Turnstar The future of building security

If we had to look at our history of how we’ve protected ourselves, our loved ones and our property, we could also trace a history of ourselves as a species. Where once it was simply crude fences, dotted around an enclosure is now sophisticated high tech.

For example, in America, security firms are offering security equivalent to some banks. TechHive reports:

“IControl Networks announced the Icontrol One, a plug-in module and service package that will enable these smaller service providers to not only upgrade their existing control panels to work with 3G cellular networks, but also add Z-Wave and Wi-Fi capabilities so they can offer their customers connected-home and video-camera features in addition to straightforward home security.

…Customers will now have the option of expanding their alarm systems into full-blown connected home setups.”

In South Africa, local tech wizards are using easy-to-use mobile apps to make neighbourhoods safer, by trying to keep residents informed about activities. The Cape Town-based startup, OurHood, for example, is making an impact. “650 suburbs are using [OurHood],” says htxt, “to send out updates from residents associations and local security teams, and to make life easier for all involved.”

The importance for the developers is the realisation of cross-generation interaction: that is, older people might not feel as comfortable using the internet to use OurHood. Thus, they designed an easy-to-use app. Bruce Good told htxt:

“We are ultimately trying to use tech to make stronger, safer and better neighbourhoods… A frustration is that users rely on apps like Whatsapp or Facebook for neighbourhood communication when they have such limited functionality and aren’t designed for their needs. When we talk them through the pain of the invasive Whatsapp alerts and how they can benefit from having an app with all of the features that Facebook and WhatsApp have, with bespoke notification settings and a range of other features, we always see that ever-satisfying lightbulb moment.”

In countries like South Africa, and continents like Africa, mobile apps can work wonders – security doesn’t need to be rich countries with high-tech abilities around your home. It can be an alert and notification of current activities, too.

Security is a broad category, from man traps to security apps on mobile phones; what matters is that we are using technology to improve the lives and safety of other people. So far that seems to be what’s occurring.

But we should care about things like man traps, which are ideal in high value or critical security areas, like cash handling depots, sensitive data processing areas, security control rooms, critical research labs, jewelry stores and vaults. Companies like Turnstar are available for site visits to assess your unique situation and requirements, as well as to ensure your man traps are installed correctly.

Turnstar are dedicated to making sure your project is completed on time, within budget and with zero failure.


Need for improved school safety


In recent weeks there have been a number of attacks on school pupils and cases of children found smuggling weapons into schools.

Much clearly needs to be done to improve school safety.


Recent incidents

Earlier this month, two East London pupils were arrested after they were found with guns, magazines and a pocket knife while at school.

Teachers had noticed the pair handling a suspicious package.

A raid at a Johannesburg school in February uncovered five knives.

“The operation resulted in the recovery of five knives and two packets of cigarettes. No drugs were found,” said police spokesperson Lloyd Ramovha.

Police and narcotics dogs arrived at the school announced as part of a police campaign to rid schools of drugs and weapons.

Parkview police and three narcotics search dogs arrived at the school unannounced on Wednesday morning.

A KwaZulu-Natal school pupil was killed in January and another was left to fight for his life in two separate incidents.

Just days into the new school year, the two boys were attacked outside their schools.

Grade 12 pupil Thobani Philani Shezi, 21, was stabbed by robbers outside Roseville Secondary School.

Police said at the time he had been killed for his cellphone.

A gang fight was believed to have been the cause of a 16-year-old pupil being stabbed outside Hillview High School gates the day before, allegedly by a 21-year-old man who lived in the same neighbourhood as the teenager.

Residents of these areas had called for increased safety.

KwaZulu-Natal Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi called on schools in the province to beef up security.


Talking points

School security has long been a topic of discussion and it appears this is being translated into tangible action.

Some ideas to improve school security include metal detectors, access control booths, turnstiles and boomgates.

In 2009, 109 high-risk schools were provided with handheld metal detectors.

These were used on an ad-hoc basis rather than on a daily basis but anecdotal evidence suggested their presence and the possibility of their use had assisted in decreasing incidents.

Schools across the country had also upped their police visits and patrols.

A report by the Institute of Security Studies reads: “A number of government-led initiatives are under way to address issues that impact negatively on teaching and learning in schools. These include reducing firearm violence, substance abuse, sexual violence, child abuse, and preventing HIV/Aids.”

The ‘other’ costs of buying a car

carIf you are thinking of buying a car you have probably already thought about the budget. The biggest cost factors are fuel and loan payments, but they are not the only ones. Not by a long shot.

Are you really aware of all the costs involved?

Car insuranceCar insurance is technically an optional extra, but it is one of those things you should really have. You never know what could happen, and no matter how carefully you drive you can’t prevent other people’s mistakes on the road. There are different kinds of insurance covers so make sure you are getting the right one for your needs and budget.

Interest – You are probably going to pay for your car by applying for financing. Most people don’t pay for a car in cash these days. However, with financing comes interest, which is not an insignificant amount. Thankfully you can reduce the interest by putting down a bigger down payment and selecting a short repayment term. However, this means saving a bit longer and paying off more every month, which does make things a bit tougher. But the payoff is that you save in the long run.

Taxes – The taxes you pay on a car could be included in the purchase price you see or they could be worked into your monthly payments. What taxes you pay also depends on the country where you are buying a car. For instance, pre-owned cars in South Africa will abide by South African tax laws. Nonetheless, you want to make sure you don’t get a nasty surprise down the line, so make sure whether the taxes are worked into the price you see or whether they’re an ‘extra’ cost you still need to factor in.

Repairs and maintenance – A vehicle warranty will cover most of the repair and maintenance expenses (though not necessarily everything) during the first few years of a new car. With a second-hand car, however, it is less likely you will get a warranty, and even if you do, it won’t be as extensive. Before you buy your car, do some research to find out how much repairs will cost you in general.

Fines – When buying a car we typically don’t think of paying fines as one of the expenses of owning a car. Unfortunately they do happen and they are not inexpensive. Getting regular speeding fines will add greatly to the expenses of owning a car, so try to reduce this by obeying the traffic laws at all times.

Depreciation – This is a cost factor many people don’t think of. As soon as you drive your car off the lot it starts to lose value.  This is especially relevant in new cars. This isn’t an expense you’re actively paying like taxes, but it does need to be taken into account, particularly when the time comes to trade your car in. Remember that the better you look after your car, the more value it will retain.

If you really want to plan your long-term budget properly, you need to factor in all these additional costs. While these aren’t exactly ‘hidden’ costs, you could easily forget to include them in your budget.

How do we manage traffic

Every modern city with roads must deal with traffic. There are more cars than there is space for fluid travel: Everyone wants to go to the same parts of the city, at the same time. To help ease this, automated traffic lights were created in modern times that operated on timers; even non-electric tools are in place, as well as driving abilities are taught to manage and ease traffic. Yet, the future of motoring could mean better management of traffic and make life easier for all.

The situation is dire – and it’s not just in the heads of worried drivers. Governing.com reports:

“A 2012 report by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, a university-based research agency, estimated that in 2020, the delays caused by traffic congestion nationally will grow to 8.4 billion hours, resulting  in the average commuter wasting 45 hours and 25 gallons of gas.”

To combat this, officials and technology boffins recognised the importance of improving the systems that helped manage traffic. They decided to implement adaptive technology.

“Over the past few decades, most transportation agencies have replaced old-fashioned, pre-timed traffic signals that changed at consistent intervals with newer technologies that detect the presence of cars and adjust the green time accordingly. Many use electromagnetic loops in the pavement. When cars drive over the loops, they activate sensors, prompting the light to stay on for a certain period. Often, the timing at intersections only gets reset every three to five years.”

Sometimes, however, it’s not just better technology that can help alleviate traffic. For example, the US and Canada border is the focus for new legislation that could help facilitate easier movement between both countries – this could mean faster travel for commuters, which means faster trade from which everyone benefits. All of this feeds into how fleet management will operate, as businesses can use new information and better systems to help alleviate the concerns for their drivers and transport.

This is not just a economic problem, but health and life risk too. The BBC reports:

“According to researchers at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, congestion in the 83 largest urban areas in the United States caused more than 2,200 premature deaths in 2010 and added $18bn to public health costs.”

Some cities are trying extraordinary steps. “Link smart sensors with a system that guides drivers quickly and efficiently to vacant parking spots and the hope is this will ease congestion.”

Russia is one of the smartest countries in terms of handling congestion, by focusing on parking availability.

“Two years ago in Russia, Moscow trialled smart parking providers and is now using a system developed by Worldsensing, says Mischa Dohler, professor at King’s College London and co-founder of the company. He says that with nearly 20,000 smart parking spaces, Moscow is by far the largest smart parking smart city deployment in the world.

The number of traffic jams has gone down, Dohler says, “mainly because people are being informed about the non-availability of parking, and they thus keep out of the narrow one-way streets in the centre.”

Using a combination of smart systems and improved technology, we can help ease the problem of traffic – which is a life and death problem, not merely a work inconvenience one.



Beware wolves in sheep’s clothing

It’s easy to spot the bad guy in cartoons. He (it’s always a he) wears black and white striped clothing, or is unshaven with a devious-looking thin moustache.

Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to spot the criminal in real life. Not when they are getting smarter about how to fool you. One method we are seeing often these days are criminals dressing up as security personnel or police officers.

If you can’t trust someone in a policeman’s uniform, who can you trust? It’s important you are able to discern the wolves from the sheep.

It can happen to anyone

It’s a terrifying scenario. We take it for granted that someone in a police or armed response uniform is there to protect us and keep things under control. But there are criminals who take advantage of that trust. Here is an example where six men dressed as policemen, went to a factory in Johannesburg and told the people there they were looking for drugs, but then left with money from the factory. There are many people doing good community work in security jobs in Gauteng, but that doesn’t mean anyone in a uniform is on your side. The same goes for elsewhere in the country.

Here is another example, this time in Durbanville, Cape Town, where a domestic worker opened the door to six robbers dressed in the uniform of an armed response company. They tied the domestic worker up and proceeded to loot the house, before eventually getting caught because their hijacked car had been traced.

These are just two such cases, a few days apart in March 2015.

Learn to take the uniform at face value

It is interesting and often observed that people tend to implicitly place trust in someone wearing a uniform. This doesn’t just go for police or security uniforms. For instance, if you are in a building and approached by someone in a maintenance uniform to not use a specific entrance, you will probably follow their direction. The same goes for someone in a nurse’s uniform in a hospital. Usually you would comply with whatever they say. The uniform is a sign that the wearer is legitimate and ordained by authority in whatever domain the uniform belongs to.

Distinguishing people from the uniforms they wear is a practical way of processing the world around you so that you can make quick decisions. However, you still need to be careful and take the uniform at face value. It is so important to remember that anyone could be behind that uniform. If you have an encounter with the police, security guards or other officials, always ask yourself, “what if this person is not who their uniform implies?” If you could potentially be in a dangerous situation, take steps to verify the person’s identity.

For example, if approached by a police officer, you have the right to ask that they verify their identity by producing their SAPS ID, which should contain a colour photograph of the officer, the person’s name, and the police insignia – the aloe.  At the back of the ID you should see his rank and police force number, along with the national police commissioner’s signature.

We all are aware of the problem of crime in South Africa and many of us have been affected. That’s why it is so important that we remain vigilant and educate ourselves and our children about how to spot trouble and avoid dangerous situations.


Controlling access to your business premises

An important aspect of physical security is access control. With certain businesses it is important to regulate the movements of people in and out of the premises, as well as in various security areas within the building.

To make sure your access control suits your needs properly, here is a breakdown of what you need to think about.

There are different types

With access control, there is no one size fits all solution. There are various access control solutions you can choose from. It not only depends on the level of security you need, the type of building layout you have, but also your objective. For instance, perhaps you need to protect goods or restrict access to sensitive information, or maybe you just regulate foot traffic.  If the former, you might use something like a mantrap, whereas in the latter you might use speedstiles or turnstiles.

Establish clearance

Your employees will need varying clearance levels. Once you know which areas need to be secure and what level of security they need, you need to also know who will need access to the property, when and why. It is also important that you set up a proper procedure that will be adhered to consistently. For instance, should everyone on premises wear their identification at all times?

Also consider the nonemployees who will need access from time to time, such as visitors, clients and maintenance staff. Define what the procedure will be used in those situations.

Access cards

Most forms of access control either require monitoring, whether by CCTV surveillance or physical guards, or they need an access key of some kind. This could be literal keys, but a good option is to rather use access cards for gaining entry, because an electronic record can be kept of their use. Preferably, have identification cards that also serve as access keys.

Not only can access keys be tracked better than normal keys, they can also be deactivated or have an alert put on them if necessary. You can even customise people’s access by limiting their use to specific entries by time of day and day of week.

Identify secure areas

How much security do you really need, and very importantly, where do you need it?  This will be different for every type of business and organisation. Do you just need to control access at entry points or are there additional areas within the premises that need an extra level of security?

Study at you floor plan to see how to regulate access efficiently, without wasting resources on areas that don’t need as much security. For example, centralising your most sensitive areas could be a good way to use your resources most efficiently.

The above points should give you a good starting point to make sure that you not only have the right access control solution for your business, but that you go about implementing it in an effective and efficient manner, which ultimately saves your resources.