03 August 2007
“Private sector firms can, and increasingly do, play a significant role in policing and security provision, whether at local, national, regional or international level.”
That’s according to Marina Caparini, Senior Fellow at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), writing in the organisation’s fourth annual yearbook titled “Private Actors and Security Governance”. In her article “Applying a security governance perspective to the privatization of security”, she notes that profound economic and social changes have resulted in the growing trend to outsource functions formerly considered governmental.
Jack Edery, CEO of leading electronic security equipment suppliers Elvey Security Technologies, concurs, saying that government departments have security challenges that need to be dealt with - and can be effectively done - with the use of innovative products and solutions from the private sector.
Quality security equipment and systems are already playing a critical role in helping deter potential security threats, he says. Apart from the obvious threat of terrorism, government departments need to manage risks such as unauthorized entries, data loss, pilferage, trespassing and sabotage. Over and above these, the personal safety of those working in such environments needs to be factored into the equation, and this is particularly challenging when there is no perimeter to form the first form of defense such as offices in town. The answer, he says, lies in the installation and use of integrated security solutions, whether in offices, military premises, court rooms, utility plants, hospitals, ports and other state-owned enterprises.
4 pillars of security
Francois Smuts, systems sales manager of Elvey Security Technologies, sees the current and future success of government security increasingly dependent on working with solution-focused companies which provide both the requisite level of expertise and top-of-the-range, world-class products. Elvey is typical of this type of preferred partner, he says, since the company is at the cutting edge of integrated fibre optic and broadband solutions. “Government departments, from both a security and a budget perspective, require a four pillared approach to security today. Systems must not only offer closed circuit television and access control capabilities for business management and monitoring but must also be seamlessly integrated with video alarm verification and remote activation capabilities, automatic event or situation analytics as well as cellular communication where necessary, in order to provide a complete and high-level alarm solution.
Today’s most sophisticated systems have biometric interfaces which are integrated into access control systems and have the networkability to make the control and monitoring of premises and access control systems over an intranet, internet or TCP/IP system extremely effective, he adds. “Integrated systems allow for multiple sites to be monitored from one central point, which has huge cost-saving and security benefits.”
His assertion is supported by Erich Glatz, marketing director of GSC Systems, which designs and manufactures access control, time recording and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) identification systems. The best way of dealing with security requirements around admission, personnel, assets and data protection is with intelligent access control systems that can even can lock and unlock doors, and advise of breach attempts, he says on his company website. To this end, these systems are increasingly being integrated with biometrics and identification systems such as swipe cards, keypads or proximity cards and software can be customized to suit individual requirements.
Visual Alarm Verification
Elvey’s visual alarm verification experts Michael Brett and Anthony Klein are witness to the effect of budgetary constraints within the government sector which has seen guard quotas slashed, leaving many facilities under-patrolled and under-protected.
The answer, they say, is to supplement the human element with cost-effective and highly functional integrated systems that include event-based video for multiple applications. With visual alarm verification capabilities, these systems work in conjunction with guards, identifying false alarm incidences and providing open and close alerts. “This technology reduces onsite guard requirements through automatically-scheduled video guard tours that can be viewed by central station operators who can remotely monitor premises as many times as they like and for any reason,” says Brett.
Klein adds: “Another huge step forward is that advanced video picture compression technology delivers high-quality images over telephone lines or cellular services. Pre- and post- alarm video images are received by the central monitoring station dispatchers, who can then verify alarms before notifying the relevant authorities. It is the ideal security solution for effectively solving false dispatch and unverified alarm problems.”
In addition, complete solutions hardware and software allow for high quality video images to be transmitted over standard phone lines at sustained frame rates. Using unique, patented products with compression and streaming algorithm capabilities, high quality and constant video streaming can take place over any network. “No matter what the bandwidth is or how much motion is in the video, the quality of the video never drops as happens in other video streaming algorithms,” says Brett.
Another hi-tech product in Elvey’s stable is a real time processor that processes live video streams from cameras and then performs a major part of the compression algorithm on site, adds Klein. “As a result, small DSPs (digital signal processors) can be used as co-processors, while small RISC (reduced instruction set computer) processors are able to manage communication and system parameters.”
Videofied Private Security
State-of-the-art video technology is already in use by the US Defense Department, says Keith Jentoft, president of RSI Alarm, on his website. His company recently released an award-winning security product known as ‘Videofied’, which essentially comprises military encrypted technology that delivers video with alarm to a central station without any threat to, or loss of, privacy. Since video verified alarms are increasingly treated as warnings of crimes-in-progress, they ensure priority response from the relevant authorities, he notes. This latest technology is now so advanced that it offers such accessories as integrated camera and motion sensors, universal door and window contacts, keypads and key fobs, interior and exterior alarms, strobes, and control panels. Entirely wireless for easy installation and minimal maintenance, it operates off batteries that have four-year life expectancies. Another major advantage for sites with high security requirements is that Videofied can integrate up to 24 cameras in a single system. Further, its use of regular phone lines to transmit data makes Broadband connection unnecessary, and Ethernet and GPRS cellular network communication modules optional. For VIP protection, there is a portable VIP protection version (also wireless) that allows for the securing of hotel rooms, offices, holiday homes, rental cars and even documents while traveling since the system is completely wireless.