Bewator and Crown Security Limited A crime fighting partnership

Alun Evans is presented with a certificate of accreditation from Bob Cotterill, the MD of Bewator/Siemens in recognition of his development of the new Red Alert 247 security management system.

Alun Evans is presented with a certificate of accreditation from Bob Cotterill, the MD of Bewator/Siemens in recognition of his development of the new Red Alert 247 security management system.

For many years, manned guarding has been the mainstay of the security industry. But the cost of manned guarding is rising fast, which is why Crown Security Group has worked with Siemens to develop a solution which is not only far less costly, but also much more effective.

When it was founded twenty years ago as a provider of on-site guarding services, Crown Security Ltd was typically charging clients around £350 per week for a security guard. Following the Government’s introduction of a minimum hourly rate, today that figure would be nearer £1,500 per week, - enough to persuade many companies that manned guarding as a security option has simply become to expensive to afford.

This is confirmed by a huge reduction in the number of security service providers. Once Crown Security Ltd had 23 nearby competitors that offered guarding services, now it has just two.

Alun Evans, Crown Security Ltd’s manageing director, is not however, a man to walk away from a challenge. His experience told him that a properly implemented remote monitoring using CCTV should be able to provide protection as effective as that given by on-site guards, but at a greatly reduced cost.

For the equipment and support that would help to transform this concept into reality, Alun Evans and his team looked closely at several potential suppliers. For the most part, they found systems on offer that Mr Evans outspokenly describes as sadistic.

“For almost all of the potential equipment supplies” he said, “the main objective was to record images of intruders going about their destructive business, so that clients cold squirm as they watched what had happened the next day, when it was far too late to do anything about it! That wasn’st at all what we wanted. We were looking for a system which would help us protect our clients’ property not simply catalogue its destruction and loss.”

One supplier of security equipment, however, stood out as being different from the others - Bewator. For Crown Security Ltd, the crucial factor was the sophisticated motion detection technology available with Bewator systems. Not only can this reliably detect motion anywhere in the picture area and generate an alert, it can also be set to ignore certain types of motion, or motion in particular parts of the image area.

This means, for example, trees that might move in the wind can be masked, and also the sensitivity can be adjusted so that cats and dogs moving through a protected area will not generate an alert. However, a human moving within that same zone would activate an alert to the control centre.

These settings can be altered remotely and easily by using the well-designed RMC software. Masking, for example, involves no more than “painting” with a mouse on the display screen and the changes can be made remotely via a network connection.

These dependable and versatile motion detection features allowed Crown Security Ltd to develop its new remote guarding system. In essence, this involved equipping the client’ss site with a CCTV installation which is exactly tailored to the security requirements of that site, and this in turn is linked via a secure IP connection to the Crown Security Ltd control centre in Port Talbot.

At this centre, images from every client's site are recorded in real time, but the key to the operation is the control room itself, where specially trained staff monitor the images on six display screens. If unexpected motion is detected at any of the client sites the relevant images instantly come up on one of these monitors. The control room staff can then take control of the cameras to monitor and investigate the site intrusion further.

This arrangement means that control room staff only deal with live incidents rather than having to scan banks of screens, most of which are showing nothing of interest or concern. Because they only deal with live incidents, the staff are able to respond very quickly. Crown Security Ltd aims to detect an alert within one second and, if necessary, to call the police with details of the incident within ten seconds.

In many cases, however, the control room staff can deal effectively with the alert by issuing live verbal warnings to the intruders via the same IP link used to transport the images from the client site to the control centre.

“We worked very closely with Bewator over a period of 18 months to optimise out system” said Alun Evans, “and the company was always ready to help and share its expertise. As a result of our joint efforts, the system is now so good at discriminating between genuine incidents and false alarms that we need only two control room operators on duty at any one time to monitor the images from 50 sites, each with between four and eight cameras.”

This low staffing level has important benefits. First, it makes it possible for the operators to move from monitoring to other duties after two hours, ensuring that those on duty are always at peak alertness. Second, it helps to minimise the cost of operating the service, allowing Shield Security Ltd to offer its clients very attractive pricing.

For a typical site, Shield Security Ltd charges just £100 per week over a three-year contract period. This includes not only the remote guarding services, but also the provision, installation and maintenance of Bewator CCTV equipment on the client’s site, and a 24 hour recording service for images received from the site. Clients can even log in remotely, via the Internet, to view the images from their own site.

“As well as providing the motion detection functions which are the heart of our system, the Bewator products suit us very well in every other respect” said Alun Evans. “The company offers a full range of cameras which produce high quality images right down to light levels of just 0.1 lux, something which is very important to us.”

“It products also feature excellent IP connectivity, which we need for the remove links to client sites,” he continues, “and its video switching matrixes provide the flexibility which is essential for us to be able to selectively route images from 50 client sites to our six control room monitors.”

The new remote guarding service, which Shield Security Ltd is marketing as Red Alert 24/7, is already proving hugely popular with the company’s clients, some of whom have found that the Bewator equipment is versatile enough to be configured to provide benefits which were not initially anticipated.

One client, for example, has made a huge investment in production equipment which needs to run continuously if it is to deliver a good return. With only minor adjustments, the security system is able to generate an alert if it fails to detect motion, which means that the production line has stopped. The Shield Security Ltd staff can then instantly inform the client so that remedial action can be taken.

Another client uses the remote video log-in facility to check when production lines are restarted after the daily lunch break. This has allowed up to 20 minutes per day of lost production to be eliminated, providing savings which, the delighted client explains, “are far greater than the savings we would make by preventing a break in!”

A final accolade from the Chief Crime Prevention Officer for South Wales Constabulary; following his visit to the Shield Security Ltd control centre he was so impressed with the quality of the system and operation that he invited Alun Evans to speak and demonstrate the system at the South Wales Constabulary headquarters. All parties concerned were duly impressed and several crime prevention officers from various forces intent to visit the Shield Security Ltd control centre to see how it might assist them locally in their fight against crime.