Future car security

The New York Times’ Nick Bilton recently reported that he watched his car get broken into. This would be unremarkable – if obviously horrible – if not for how the thieves were breaking in.

“Just saw 2 kids walk up to my LOCKED car, press a button on a device which unlocked the car, and broke in. So much for our keyless future,” Nick Bilton Tweeted.

Keyless cars are a new target of both thieves and, of course, security analysts. The advantages are built into the design of the vehicle. SafetyShutdown outlines what keyless car security looks like:

“if someone enters the car without a valid ignition key, they won’t be able to drive away. Many keyless systems also use rolling codes. A computer inside the vehicle recognizes the rolling code projected by the smart key, and then verifies it before starting the engine. BMW’s smart keys also use computer-encrypted microchips to ward off car thieves who want to exploit this technology.”

The disadvantages are also numerous. Though perhaps many traditional thieves might be put off by the keyless system – and perhaps be caught – they are wisening up to know which vehicles are keyless and which aren’t; this means they’ll avoid your car but more advanced thieves might not. Advanced thieves are more hackers than traditional burglars, using sophisticated technology to hack into the system – since they don’t require manual keys to unlock, merely a frequency and various other digital options that can be obtained through illegal, but possible, means. This is, after all, how the individuals broke into Bilton’s car.

The solution isn’t to abandon keyless cars, of course; every advance we make in terms of security – whether it’s our houses, our internet or our cars – will be targeted by the advancement of thieves, too. That is, progress applies across the board, unfortunately.

While it’s not necessarily the case that the cars today are safer than pre owned cars, there are clear signs that cars today are safer than they were thirty years ago.

Security is essential and we should always be focused on ways to make it better – whether as owners or manufacturers. Keyless cars aren’t just progress in terms of keys of course – tracking devices, GPS location, remote deactivation are also all in place. That is, even if someone manages to hack into your car, there are other kinds of advanced security options that can help prevent further theft or stop the current one.

If you’re interested in pre owned cars, contact Inspectacar http://www.inspectacar.co.za/contact-us

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.

South Africa needs more small businesses to boost employment


South Africa is home to a worryingly low number of established small businesses and young people are urged to become entrepreneurs.

The most recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor revealed the established business rate in Sub Saharan Africa is high at 13%, but South Africa trailed behind at 2.9%.

“This is extremely low as it is these businesses that provide employment,” said Dr Mike Herrington, co-author of the GEM for South Africa and founder of the UCT Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at the publication’s launch at UCT last year. The figure has increased from 1.3% in 2005.

Herrington raised concerns about the number of established small businesses which had closed. The report found more established businesses were closing than were starting.

Reasons for closing businesses included: that the business was no longer profitable, the entrepreneur had problems getting finance, and various personal reasons.


Make your own opportunities


Young people were urged at the launch to create their own entrepreneurial opportunities.

“We need to let young people know that there are options out there,” said Jacqui Kew, the co-author of GEM’s South Africa report and senior lecturer in UCT’s Department of Accounting.

The report indicated that 25 percent of young South Africans, aged between 18 and 34, believed they had the skills and knowledge to start a business.


Tax relief for small businesses


Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene this week announced tax relief for small start-up ventures. This was seen as a positive move which will likely encourage more young people to open their own businesses.

Lizette Wiese and Thandi Sobhuza, assistant managers for tax at EY, told Fin24 that micro businesses with turnovers of less than R335 000 a year will not have to pay tax.

This threshold increased from R150 000 last year. In addition, the tax payable on turnover generated between R750 001 and R1 000 000 was reduced from R15 500 plus 6% to R6 550 plus 3%.

“This will provide relief to start-up entities and thus, in our view, will encourage more entrepreneurs to enter into business ventures,” they said.


Start a business
Now is the perfect time to start your own small business. That idea that keeps popping into your head – do something about it. Don’t hesitate. Make a decision about what you’ll need to get your business off the ground, apply for asset finance and get started. It is up to you to create opportunities for yourself, because no one else is going to help you get where you need to be.

Technology changing fleet management


Technology is changing the face of fleet management industry with new tools saving companies money on fuel and maintenance.


A pilot project has been underway in Washington DC on government vehicles. The system used can tell when drivers are showing bad driving behaviours – breaking hard, speeding and accelerating quickly.

A report on the project said: “Drivers went 5 miles per hour over the posted speed limit 5 000 times each month and went 10 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit 2 000 times per month”.

“By applying these numbers to the state’s entire set of vehicles and drivers it is apparent that the state has a significant amount of potential liability in the driver’s behavior as well as a real opportunity to save on fuel,” the report said.

“With an active program of transparency, coaching and formal development of telematics data into a vehicle use policy we often see these drop by 90 percent or more for our customers.”

In Canada, a panel discussion was recently held where new technologies in fleet management were discussed.

“In this industry it’s not all about the shiny new piece of tin, it’s about what technology can really drive to your business metrics,” Mike Ham, the vice-president of Canadian sales with Fleet Complete, said at the discussion.

“Technology is an enabler. Technology provides information, data, details, metrics and it provides you information on how you actually run your company.”

New technologies are available which tell the driver about their bad habits as they happen rather than later.

In addition to saving on fuel and maintenance costs, these technologies make driving safer for drivers and others on the road, lowering the risk of accident liabilities.

The added bonus of improved technology in your fleet’s vehicles is less paperwork and improved time management.

“The technology validates when drivers stop and when drivers start,” explained Ham. “We all know that without technology we’re filling out pieces of paper, we’re doing time clocks…and we’re finding that there was anywhere between 30, and an hour to an hour-and-a-half per day, per driver that could be turned into powerful utilization and productivity.”

With all of these innovations being added the to fleet management sector, the only question is when your business will join the technological revolution.

What gives the first impression of your business?


What is the first impression people have of your business? The first contact a potential client has with your brand could be a radio spot, a social media channel or your receptionist’s telephone etiquette. But we could say that it is your reception area that often gives the first solid impression of your business.

How do you use this to your advantage?

Communicate your brand

It’s not just about putting across a good impression. You also want the right impression to come across. If you are a quirky brand that prioritises creativity, you want your reception area to impart that idea. As soon as a potential client steps through the door they should realise this is a place where innovation happens. In other words, classic designs and cookie cutter decal wouldn’t give the right impression of your brand in that instance.

“Your store is an important advertising tool. It is so important that its elements, from signage to shopfitting, communicate your brand message,” says Eben Human from Assignment 3, a leading signage and printing company in South Africa. They work closely with advertising and branding agencies and directly with business owners to determine the right look and feel for their stores. Not sure what your brand image is? Then your first job should be to pinpoint and define your brand.

Be hospitable

If someone walks in but has to wait for whatever reason, make sure that their time is spent as comfortably as possible. Have reading material on offer that suits the setting. For instance, customers waiting to have their hair cut will probably appreciate hair or lifestyle magazines. If you have a consultation firm, on the other hand, you could provide trade publications relevant to your industry.

Have the right host

People underestimate the role of the receptionist or secretary in creating a good first impression. Remember that in many situations he or she will be the first human point of contact someone has with your business. If your receptionist is slouched at the desk, impolite and unprofessionally dressed, that is the impression received of your entire operation. Make sure you have the right receptionist representing your business.

Provide atmosphere

When walking into your reception area, what kind of atmosphere greets your customer? Does it give off a calm and relaxed feel or an energetic one? Either could be appropriate, as long as it ties into your overall brand as mentioned above. You could imagine an advertising agency having an upbeat atmosphere with a lot of hustle and bustle, but you would prefer tranquillity in a dentist’s office.

If the atmosphere isn’t what you would want it to be there are ways to remedy this, such as with background music or decal. If you’re really serious you might even want to change your office layout. This is where having the help of professional shopfitters will help you, like Assignment 3 in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression so make sure you get it right the first time. That could be the difference you need to get referrals and repeat business.