What are some of the most prevalent security threats small businesses undergo within the areas that you operate in?
Social economic conditions are the greatest contributor to security threats at the present moment. Majority of the areas we operate in is lower income areas with high unemployment rates. These are the areas that we have identified that most incidents occur. The majority of the incidents we experience are the petty theft of nonferrous metals like copper and aluminium that is easy to sell and make some decent money for little time spent committing the crime. However, the cost of the repairs of the damage to property is very high to the client. Copper and aluminium is expensive to buy and labour cost have also gone up due to the rise of operating costs of small businesses that do the repair work.
Petty thefts have also been on the increase in these poverty stricken areas and it is mostly food items and clothing that is stolen. This is a clear indicator that people are struggling. In some instances, even employed people are caught stealing food and clothing. Some of the suspects that we have interviewed stated that they simply cannot afford to buy everything they need to provide for their families.
How can SMMEs mitigate against the above-mentioned security threats?
The most effective solution is to keep valuable infrastructure out of site of have eyes on your vulnerable infrastructure. Traditionally having guards placed in these areas that are perceived as higher risk is the go to method. This works but it is definitely not the most effective solution and the cost of additional guards or manpower is very costly. Video surveillance is one of the most effective solutions out there and the cost compared to traditional guarding could be up to 60% cheaper. It is a far more reliable and cost effective solution in comparison to guarding. One of the key advantages to the client that also gives them peace of mind is that they have access to view the CCTV intelligent security systems installed at their premises from anywhere in the world where they have access to the internet. Having a layered approach to safeguarding property is the best as there is no 100% full proof system available. Every system has some short falls and we at Mezuzah cater specially to combat these short falls. The 1st layer could be something as simple as electric fence around the perimeter as the 1st layer, this serves as the first deterrent to any would be suspects. 2nd layer could be a CCTV system in conjunction with A.I to reduce the false alarms caused by traditional motion sensing camera systems. The 3rd layer could be an intelligent alarm system specially laid out for the property or high risk area you are planning to protect. This is just a basic example of what a layered approach could look like
Smart or intelligent technology systems are also not at this time going to eliminate the need of a physical guarding presence on all sites. Some sites like shopping centres still need physical security when there is a lot of human traffic during the day. Guarding can definitely be complimented by CCTV and A.I systems as both have short falls especially in busy high human traffic areas.
Guards or a live CCTV monitoring operator is at this stage still the best way to seek out shoplifters.
Are you seeing an uptake or trend upwards regarding video-based security surveillance compared to physical guarding services?
We at Mezuzah have seen a substantial growth in the offsite monitoring and smart/intelligent security systems uptake from our clients. We have also grown in this space with new clients and we are receiving many enquiries about intelligent security systems and solutions. Requests for guarding have declined drastically especially since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. The hard lock down and loss of income have forced clients to investigate alternative security options as guarding is becoming more and more expensive.
Not only is the monthly running and operating costs of offsite monitoring and intelligent security solutions much cheaper than traditional guarding it is in most cases far more effective.
Do you think the industry is heading in the direction of remote video surveillance in the long-term or that there will always be a mix of on-premises guards and remote security surveillance in future?
The industry is definitely moving in the direction of remote video surveillance and intelligent security solutions. However, even though we are seeing the technology space grow at a record pace I do not think we are that close yet. Somewhere in the future we will possibly get there but not anytime soon and there are 3 reasons I say so.
- The A.I available at this stage does not meet the requirements yet but is being developed daily to one day meet all the requirements that we expect from a physical guard in shopping centres, banks, hospitals and the hospitality industry etc.
- Newly released technology could be costly when 1st released and if it is not affordable to the consumer they will simply stay with the traditional ways of securing life and property.
- Educating the general public on tech is not always easy. It is really difficult for people to trust that tech can be safe and protect them. The perception of security and safety is in most cases an obstacle that is difficult to overcome as the general public are not always aware of the capabilities of smart or intelligent security solutions or the short falls of traditional guards.