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Safeguarding homes, communities through hi-tech approach

By Adelowo Adebumiti
28 June 2020   |   4:13 am
With daily reports of widespread kidnappings, maiming, killings, armed robberies, banditry and all sorts of criminality being experienced in virtually all parts of the country...

With daily reports of widespread kidnappings, maiming, killings, armed robberies, banditry and all sorts of criminality being experienced in virtually all parts of the country, it is safe to conclude that insecurity remains the most pressing challenge facing the country at the moment.

And as the Federal Government appears grapples with finding solution, citizens are also getting more security conscious.

This is just as a global watchdog, Transparency International (TI) in a report published in September 2019 raised the alarm on how N241.2b annually spent on security votes does not translate to more security for the people.

Hardly does a day or night pass by without a Nigerian home or office being burgled or raided by men of the underworld.

Early last month, it was the turn of some families resident in two blocks of flats, in the Ijegun area of Lagos State to have a taste of what burglars have to offer. By the time the residents rose from the bed, they were terrified by the fact that they were at the criminals’ mercy while asleep, as they ransacked the entire apartment.

On how to secure homes with hi-tech, a security expert with Joa Difel System Limited, Mr. Oluleye Alamu, said Nigerians need to be security conscious and take steps to secure themselves, especially in their homes.

According to him, the usual practice of fencing a house and providing burglarproof windows and doors is no longer enough to deter criminals.

Instead, the use of electronic gadgets to enhance security is now in vogue. given the level of sophistication attained by criminals in the society.

Alamu who canvassed the use of Closed-circuit Television (CCTV) to monitor the environment in order to detect criminals before they carry out their mission said: “When CCTV cameras are linked to an uninterrupted source of power supply, such as an inverter, they can record 24 hours a day, and this helps the householder to playback and appraise everything that happened in his/her absence,” he said.

The security expert also explained that the deployment of a burglar alarm system at home is also another way of beating criminals and intruders on their tracks, as well as warn residents of the presence of strange characters.

He said: “When you press the alarm code to arm your home, if anybody tries to gain entrance into the house, the alarm will vibrate, and trigger off to alert neighbours. It can also be connected to your phones to send a message warning about intrusion or robbery.

“We also have the fire alarm system that is equipped with smoke detectors to serve as an early warning system in the event of fire incidents at home. They are very important in detecting fire outbreaks and they play crucial roles in checkmating arsonists, who may want to burn down houses,” Alamu said.

Even though some of these technologies are quite expensive, the safety and peace of mind that they give make them worth acquiring.

Alamu also recommended Access Control, as one of the ways, which householders could regulate or limit access to their homes.

He said: “Once deployed, access control systems perform identification authentication and authorisation of users and entities, by assessing required login credentials that can include passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), biometric scans, security tokens, or other authentication factors. Multifactor authentication, which requires two or more authentication factors, is often an important part of the layered defence to protect access control systems.”

While there are also motion sensors, which utlilise infrared light to sense movements around the house, Alamu said a new direction in home security might be the use of drones to replace or augment guard dogs.

“Even as we speak, Sunflower Labs, a San Francisco-based startup, is combining motion detectors, a quadcopter, and a mobile phone app into a comprehensive home security system. But I am very much aware that drones could do a lot to augment security, including being used to survey perimeter fencing, check the security situation, conduct constant surveillance over large areas and generally have a bird’s eye view of the property, especially for people with large homes.”

For people with small budgets, the security expert recommended the Internet Protocol (IP) camera, a digital video camera that receives, controls and sends image data through the Internet, and can work with mobile phones, and uses memory cards.

Alamu said: “IP cameras are commonly used for surveillance. Unlike the CCTV, the IP cameras, which are rechargeable require no local recording device, but a local area network. They can be directly accessed over a network connection. Some of the camera features are motion detectors; two-way audio, and WiFi and video can be viewed remotely from phones.

“This means that the owner of such device can access or keep track of his/her office or home from a smartphone or tablet with just a few clicks. This technology notifies the owner of the property of any motion and also sends alerts via picture message.

He continued: “Communities, especially estates can also deploy some of these systems to checkmate criminal activities around them. They can have a minimum of two cameras at their main entrances and exits to monitor people coming in and those going out.”

The Chairman, Community Development Association (CDA), Ajileye Street, Ije Ododo, Ijegun, Lagos State, Mr. Rufus Olugbenga Akinnifesi agreed that there is the compelling need for CDAs to be involved in security matters because security is everybody’s responsibility.

Akinnifesi, urged CDA’s to, apart from employing highly qualified security personnel, exchange telephone numbers among residents to serve as an effective early warning system.

He added that paying particular attention to incomplete buildings in neighbourhoods is another way of guarding against unfortunate incidents as unwanted individuals could use such structures as operational bases for their nefarious activities.

The CDA chief also cautioned against high fences, saying such could be counterproductive as neighbours may be totally in the dark when criminal elements are operating in such compounds.

Also commenting on contemporary ways of keeping safe amid the country’s worsening security situation, the Regional Manager, West Africa, Bosch Security and Safety Systems, Mr. Paul Nwokolo, said measures put in place to secure assets (home and environment) should be derived from a risk-based approach.

He said: “This involves people identifying threats and risks that their assets are exposed to and putting in place strategies to mitigate them. The risk profile should be the basis for risk mitigation measures because what works in Maiduguri might not work in Lagos or Enugu. Security risks mitigation measures will include policies, procedures and security technologies because assets are more protected when they are secured by design.

“A whole range of technologies are available today, many of them are easy to use, and require no special training. This includes access control systems, video surveillance systems, intrusion detection systems, trackers, etc. Depending on the risk profile of the location, one or a combination of technologies would be sufficient to deter crime. But I will strongly recommend home intruder alarm systems. This system will not only alert neighbours when there is a threat, but also notify law enforcement agencies and provide, in some cases, visual verification of the threat. The alarm and video can be viewed through any smartphone from anywhere in the world.”

Nwokolo said communities would gain a lot by employing the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), which involves discouraging criminal behaviours through environmental design.

“Strategies to be considered include, natural access control, natural surveillance, territorial enforcement, infrastructure maintenance, and neighborhood watch.”

For Nigerians to feel more secure, Nwokolo said the government should consistently enunciate policies and regulations that will aid crime detection and improve response time.

“Nigerian building codes should be improved on and enforced. The Federal Government should also provide the police with adequate resources to ensure that their response time improves drastically and encourage community policing. Security technology is worth nothing if there is no fast response from law enforcement agencies. This is because security technology can only deter crime, but not stop it from being committed. Determined criminals will break technology barriers if they know there would be no response from law enforcement,” he said.

On his part, an estate agent, Mr. Noah Ayelabola, said while concentrating attention of external security arrangements, screening of domestic workers or security guards should be rigorously and extensively done, and even the police involved so that this class of workers do not stay inside the homes and leak vital security information to criminals outside.

While attributing the high crime rate in the country to unemployment, Ayelabola said that governments, individuals and organisations should create more job opportunities for the youths. This, he insists, will help reduce crime in the society.