Rapid communication - key to proactive security

February 2004 IT infrastructure

Security is one of the fastest growing industries in South Africa and has become highly sophisticated to tackle the increase in organised crime. As more companies vie for a share of the lucrative residential and personal security markets, competition is increasing, making it important for security companies to differentiate themselves in their drive to provide efficient, reliable protection services.

Community and VIP protection company Special Armed Services (SAS) aims to provide proactive security to prevent crimes before they occur. In order to achieve this, the company has to ensure its vehicles and guards are on constant patrol and that there is ongoing surveillance of the protected area or person. It relies heavily on two-way radio communication to achieve this.

"Without the instant, group communication that two-way radio provides, we cannot keep track of our guards and vehicles or call for back-up in an emergency," says Riaan Winkler, area director at SAS.

"Many armed response companies have vehicles parked in their patrol areas, with a radio fitted in the vehicle. This is not conducive to proactive security and it creates a problem when the security guard leaves the vehicle, as he loses contact with the control room and cannot alert them if a problem arises. Our staff are highly trained professionals and we ensure that they are kitted out with the correct equipment to perform their duties."

Suited for professionals

SAS has standardised on Motorola two-way radios due to their quality, reliability, durability and ergonomic design. We evaluated several suppliers and have chosen Motorola GM340 mobile radios as base stations at fixed sites such as guard huts or booms and P040 portable radios for our Special Forces unit and foot patrollers.

"The GM340 radio has been designed with a range of features to suit professionals in particular work environments," says Len Bohnen, owner of authorised Motorola dealer Radio-Pro & Industrial. "For example, the emergency signalling feature allows the user to send a pre-recorded help signal to a defined person or group of people and the lone worker feature prompts the user to respond to a signal at regular intervals. If the user fails to respond to the signal, the radio enters emergency mode to alert the control room. The radio is also data capable and has a talk-around feature that allows users who are beyond the range of a repeater, but within sight of each other, to communicate one-to-one."

"The P040 radio is lightweight, sits comfortably in the hand and can withstand rough usage. It has 16 channels, allowing us to add more channels as required and the coding capability that is a standard feature of the radio allows us to split one channel into five channels, providing secure one-to-one communication. The battery life is sufficient for a 12-hour shift and we use a Motorola Mag One headset with external microphone for hands-free operation, which is critical in our line of work. It is also robust and comfortable enough for long-term wear," adds Winkler.

In response to the increased threat of global terrorism, SAS recently launched a 'Special Unit'. The team is equipped with advanced technical skills that include abseiling, high-speed driving and advanced medical care, to address the growing need for the protection of high-profile executives and tour groups.

"We also provide back-up and assistance for various state structures, in cases where limited resources are unable to tackle escalating crime alone," explains Mike Francisco, managing director of SAS.

As time is of the essence in emergency situations, SAS has created battle jackets that are equipped with a carry pouch for their two-way radios. The radio sits on the wearer's shoulder blade - within reach, but out of the way. The headset wire wraps neatly under the collar to prevent it from catching on anything and the external microphone with a push-to-talk button sits on the chest for easy communication.

"Whether we are escorting VIP clients or protecting an entire community, we need to be able to move quickly. The modified jackets allow us to carry all our communications and weapons comfortably without hindering movement. They have also reduced kit-up time to 10 seconds, improving response time in an emergency," notes Francisco.

"We get excellent back-up support from Radio-Pro & Industrial so if the radios do need to be repaired or re-programmed, it does not impact on the service we provide."

For more information contact Mike Francisco, Riaan Winkler, SAS, 011 884 6660 or Len Bohnen, Radio-Pro & Industrial, 011 704 2280.

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