SECURITY FOR THE RETAIL SECTOR

21 March 2008

The answer to business crime is a holistic security solution

Retail organisations today are finding the business environment becoming ever more pressurised, in terms of achieving the edge over their opposition in respect of price competitiveness and customer retention, and on top of this, there is a further cause for concern – namely crime.

There are a number of hot topics on the retail security agenda, especially when one considers the pervasive crime rates in South Africa – this means that issues such as shopping mall armed robberies, burglaries, physical attacks on retail employees or incidences of verbal abuse, fraud and shoplifting should all be high on a retail manager's agenda, according to Jack Edery, CEO of Elvey Security Technologies (Elvey).

“The retail sector is, by its nature, a very interactive industry that has to deal with large volumes of people every single day, and regardless of whether your retail interests are to be found in shopping malls, retail shops, convenience stores or warehouses, security will always be a vital part of the business,” he says.

“However, while there are many areas of risk with regards to security, there are also capable solutions available to overcome the most common threats that plague the sector.”

Intruder detection

A major problem in many organisations is theft, which is often carried out after the criminals have tampered with the intruder detection equipment. However, to overcome this one should look for solutions that offer microwave combination detection, which is highly effective as this creates an integrated detection area.

According to Rudi Kuhn, Elvey’s Bloemfontein sales manager, microwave combination detection is designed to create a highly accurate and reliable detection pattern that maintains its sensitivity through the entire detection area, even in high temperature or low contrast environments.

“In order to prevent errors and false alarms, one should look for a product that offers an anti-crosstalk system, which prevents other microwaves in the area from creating interference patterns.”

“The solution should also have a noise reduction circuit to reduce interference from outside noise, including electromagnetic interference and noise from fluorescent lights,” says Kuhn.

“An offering with the above qualities is ideal when used in combination with a detector that can provide Multi Anti-Masking Technology; this means that any criminal that tries and disables the detector in any way, will still be caught, as the device easily detects such attempts.”

Telephone alarm reporting

The recent Eskom-inspired power outages and regular problems associated with unreliable traditional telephone lines could easily lead to companies finding their security compromised.

However, according to Wayne Houseman, Elvey’s Gauteng area manager, unlike a traditional telephone line, GPRS-based communicators uses cellular automatic back-up in case of a telephone line or power failure.

“a communicator like this can be used as a backup to a traditional PSTN phone line, or as a primary alarm communicator when no PSTN line is available, as it uses the GPRS data channel of the GSM network to ensure low-cost, high-speed and reliable alarm communications,” he says.

“Another low-cost alternative to traditional phone line alarm communication is to find a communicator that works within the existing Intranet (LAN/WAN) of businesses to communicate alarm signals efficiently and economically to the IP monitoring software. This allows businesses to control their alarms systems remotely while ensuring that delivery of the alarm signal is always timely and accurate.”

Video verification


While alarm systems are all well and good, many times when one is triggered, it turns out to be a false alarm; this can have a negative monetary impact on the business.

To prevent such false alarms, video monitoring is a most effective technology, as it provides an answer to the verification problem that is cost effective, instantaneous and easy to implement.

“A system that can be integrated with most alarm panels on the premises and allows multiple video streams from the premises to be presented to ensure that the visual information received can be verified and prioritised is therefore vital,” says Elvey’s new business development manager Michael Brett.

“For example, there are affordable yet powerful solutions that send through video before, during, and after the alarm triggers, helping to apprehend criminals, save lives and reduce false alarms.”

Brett says that what is desirable about such a solution is that the possibilities go beyond pure video alarm verification, since the system can also be used for remote business management, as it provides video e-mail of any significant event.

Access control systems

While access control has been a feature of business security for some time, the more traditional, card-based access control solutions can easily be manipulated or impacted through issues such as lost cards or ‘phantom-punch’ timekeeping.

According to Mark Kidd-Anderson, Elvey’s Cape Town sales manager access control systems can be strengthened through the addition of biometric identification devices in high security areas.

“For example, a biometric unit uses the employee’s fingerprint for access control and timekeeping, replacing the card system. Having your employees fingerprint in the system prevents unauthorised entries and allows management to monitor the ‘real’ time an employee arrives or leaves,” he says.

“Multiple fingerprints per employee can be stored by the device, so that in the event of an injury to a finger, the employee can still gain access, and each device can store both a large number of fingerprint templates and transactions, so it is ideal for the midsize business market.”

Physical security

Wynand Beneke’, Elvey’s guarding solution specialist, believes that while guards are one of the most visible security protection measures that one can use, human error is something that can always occur.

“It is for this reason that I suggest to clients that they consider a real-time guard monitoring system that helps to enhance the capabilities of patrol guards.”

“Ideally, one wants a patrol system that combines three critical aspects into one device – namely, enabling full monitoring of mobile worker time and attendance, providing panic button functionality that allows immediate communication with a control room in the case of an emergency. There should also be a radio option that allows for two-way voice communication between the guard and the control room at all times.”

A system like this is designed to give an account of the guards’ whereabouts and whether they have completed the designated patrol route while also ensuring their safety and security, thanks to the GMS/GPRS cellular network connection to the control room.

“With a solution of this nature comprehensively implemented, one has full control over both the guards and one’s property,” concludes Beneke’.

Elvey Marketing