Advancements in camera technologies, internet connectivity, and new security solutions being offered by service providers are enabling South African companies to vastly improve their CCTV and monitoring capabilities, and, in many cases, reduce costs.

Local companies looking to upgrade their legacy systems now have a cost-effective option: “Instead of going the full IP route, they can keep the analogue cabling, but switch from their existing cameras to HD Analog ones,” says Niven Perumal, National Sales Manager, Outsourced Technologies, at Vox.

“Businesses must embrace this progress; as new technologies become mainstream, legacy equipment will become expensive, and harder to replace.”

Smarter cameras

Modern cameras with built-in intelligence features open up new forms of identity authentication such as facial recognition, instead of using codes or access cards, while increased low-light sensitivity & auto-tracking capabilities enables accurate monitoring in any conditions.

“You no longer need people staring at screens for hours, waiting for something to happen,” says Perumal. Unlike traditional ‘dumb cameras’, these cameras can have exceptions programmed, and are able to immediately alert users to suspicious activity. “While these technologies have been around for the past year or so, the cameras are getting smarter.”

IoT: cloud services and remote monitoring

Improvements in broadband connectivity – both wired and wireless – mean that cloud storage becomes a viable option as video footage can be recorded in real-time. Footage can be stored for longer than the typical 30 days since cloud storage has become more affordable, and companies can easily and quickly search their online archive.

Most notably, there is no longer critical equipment on site, with the exception of the cameras themselves. “This gives you additional security, with no possibility of intruders breaking into your control room and vandalising CCTV equipment, or stealing hard drives, leaving you unable to determine what happened,” says Perumal.

A growth area is remote monitoring, where third-party service providers monitor feeds from an off-site control centre. If an alarm is triggered, security or police are alerted, and can even be given access to the property remotely. Comprehensive incident reports are provided so companies can monitor the effectiveness of their security service providers.

In a retail environment, smart surveillance can cut down on theft or fraud through remotely monitored cameras at point-of-sale devices, ensuring that all items are paid for. In the event of suspicious behaviour, control room operators alert the relevant manager.

“With the advent of high-speed connectivity, and the Internet of Things, we are able to run all these services off-site,” says Perumal. “Instead of having people looking over dozens of screens, we are using intelligence to identify suspicious activity. This significantly reduces the risk of collusion by security personnel in criminal activity.”

The eye in the sky

Another huge area of development is drones, which are not only used in the security sector, but also for agriculture, conservation, and disaster management, as well as for providing postal or delivery services in some countries.

Users are able to geo-fence their property, and the drone can be programmed to respond to security alarms by flying to the problem area, identifying potential threats from a height advantage, and providing video coverage that can even be viewed on a mobile device.

Perumal gives the example of the mining industry, where instead laying kilometres of cabling to support cameras, and having many guards, a single drone can accomplish the job. “A drone is capable of surveilling a larger area, and is far quicker than humans. In addition, if there is a security situation, there are no people in harm’s way.”

He expects that once there is more legal clarity around the flying of drones locally, it’s only a matter of time before the South African market – commercial, industrial and even residential – adopts this technology in the future.