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Published in Provocate on 01 July 2020

AI to protect against expected rise in crime

With the current pressure of Covid lockdown restrictions on the economy and the resulted impact on unemployment, crime is expected to be on the rise. Traditional security solutions no longer serve the requirements of business and residential environments. AI and Surveillance could be the answer to counter criminal activities.

Seamless and unobtrusive security, cutting edge technology, data analytics and internationally recognized systems is front of mind when one thinks of Watcher Surveillance Solutions.

Born out of what surveillance really means, and an understanding of the pitfalls that are inherent in much of the country’s security environment, Johan van der Lith, Watcher CEO and co-founder, tells us “first one has to understand the complexities of a complete surveillance solution, it’s not about just buying a camera, hooking it up to a monitor and have a guard in a room to watch it.” “That is a fallible notion, and often leads to a reaction after the fact type scenario. Watcher Surveillance Solutions provide a 24/7 all year-round AI Surveillance service, which minimises the human failure factor. We have introduced next-generation computer technology and artificial intelligence (AI) into the surveillance space, which means that our systems are set up to detect and analyze ongoing feeds. When a breach occurs, an alert is raised, sent to the controller and gets acted upon immediately.”

“In short our aim is to ensure that critical operation control is pro-active and pre-emptive at the same time and less reliant on the human factor”, emphasizes van der Lith, “furthermore, one must also consider the cost of having several guards, monitoring and patrolling premises. The cost is often high and the environment not always conducive to guarding.”

“Our solutions can reduce the cost of personnel and ensure their safety, and because the solution is AI driven, all activities are logged, analyzed and reported upon. Patterns can be observed, protocols put in place and bespoke adaptions to client requirements adopted.”

“Cost is always a factor when deciding upon security. Our solutions are ideal for business parks, shopping complexes, residential estates but we can also cater for businesses not situated in parks depending on size and requirement. We are unique in that our solution is scalable. You, as a client do not have to buy any equipment, nor do you have to outlay any Capex.”

“Watcher offers contracts that range from 36 months up to as long as 60 months with managed and affordable monthly payment terms,” says van der Lith.

“We have two main elements to our process, the Surveillance Operation Centre , where we detect and act on events and our NOC, where we have maintenance personnel on standby to keep everything running smoothly. Our personnel are qualified technicians and we are Gold Partnered with best of breed AI technology providers.  These software solutions are sourced from the US, Europe and Japan.”

“Even though we are just under a year old – Watcher began operations in August 2019 – we have secured two large business parks and a number of residential complexes in Gauteng. Currently our geographic capabilities are concentrated to Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town and Durban but we are constantly expanding our reach.

In addition to these and testament to our operational flexibility, our system is also being used by leading security firms that have multiple business and residential properties between them.”

“Watcher makes technology affordable that was previously only found in high security risk areas, such as airports and public spaces, where biometrics, heat mapping, facial recognition and license plate detection as well as access controls are commonplace. Having said that the software Watcher uses is GDPR compliant and works within a secure internet operating environment. We are extremely conscious of South Africa’s sensitivity towards the POPI act, and footage is only used for what it is intended.”

Van der Lith concludes, “in keeping with current COVID-19 observations, we are also offering temperature monitoring along with facial recognition as part of our bespoke service. This all fits in with our ability to take applications further and adds to options such as monitoring foot count, and the analysis of shopper movement through heat detection patterns, as well as secure access control.”