Can a security camera replace a security guard?

Emre ERDAL - CTO

The security market for guarding services in the world has been really tough and has faced many challenges for the last 10 years. The global economic crisis has put pressure on the quality and cost for both sides; service takers and service providers. During difficult times like these, security service is usually the first victim of budget-cutting operations of top management. It is a cost center. Not only is the guard expensive especially in well-developed countries where wages are relatively high, but also security operations are considered to be a money absorbing service where immediate return on investment is not visible unless there is a security related issue.

 But things are changing now. Top managers are beginning to realize that in a safer and more secure environment, their employees are happier, more concentrated and productive. This has a very significant positive effect on the efficiency of their core business. Besides, no company would like to stop its operations because of a security matter. Business continuity is one of the most crucial concerns of companies, taking into consideration that they are making vast investments, sparing resources and spending a lot of money. On the other hand, security is becoming a major problem all around the world. It is not only the governments' problem anymore. As individuals and regular citizens we feel its importance and necessity in every moment of our daily lives. 

 The situation is quite the same in Turkey. There is still a great need for security guards and services in many areas, but companies are having difficulty affording it. They are looking for better or at least the same quality security service with a lower cost. Can this be achieved? How?

 Before answering this question, let’s have a look at the traditional camera systems. Analog camera systems have been a major tool for the private security sector during the last 30 years. With the recording function, their main benefit is to provide proof of evidence. Guards use them for real time monitoring of the premises they protect. Unfortunately they are passive systems. Meaning that they do not prevent a crime unless a security guard determines the situation by chance out of many small camera pictures on the screens in front of him, which in many cases is impossible. Thanks to the improvements in security technology, the cameras are becoming more and more intelligent now. With the use of IP technology and video analytics software, each act as an alarm system. They can analyze the picture and make cross-line detection, identify loitering people, find unattended suspicious objects, determine wrong parking vehicles, and many more. They can even send alarm videos immediately to Remote Monitoring Centers (RMC) so that the operators in the RMCs are alerted before the crime happens. This way the operators have enough time to take the necessary action remotely such as; verify the alarm, send a guard or a police officer to the premises, inform the customer, and even make remote announcement directly to deter the intruder or criminal when necessary.      

So if we come back to the question “Is better security service with a lower cost possible?”, the answer is yes. Technology is improving and data transmission is getting better and cheaper every day. This makes remote security services a good alternative. By using intelligent cameras and secure data connection, some duties of guards on site can be transferred and achieved remotely by the operators in the Remote Monitoring Centers. And this results in a more technologically improved (better) security solution with less guards on site (lower cost).

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