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How to create an unbeatable* security system

It’s a bold claim to make, that a security system can be unbeatable. While it may be technically possible to create an impenetrable fort-Knox-esque castle surrounded by moats and guard dogs (see every history book written), this isn’t what we mean by an unbeatable system. Using this castle visual metaphorically is more useful in this scenario, and therefore the idea of surrounding yourself with three security ‘rings’ will make up the structure of an ‘unbeatable’ system. This article is aimed at unpacking what it means to live in such a way that security isn’t a daily concern, highlighting necessary but superficially ‘utopian’ sounding goals, while hopefully giving the reader practical tips they can implement to make their personal security system as good as possible (within a reasonable budget).

The first ring: The self.

The first ring in our metaphorical castle, the inner-most ring, is the self/family. Security is a frame of mind, and should therefore not be thought of as starting and ending at your front door. Here are a few things to consider for your personal/family security, whether at home or in public.

· Communication is key:

Make sure that you have a charged cell-phone, with data, readily available. Communication between yourself and your family, your staff, the police, emergency services, or even your neighbours, is absolutely critical. Make sure your family knows explicitly what to do, where to go, and how to act in an emergency. Ensure that your security provider has accurate and up to date contact details. A good thing to think about is keeping all vital numbers in a tab called I.C.E (In Case of Emergency) in your contact list. Additionally, it is useful to keep a business card size list of emergency numbers physically written down in your wallet(s); you never know when your phone may die.

· Don’t prep for the worst case, prep for the likely case:

Personal preparedness doesn’t need to go ‘full doomsday prepper’, but keeping an every day carry with some things that you find personally useful is always a good idea. If you do end up in an unfortunate position where your possessions may be robbed, it is a good idea to have a small amount of spare money (ideally at least R100, but not enough to draw attention), for the purpose of ensuring transport home or a meal/water if necessary. Other things like having spare medication (allergy meds, headache tablets and the like) are the most likely to be needed, so start with these first. There are lists of EDC (everyday carry) examples that people find useful online. It may sound old-school, but keep a city map in your car.

· If you aren’t comfortable with personal protection devices or firearms, try something a little more chill(i):

Firearms is a heavily contested subject. This article is choosing to avoid this topic. Many people are not comfortable, or willing and able to use firearms responsibly, therefore we suggest the non-violent approach. Physical violence (especially gender-based violence) is a real threat in South Africa. It is always a good idea to invest in a small tin of pepper-spray to keep on your car keys, or a decent walking stick to take on hikes or walks in nature. This is useful to keep people as well as wild animals at bay, and allow you to get away more easily. Don’t be a hero, avoid a security issue wherever possible.

The second ring: The house/physical property infrastructure.

This ring encapsulates what most people think of when they want to boost their security. We specialise in off-site monitoring, video analytics and incorporating A.I security systems, but we are equally experienced in operations, intelligence, and security consultancy. We will talk about a few general tips, and a few you may not have thought of.

· Figure out your weak points.

Every property has weak security points, be it adjacent public walkways/greenbelts, busy areas such as entrance points or front gates, poor lighting in the area, or walls that are easily scalable. Figure out your weak points, and then start with strengthening those first. Entrance areas or areas with ‘moving parts’ are a primary example of an area to improve upon; if your front gate motor breaks, or is tampered with, 100ft walls won’t keep people out. We have specially designed systems that use LPR (licence plate recognition), A.I, and other biometric or technological tools to specifically monitor your front gates and the like.

· Walls, walls, walls?

Of course, walls are the easiest way to keep people out, but as many people discover, walls don’t always keep people out. Re-thinking your ideas of physical barriers may hold true to upgrade your physical defences. Electric fencing can be overcome by insulating or well-timed jumps, as we have seen before. Loadshedding is another concern with this type of protection. Physical deterrents such as ‘eina ivy’, spikes, or similar can work in conjunction to other deterrents such as electric fencing. Incorporating natural elements such as creating thick hedges, ideally of a spiked variety, can also improve your security over time.

· You can’t cut through a virtual fence.

Fences and walls are one step, but can often be circumvented with a bit of planning and ingenuity. Time is one of the best assets one can possess when it comes to security. Early detection, using technology such as Thermal monitoring at night, and A.I powered video analytics to create ‘virtual boundaries’, can push the idea of a fence beyond its physical boundaries. Virtual boundaries can create a “fence before your fence”, allowing our operators to assess situations well in advance. Another benefit is that trespassers can’t see a virtual boundary, or cut a virtual boundary. Think of a trip-wire in a spy/Indiana Jones movie, but in reality.

· High tech doesn’t always mean high cost.

This takes us to the next point, Upgrading your existing security system doesn’t have to break the bank. We tailor our security systems to match your budget and needs, and we have an extensive knowledge-base of multiple security hardware and software solutions to fit you! Our independence also means that we don’t have vested interests in any particular piece of technology, and while we will be able to advise accordingly to tried and tested technology that we utilise, we have several ‘bridging technologies’ that can seamlessly (and affordably) integrate multiple forms of security technology.

· Maintenance!!!!!

With every form of technology, there are downsides, which can luckily be mitigated through a bit of maintenance. Cameras get dirty, fuses burn through (thanks load-shedding), and plants grow in the way of technology. We suggest doing a camera check every 3-6 months, and a full system maintenance check every year. Think of it as spring cleaning. Set a reminder in your phone for every 6 months at least. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

(While you’re at it, set a reminder of your anniversary… this is a safety and security article after all).

The third ring: The community/country.

Most people stop at the second ring. They think of their security, their family, their assets. This mindset is what stops people from achieving a truly ‘unbeatable’ security system.

· Love thy neighbour(‘s security system):

Your neighbour’s security system can be your greatest ally, or a huge potential threat. We have seen on countless occasions intruders gaining access to clients’ properties via their relatively under-protected neighbours. What we aren’t saying is to harass your neighbours until they fix their security, this will get you nowhere. What we are saying is that by combining forces with your neighbourhood as a whole, you can invest in technology to overcome shortfalls. You don’t know your neighbour’s financial situation. They might not be able to pay for individual security systems, but may be able to contribute towards community monitoring solutions, and neighbourhood watches.

· Realise the context of security in South Africa:

The problem of security in South Africa has many facets, many causes, and many solutions. The situation we face ourselves with has been a result of years of systemic oppression. We are not an inherently free country just because we have elections every four years. We need to collectively realise that these challenges are long-term, so our solutions will need to be long-term focussed.

· To keep yourself safe, build a wall. To keep your family safe, build a bridge.

Inequality is the root of crime. If people have an income, they are less likely to look for opportunistic means of providing for their families. If your community is wealthy and your neighbouring community is in poverty, chances are you will have security threats. Once your personal situation is safe and secure, it is your duty to extend your kindness beyond your immediate community. We don’t mean forcing your ideas of safety onto other people, but rather by investing (time or money) in local businesses, school systems, or ground-level community groups. By addressing primary human needs, such as food, safety, shelter, and education, opportunistic crime won’t be necessary. The crime situation in 20 years’ time will be determined by what people choose to do today.

Concluding remarks:

We want to conclude that there is no perfect security system. A rigid system with no movement will lead to cracks over time. Security is a mindset, and advanced technology can undoubtedly keep your family and assets safe, but compassion and thinking beyond your high walls and electric fences is the only way that security will become ‘unbeatable’. Because if your neighbours are your allies, there won’t be people trying to ‘beat’ your system. We aim to provide early detection systems, and ways of mitigating incidents, de-escalating situations, and using technology and intellect to combat opportunistic crime. We don’t aim to fight crime; we aim to prevent it.

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