Hi-Tech Security Solutions hosted the Residential Estate Security Conference on 20th August 2019 at the Indaba Hotel in Fourways under the banner of 'Integrating Man and Machine for Effective Security'.
The full day event was once again well attended with a full house looking for insights, advice, ideas and strategies concerning the security of the estates they are responsible for. The conference also attracted a number of sponsors from the industry. The sponsors for this conference were:
• IDEMIA (Platinum sponsor).
• Comb Communications (Gold sponsor).
• Dahua Technology (Gold sponsor).
• ELF Electronic Security Solutions (Gold sponsor).
• Suprema (Gold sponsor).
• Bidvest Protea Coin (Silver sponsor).
• Elvey Security Technologies (Silver sponsor).
• Impro (Silver sponsor).
• Nemtek Electric Fencing Products (Silver sponsor), and
• PSIRA – The Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (Silver sponsor).
After a short introduction by the editor of Hi-Tech Security Solutions, the presentations began. The keynote of the day dealt with
the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) and
its applicability in the residential security market.
Should you insource your guards?
By Tony Botes.
Tony Botes addressed the touchy subject of whether estates should outsource their guarding requirements or hire and train their own guards. Both options have their supporters and detractors and the Residential Security Conference saw arguments from the delegates for both sides of the argument. In his presentation, Botes also touched on the regulations around guarding services in South Africa and some of the future changes we will see in this regard.
One of the first, and potentially most important points raised by Botes was that the regulations for guards (Sectoral Determination 6, or SD6) that apply to the private security industry, don’t apply to estates that hire their own guards. These organisations need to follow the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which states that, for example, the hours of work in general will be 45 hours per week, or nine in any day. (Of course, more work can be done, but this would require the overtime rules to come into effect.)
What this means in reality is that, while the security industry has adjusted hours from which it works as per SD6, estates do not have this benefit. Therefore, while a security company can assign three guards to cover one 24x7 shift, an estate would require 3.7 or the 0.7 would be overtime. Additionally, an estate would have to have ‘spare guards’ to cater for sick days, annual leave, family responsibilities etc. When outsourcing your guarding service this becomes someone else’s problem.
Botes also touched on the rules PSIRA is tasked with enforcing, noting the increased action it is taking to address non-compliance in the industry. Delegates could also speak to PSIRA directly as they had a display stand at the conference. The issue of compliance is one that will be more aggressively addressed in future.
In closing, Botes noted that even in a world where technology is taking on much of the security tasks that used to be assigned to guards, the number of registered guards in the country is still growing. And speaking to the people who always want a cheaper deal, he said your security may cost a lot, but you should also calculate the cost of poor security.
Efficiency and lower security costs:
By Kevin Monk.
Kevin Monk, the MD of Stallion Electronic Security followed with an overview of current estate security practices and an insight into how this could improve by embracing the many technology changes and process improvements available to security operations.
The general formula for estate security today is to have 24-hour guards at the entrances along with perimeter patrols. This is supplemented by, for example, biometric access control, electric fencing, offsite monitoring, surveillance cameras and armed response. And this generally works.
However, Monk asked the delegates how effective and efficient these systems are. In our world of instant gratification, people don’t want to wait until the estate security manager has checked the visitor books or scanned hours of video before he/she can answer a question on a security breach, they want answers now.
And on the topic of efficiency, he added that a patrolling security guard is only 8% efficient because of the limited scope he or she has – they can only see what is happening where they are. The right camera solution, on the other hand, is 100% efficient as it provides coverage of everything, including the guards all at once and can be enhanced with intelligent analytics.
The catch is what one does with that camera footage. Storing it on hard drives somewhere in case you need to search for something is not effective or efficient; but allowing your systems to collect intelligence and act on it – such as dispatching a guard to a real perimeter breach instead of an alarm set off by a stray dog – changes both the effectiveness of the installation and the efficiency of your security operation as a whole.
Monk called the integration and collective intelligence gathered from all parts of the security operation – guards, surveillance, electric fences, alarms, access control and so forth – business intelligence (BI). He said this BI is what takes a ‘normal’ ‘security operation that ticks the boxes and transforms it into an effective and efficient operation that delivers real value to the estate. Relating back to Furter’s presentation, he mentioned that this type of efficiency delivers the ability to forecast and provide reports faster and with more accuracy, reduce manpower requirements and improve the decision-making process.
He ended by providing examples using Briefcam video synopsis software and intelligent dashboards to advance the BI capabilities of estates, both in security and normal day-to-day operations.
AI in your pocket:
By Gerhard Furter.
Gerhard Furter from Iris AI engaged the delegates with an interesting presentation highlighting some of the ways AI can be used to improve the security of estates and homes, and can easily be extended to include business or educational estate security.
He started out with an introduction to what AI is, focusing on the four basic abilities of AI:
- Machine learning: AI can learn from its environment, remember what it has learned, and adapt to use it better.
- Deep learning: AI can learn from jumbled, confusing data, make sense of it, and use it.
- Parallelism: AI can pay attention to millions of things happening at the same time, without getting tired, losing concentration, or taking a coffee break.
- Automation: AI can run processes with very little, if any need for human assistance – this includes switching stuff on and off, controlling processes, and even making lightning-fast decisions.
After the introduction, Furter then went on to discuss what all the above means in the real world and how it can be applied in the estate security market. Starting with behaviour, an AI can identify behaviour and learn what is normal, thereby being able to identify strange or different behaviour and raise an alert. It is also very good at identifying patterns, which can be useful in detecting activities happening on your site and determining if it is a ‘normal’ activity or not.
AI can also collect, use and understand data from any connected sensor or device. It can then make decisions to help you manage your environment. This data could be water pressure, leak detection, fluctuations in electricity and even people’s faces. And finally, it can predict events such as crime, or equipment malfunctions etc. by making use of current and historical data, identifying patterns and suggesting upcoming actions or preventative measures. This can span the range of predicting late payers, through to equipment failure and even the next hijacking outside your gate, and everything in between.
Furter ended his presentation with a demonstration based on information his AI system (named Annie), gleaned from letting two 2-megapixel IP cameras run while facing the audience during his talk. The system was able to detect the audience’s emotions, age ranges and even how many people were wearing glasses. The emotion recognition function showed the delegates enjoyed his presentation.
You need a risk assessment:
By Andy Lawler.
Andy Lawler from Sentinel Risk Management was front and centre as he explained to the audience what a real risk assessment is and why these assessments are critical in the drive to have an effective, efficient and optimal security operation on estates.
Lawler started by highlighting some of the problems he has experienced at estates where either corners were cut and glaring weaknesses left in the estate’s security, or where the consultant or integrator has sold the estate far more security than they require. Getting the right solution starts with an assessment, which he called a security Threat, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (TRVA).
To stress the need for an effective TRVA, Lawler briefly looked at some of the official crime statistics in South Africa, and as shocking as those are, he noted that not all crimes are reported. The consensus from seeing those horrific figures is that an effective security solution is not optional in estates, not matter how large or small.
Identifying a threat includes looking external to the estate as well as internally. It also requires some historical information on what crimes have occurred at the estate and in the immediate surroundings. Areas in which risks are often discovered include the perimeter where it’s generally easy to hide poor workmanship or corner cutting, as well as in access and egress processes which often rely on human resources as well as technology – which need to function in tandem to ensure security is maintained.
The installation and maintenance of equipment is also assessed in a TRVA since poor maintenance can hamper security, while poor installation does the same – or can result in the guard unplugging the NVR in order to plug the kettle in. Of critical importance are electrical installations, which can not only impact security, but also pose a threat to lives when live wires are left exposed by poor workmanship.
The pros and cons of consultants:
By Michael Lever.
Having discussed risk assessments, the conference also called upon Michael Lever to address the audience on the topic of hiring consultants and ensuring their security operation is top-notch. Taking the ESRM (Enterprise Security Risk Management) approach, Lever discussed the issues relating to ensuring your security investment is able to deliver as required.
Lever touched on the various points estates need to consider in their security programme, with the assistance of a consultant. These include compliance and standards to which your system must adhere, such as ISO and BSI (British Standards Institute); KPIs (key performance indicators) and metrics defined in advance; platform selection; budget; and integration challenges and how to resolve these. And, of course, the technology you will use.
He then went into detail on the ideal process estates should follow, from planning to integration, also mentioning the ways in which costs can be balanced between operational and capital expenditure.
The softer issues in a security programme are often forgotten until something happens, and Lever discussed some of these to enable estates to be prepared and aware of the issues they might have to deal with that can’t be documented in a security plan. These include the expectations of the board versus the reality technology can deliver, egos and attitudes (and the challenges faced when there are multiple bosses estate security managers and their integrators may have to deal with), and, of course, vendor management.
Finally, Lever also provided the delegates with an insight into what the guard of the future might look like by demonstrating the Roboguard. A small robot that can be fitted with visual and/or thermal cameras and sent to patrol set routes around the estate. With a 12-hour battery life, the robot can cover large areas and make use of intelligent analytics in the control room to spot intruders and raise the alarm. The device can also carry a human if required.
Access with a wave:
By Nicholas Garcia.
Delegates to the conference were able to experience the MorphoWave touchless biometric system when they registered for the event, and IDEMIA’s Nicolas Garcia, director for the biometric terminals business line in the MEA region, was on hand to describe how the
Wave was installed and integrated with other security systems at Midlands Estate.
With around 6 000 residents, the estate decided to move from its previous IDEMIA contact fingerprint readers to the contactless Wave. The MorphoWave reads four fingerprints in 3D when people simply wave their hand over the sensor which captures about 30% more of the person’s fingerprint than touch devices. The Wave turned out to have a 20% higher hit rate, significantly lowering the number of people who could not be registered via biometrics. In addition, because people don’t touch the sensor there is less of a hygiene worry as well.
Hi-Tech Security Solutions will cover the Midlands case study in the Access & Identity Management Handbook 2020.
Future-proof your security investment:
By Costa Diavastos.
Costa Diavastos, CEO of Bidvest Protea Coin was up next with a presentation highlighting how estates can future proof their investments in security. As many estates have discovered, installing the best security solution is no easy task, nor is it easy on the budget.
A serious problem occurs after three or five years when the estate wants to upgrade to the latest technology or when it wants to integrate new equipment into its security infrastructure. If the wrong decision was made, older systems won’t be able to integrate with newer, or the brand chosen does not allow you to use equipment from other vendors. Resolving this can lead to significant expenses. In addition to this, if not properly budgeted for, the maintenance and repair bill for the lifespan of the installation can also put a dent in the estate’s finances.
Diavastos suggested a different approach in which estates adopt a different cost of ownership (COO) model that sees them able to keep their systems running optimally throughout the contract period at a set cost per month. This rental or lease model includes installation, maintenance and support, insurance, warranties and so forth, and at the end of the contract the estate could own the equipment or initiate a new contract in which the latest technology is installed, again at a monthly cost with no large capital outlay. The contract can also include a manned guarding component as part of the set budget.
Make the most of your network:
By Rudi Potgieter.
In any security system, communication is a critical factor, be it voice communications between personnel or to a response control room, or between the technical systems themselves. And in today’s connected world, the ability to send and receive communications is a given, especially in a smart home/smart estate environment.
For estates, installing a fibre backbone is nothing new, but Rudi Potgieter, senior product manager from Vox informed the conference that their backbone network can be used for so much more to enhance safer and smarter living in estates. In fact, when choosing the correct products and services, estates can even use their network to make a profit rather than seeing it only as a necessary expense.
And with the many products designed for the IoT (Internet of Things), the same network an estate used to monitor its surveillance cameras, access control and visitor management, can also be used to accurately monitor energy and water consumption, manage the facilities without (or with less) human intervention, tailor advertising to people in the club house, manage parking and even charge for parking for events (if required). And the list of possibilities goes on.
The key is firstly to have a solid backbone and then choose service providers that can add value to the network, such as free voice communications within the estate and the functions mentioned above.
Of course, the security of your network is also crucial to whatever you do with it and Potgieter also touched on the subject of cybersecurity. The issues he advised estates to take special notice of in securing their networks include making sure all software patches are installed timeously, whether these are operating system patches or even firmware upgrades for equipment like security cameras or access control devices.
Moreover, estates need to ensure their storage systems are secured, whether onsite or in the cloud, as well as take precautions to ensure employees and contractors don’t open the door to cyber criminals when they connect their personal smartphones and other devices to the estate’s infrastructure.
The ups and downs of drones:
By Bertus van Zyl.
Hollywood movies provide some exciting ideas of what drones can be used for and just how versatile they are. Unfortunately, real life and reliable technology gets in the way when someone wants to use drones for security in South Africa.
Bertus van Zyl, MD of Drone Guards provided a reality check to the delegates, covering the legal requirements for using drones in South Africa as well as some options that estates can select from if they want to have drones patrolling their perimeters, for example.
Van Zyl first went over the strict laws governing commercial drone usage in South Africa. This includes, but is not limited to:
• The company must be licensed by the South African Civil Aviation Authority,
• Aerial drones must be manned at all times (with a 2-person crew),
• You need a remote pilot licence (RPL) in order to fly a drone,
• Permission must be obtained for flights over public roads and flights in controlled air pace. In addition you may require the landowner’s permission, and safety and emergency response procedures must be in place, and
• The company must be insured for third-party liability.
In the estate environment, drones can have a significant impact on security operations, from being an ‘eye in the sky’ that can get to alarm locations quickly and at a height where criminals can’t hide behind walls. If the drone flies at 30 km/h, it will move faster than a person, capturing video evidence as it happens at any time of day (if it carries a thermal camera). Drones are proving to be a good deterrent because of the above.
The catch is the cost of a professional drone service. Drone Guards has developed a ‘Neighbour Model’ that allows estates to collaborate with their surrounding estates in the use of a drone, which reduces the cost significantly by flying ‘shifts’ over multiple estates.
Van Zyl also noted that drones are not a replacement for estates’ current security operations, but that they work in collaboration with service providers to enhance the security of estates.
Staff selection challenges:
By Dr Craig Donald.
Dr Craig Donald, director of Leaderware took the conference in another direction, speaking on the issues to consider when choosing and training staff for control room operations. We know that taking a guard off the beat and putting him/her in a control room is a bad idea, but who should be operating your control room systems? After all, if you spend a fortune on a control room you certainly want it to deliver results and technology is not able to handle the security of an estate without human resources in the control room and on the ground.
There are many characteristics and skills a control room operator requires, some of these mentioned by Donald include observation skills, a good memory, people skills, report writing and more. The person’s profile should include descriptors such as being calm under pressure, being conscientious, analytical, self-sufficient and so on. These characteristics and skills should then be enhanced by training targeted at the job in question.
It is also important to take the time and effort to check the background of potential hires, checking for a criminal record as well as their credit record. The individuals should also have had exposure to computers and be comfortable using them – again, the specifics of your applications can be taught but it doesn’t help if they have no idea what a mouse is.
When it comes to operators, visual analysis skills are critical. Donald highlighted this and showed that, even though the common belief is that after 40 minutes operators are screen blind (some say it can be as little as 20 minutes), studies have proven that skilled operators can focus for longer periods and specialists will actually improve their performance as time goes by. Of course that doesn’t mean they should be in front of a screen for eight or more hours without a break.
When it comes to recognising faces, Donald then introduced the conference delegates to the idea of Super Recognisers, the focus of the keynote at iLegal 2019. Started in the UK, super recognisers are among the 1% of the population that have an amazing ability to recognise faces that surpasses automated facial recognition systems. These individuals will recall up to 95% of the faces they have seen in any situation, as opposed to the 20% the average person recalls. They have been extensively used in the UK with remarkable success, achieving an 82% conviction rate over a 2-year period.
Donald ended his presentation by looking at how operators can enhance their natural abilities through training in areas such as body language and conflict resolution and many more.
Sponsors take centre stage
After the lunch break, a number of sponsors were up on stage to talk about how their solutions are geared towards the residential estate market.
IDEMIA: Platinum sponsor IDEMIA spoke about its MorphoWave technology and how this touchless fingerprint biometric reader makes access and authentication simpler and faster, while also being able to read more fingerprints than traditional touch devices. The Wave scans four fingerprints as the user ‘waves’ their hand over the sensor, capturing 3D detail in high resolution. Delegates were able to view and test the MorphoWave at the entrance to the conference.
ELF Electronic Security Solutions: Known for its rental or lease model for securing estates, complete with insurance for the kit, Elf’s Chris Lovemore spoke on new developments at the company and how Elf has expanded to include a broad range of security equipment in its model. What’s more, by constantly monitoring its installed equipment, Elf is able to detect as soon as something goes wrong and exactly where the problem is and fix or replace it, sometimes even before the estate realises something isn’t working.
Suprema: Walter Rautenbach from Suprema was on hand to discuss the options Suprema has for access control and visitor management in estates. He mentioned a range of biometric products that can also include card and PIN access as well as fingerprint or facial biometrics, as well as the company’s new visitor management solution. Rautenbach also stressed the importance of having a reliable integration partner that can ensure that estates’ security and operational equipment is properly and securely integrated for seamless operations.
Comb Communications: Graham Wild represented Comb on the panel and gave the audience an overview of how Comb has developed products for the residential market over the years. He noted that while the company started with a focus on small to mid-sized estates, it has expanded its product line to include larger lifestyle estates as well. A key feature of Comb was and is innovation. Wild says its continual innovation ensures Comb takes advantage of the latest technological advances to provide better products and services to the estate market.
Dahua Technology: While many people identify Dahua as a video surveillance company, the company’s Marius Du Preez was on the panel to explain how the company has a range of products, including video and other technologies to cater for estate security. Dahua brings artificial intelligence into its products to enhance perimeter security and reduce false alarms, and offers access control solutions to streamline and secure estate gates. The company also has a product range that can be used in constructing control rooms, from video walls to storage servers.
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