Latitude Corporate News
All Eyes on Warehouse Security.
Mehar Nimkhedkar, Project Manager,
As an economy develops, the population increases and with it increases crime. Thefts in warehouses are becoming more and more commonplace fuelling the need to have better security.
Warehouse thefts have become almost as common as Louis Vuitton bags in the UAE. Dubai Police reports that the amount of robberies has increased tremendously over the last year. Most recently, a six-person-strong gang was caught after stealing a mobile phone worth over US$300,000 from a warehouse in Jebel Ali Free Zone. Such is the severity and consistency of such activity that the Department of Criminal Investigation (CID) has formed a task force called 'Major Thefts & Violent Crimes Enforcement Task Force'.
In the past few months, Dubai Police have been notified of another gang which was cutting off padlocks from warehouse gates and replacing them with their own, with the intention of breaking in at a later date. The criminals, identified to be those belonging to an Asian gang, have since been arrested.
This recent epidemic affecting the warehouse industry highlights the gravity of a stringent, albeit expensive, security design implemented in such facilities. Such headlines should motivate companies to think ahead and secure the contents of their warehouse facilities. While the cost of more high-tech solutions scares most customers away, a more lenient design can ultimately cost much more.
"Most of the people we come across aren't really looking into preventing break-ins. It seems that people aren't thinking proactively. They just want to restrict access so that guests and solicitors can't walk right in," says Mehar Nimkhedkar, Project Manager at Latitude Systems in Al Quoz. Nimkhedkar, who has designed the security solution for two warehouses in Dubai, finds that combining a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system with access control technology is necessary for even the most basic storage facility. "Goods and people are coming and going all the time at such facilities. Something needs to be able to track their movements 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he says.
Syed Khurram, Business Development Manager at Dedicated Micros, a company that manufactures CCTV technology and is constantly looking for ways to stretch its boundaries, supports this school of thought. "The demand for more control and security is seen more from the security advisors and implementer's point of view. Dubai police have become quite strong about these things, saying they want to form a regulation or policy forcing warehouses to adhere to stricter security requirements."
"Companies are still not aware of the necessity of such systems, yet. It will take time for these robberies to lead to an increase in demand," Khurram says. "From a market perspective, this is not something that starts showing up immediately. It will start to appear when the policy is implemented by the police." He also agrees with Nimkhedkar in the view that most warehouse owners and clients don't request high-security systems, primarily because they don't do cost-benefit analysis. "People aren't really ready to pay high costs, yet."
"Access control solutions are used in areas which require controlled access," explains Nimkhedkar. Not only entry and exit doors, but data centers, accounts departments and goods storage areas. There are multiple levels of access management in such devices - biometric, access cards, passwords, or any combination of these. "There is no such thing as too much security," he says. "However, this would also increase the cost of the solution and the repetition of user identification for exits and entrances reduces time efficiency and productivity."
Is it enough to have a comprehensive access control system or CCTV system? "Usually one component is not enough to do the whole job," says Khurram. "An access control system will not do the job on its own. If you only have surveillance cameras, they can't tag the people in the system. However, together they fill in each others' gaps."
So, what type of system should warehouse owners and managers request? "This depends on the activities and items stored in the warehouse," says Musbah Abbera from Citytec, one of the largest security solution providers in the Emirates. "For warehouses, there must be cameras at all entrances and exits, indoors and outdoors with night-vision. The main gate must have access control to ensure that only employees are given access and so their hours inside the warehouse can be monitored. Other security technology can be added on to enhance the security levels, including police call systems, intrusion alarm systems and infrared motion detectors," he says.
"A stringent design of the access control solution would be to have biometric Access Control devices on the outside and the inside of the main entrances for time and attendance monitoring," adds Nimkhedkar. "Logging the sign-in and sign-out times through the devices on the main doors increases the efficiency and productivity, while managing access to the secured areas enhances security." In addition to this, every door within the complex would have biometric access control devices inside and outside for regulating the entry and exit along with logging of entry and exit times for the specific person to and from that area, he says. While this solution would be quite expensive, it would prove to be extremely secure and efficient.
Khurram backs the merits of a well-designed CCTV system, which he says was invented by Dedicated Micros 25 years ago. "We really own the DNA of this technology," he boasts. "But CCTV is no longer CCTV per se," he says. "Now, it is no longer used just within four walls. It can be viewed from remote locations in different time zones even. It is capable of doing much more than before. CCTV systems are now more pliable and can be integrated and designed with different focuses in mind. For example, if a camera detects a movement in a designated storage area at night, it can be programmed to give an instruction to the access control system, triggering the doors to lock. It can potentially prompt sirens and contact the police with the GPS location as well," Khurram explains.
"At the end of the day, CCTV cameras provide us with remote eyes. The security industry, however, is determined to provide more capable networked CCTV systems to combat attacks and allow clients to obtain the evidence required for prosecution," Khurram says. The introduction of high definition (HD) megapixel CCTV cameras, such as Dedicated Micros' CamVu 2000, provides the potential to accurately identify suspects and achieve successful convictions.