Residential estates, just how safe are they

November 2009

It is a sought-after prospect to live in a guarded safe-haven, attune with all the technological trimmings these complexes offer their residents. But just how effective are these trimmings? And can we be sure that we are not being conned into complacency?

The Department of Forensic Investigation’s Dr Rudolph Zinn, believes after extensive investigation into the mindset of criminals conducting house robberies and hijackings in South Africa, that residents in complexes and estates must be aware that these establishments are no longer the safe havens they purport to be.
Dr Rudolph Zinn
Dr Rudolph Zinn
Honing in on crime statistics relating to secure complexes, Dr Zinn reported that although secure complexes have traditionally been perceived as more difficult targets, this perception is changing. “Often in the case with complexes, the homeowners rely too much on perimeter security and do not invest sufficiently in individual security, thus making their homes an easy target,” he said.
Jack Edery, CEO of Elvey Security Technologies agrees that homeowners must not be numbed into a false sense of security when buying into any estate. There are many break-ins occurring within the so-called secure boundaries of security and lifestyle estates. For Edery, the answer to Joe Citizen’s security needs, no matter where he lives, lies in integrated technology that can provide a complete solution from perimeter to interior.
Secure from design phase
Zinn’s research has revealed that security needs to be a major factor when designing complexes and estates. ADT, for example, has started working closely with the developers of new complexes, assisting in developing the security solutions at the design stage. ADT has also met the demands of open, lifestyle type-estates by providing discreet branding and bicycle patrols as less-intrusive security measures.
ADT Johannesburg’s managing director, Roy Rawlins, said ADT has put in place several solutions to combat growing crime in secure complexes. “Securing the perimeter of complexes is the first step but the next priority is to ensure the safety of residents and individual properties inside the walls,” says Rawlins.
Not incident driven
Results of Dr Zinn’s study show that security companies making a difference in their local community are those that grow and evolve their crime prevention strategies to align with the evolving modus operandi of criminals. “Community involvement does, according to research, dwindle over time, and crime prevention strategies that are pro-active and not just incident driven, seem to be the ones that survive and grow,” says Zinn.
The message is clear
Home security companies can only really achieve optimum results for neighbourhoods by building successful partnerships with the residents and the body corporates in complexes and estates. Security in these residential set-ups is now becoming far more specialised; it is therefore essential that the complex’s security provider can provide a comprehensive security service that includes technical support and pro-active planning.
With solutions ranging from guarding and phone-in solutions, panic alarms, full alarm monitoring all with immediate armed response, there is no need to compromise the historic success of the gated community.
It is about Internet communication in the control room
Predicting a shift to new communication technology by the country’s leading security service providers sooner rather than later, Elvey product manager Valerie Bingham says standard Internet protocol (IP) technology and GSM is the way of the future for professional security control rooms.
“Alarm communication has traditionally been via radio or telephone line,” she explains. “However, the Internet has now become the backbone of modern communication.”
Using the standard IP technology to send information offers numerous benefits, she says. It is already saving the residential and business sector billions of rands each year as an inexpensive, reliable network for the transmission of information between various locations and their customers. It also provides two-way, always-on communication between control panels and central monitoring station receivers. When something goes wrong or a line is cut, the central monitoring station knows almost immediately, providing a far higher level of security than a traditional phone line.
Another major benefit to security providers and their control rooms is that the new communication takes place over high-speed networks, which allows for fast, easy and remote management and programming of systems from anywhere in the world.

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