the SAPS suspicious vehicle database and will alert guards if a suspect vehicle is requesting access. The incident book will also provide management reports at regular intervals, or immediately if there is a problem. Any alarms are also integrated into the Maestro platform.

Smart functionality is also included. For example, at closing time the system will highlight if people entered the premises but have not left yet, and it can also link visitors to the person they are going to see, allowing security personnel to follow up with the residents or tenants.

While the new Active Track products are available as separate products, they are also integrated to deliver the solution the client wants and allow them to get the best out of the AI system. All systems are linked to the same ‘blind’ control room (running the Maestro PSIM), where operators only work with events as they are raised, and every customer defines what response they want for different events. Maestro guides the operator through what actions must be performed.

All the new products and services Active Track is launching work on the same model as its Active Track devices. The device and communications are provided and supported by the company at a set monthly fee. De Villiers says this is the first time technology will have such a significant impact on the security market. More tasks will be handled by technology, while personnel will be able to develop better skills and actually create a career path for themselves in the security market.

For more information contact Active Track, +27 11 551 1687, [email protected],


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