Physical security in South Africa is not a luxury, but a necessity. However, it is expensive. LAURENCE SMITH believes the best answer for most security companies is to rely more on technology, as among other things, it allows them to use their labour force more effectively.
In South Africa security has become a necessity and is no longer a luxury. While an indispensable commodity, the security industry is still subject to the same challenges that every other industry is facing: growing economic pressures, rising costs, increased crime levels and shrinking margins. In the face of these challenges, the biggest difficulty of managing a massive workforce that is tasked with providing protection for people, assets, homes and offices is the complexity that comes with it. As if these factors aren’t challenging enough, the issue of price cutting between security firms has created an industry that is difficult to sustain on price alone. Security companies must look for ways to do more with less. Technology is the key that will let security companies move beyond survival mode and allow them to thrive, while improving guarding services, cutting costs, improving efficiencies and boosting profitability.
Technology is the answer
The biggest challenge most security companies are grappling with is the question of how to effectively manage their labour force, which largely makes up the guarding element of their service. How can security companies manage these people better, more efficiently and cut costs while still using the same labour force? It’s important to bear in mind that we don’t want to reduce the labour force, just improve on its efficiency. By improving on workforce efficiency, security companies can take on more sites with fewer staff ‘manning’ these sites; with technology, efficiency is increased.
Technology is able to assist staff to work far more efficiently and importantly, effectively. Guarding is manpower-intensive and if guards are not adequately protected or executing their duties in an efficient and effective manner, this can prove to be a huge headache and a potential danger to clients. To make security guards more efficient, it’s worthwhile considering wearable technology, like tactical CCTV jackets. These jackets, which can be worn over the bulletproof vest, provides control rooms with low bitrate live video streaming and GPS information, so that control room operator has access to live footage as it happens. This enables the operator to dispatch back up when it’s needed. Such a wearable CCTV jacket also serves to ensure that ensures guards carry out their duties according to set procedures or policies with the ability to monitor their performance from a central station.
See more, do more with technology
It is also worthwhile upgrading technology used for CCTV surveillance purposes. Remote CCTV can stream footage at ultra-low bandwidth capabilities whilst military-grade thermal cameras can detect people and movement at any time of day or night, with or without light in almost any kind of weather condition. In addition the use of Ultra High Definition (UHD or 4K) cameras deliver detailed images for enhanced viewing and detail. By increasing the functionality and power of these CCTV solutions, security companies can see more and thus take more action and further reduce crime.
Making surveillance even more efficient is the critical video analytics component. It is now possible to use a computer or analytics engine to do a lot of the work that a human would have had to do in the past – monitoring live feeds from CCTV cameras just became a whole lot more efficient with the addition of an analytics engine, which provides real-time incident alerts and fewer false alarms. Video analytics also simplify control room processes, ensuring personnel can quickly identify potential threats and incidents and execute on these, without delay.
Video analytics enables what is essentially “blank screen monitoring”, in that the system will give notifications of risks according to specific rules set up, and guards are not required to constantly have their eyes on the camera feeds. We’ve all read the statistic that reveals that, within 20 minutes of watching a bank of video screens, a guard is likely to miss 80% of what is happening. Video analytics allows the operator to minimise the labour that goes into 24/7 surveillance, because through the use of sophisticated algorithms and pixel-by-pixel analysis, video analytics can pick up on the smallest of details. Video analytics removes the scope for human error and drastically improves monitoring efficiency.
By automating many of the functions previously performed by humans, technology makes the guarding element of security far more reliable. The right combination of modern UHD cameras and video analytics software in the CCTV setup, as well as the addition of wearable CCTV cameras can enable tech-savvy security companies to provide their service at a lower cost, and at a higher efficiency level.
- Laurence Smith, Executive at Graphic Image Technologies