Security in the commercial sector

February 2011 News

Terry Van Zyl, ADT group technical manager, answers our questions.

Terry van Zyl
Terry van Zyl

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: How extensive is CCTV use in commercial settings? How useful is it?

Terry Van Zyl: CCTV is not only one of the best burglar deterrents, but it is also great for early warning and gathering of evidence to apprehend criminals.

Traditionally, CCTV was largely an option only for businesses and other non-domestic buildings due to its high price tag. However, these days the processing and transfer of video has become quick and inexpensive. Inexpensive technologies now allow for retailers, small business owners and homeowners to seriously consider CCTV which up until a few years ago was largely unaffordable.

Historically CCTV has been a reactive tool. It was used to assess what had happened and how to stop it happening again. CCTV is fast becoming a far more pro-active tool, not only from a security point of view, but to track trends, monitoring employees and see if strategies/marketing exercises are really working.

It needs to be stressed that CCTV is just one aspect of the holistic security solution.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Are companies making full use of the capabilities of IP-based surveillance technologies? Is analogue going to make a comeback?

Terry Van Zyl: No, IP-based systems are not in widespread use as yet, but are definitely growing in popularity. IP-based systems are still not matching the analogue systems in price but are fast becoming the technology of choice for larger sites. This is because these systems offer higher quality images, better remote control options and improved economies-of-scale for larger installations.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: How much can technology contribute to the overall security of commercial facilities, office parks, buildings, multi-national corporations etc.

Terry Van Zyl: It is a world-wide trend to use more technology instead of the traditional human observation and presence on site. With improved bandwidth available, off-site monitoring is fast becoming the new way of securing and controlling the risks on a site.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What advances in perimeter security are useful to commercial properties?

Terry Van Zyl: The latest developments in detection technology include long-range infrared cameras with automatic human movement recognition, even in total darkness, dense fog, etc. Advanced underground cables can identify human movement over kilometres and linked with long-range CCTV cameras can provide guards on site and a remote control room with enough image material and information to trigger the correct action on site.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: And what about remote monitoring? Are businesses opting for remote monitoring solutions to supplement their technology and guards?

Terry Van Zyl: One of the main advantages of remote monitoring is the absence of staff on site. This removes the chances of criminals threatening or bribing security staff to gain access to the premises. The remote site actions are triggered by detectors and cameras which provide information for the dispatched armed response teams. The teams then know what to expect and how to act when arriving at the site.

Transmitting good quality CCTV images to remote monitoring sites involves a huge amount of data and therefore large bandwidth. Because broadband data lines were extremely expensive in South Africa until recently, the take-up of remote monitoring has been very slow and limited to a few larger companies. The situation is changing fast with data prices dropping and bandwidth increasing. More service providers are entering the market with lower cost options, making remote monitoring a good option to consider moving forward. This is a trend seen elsewhere in the world and is the fastest growing technology in the security sector world-wide.

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