‘There is upsurge in demand for security gadgets’
Written by Misbahu Bashir Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Engineer Peter Madu is the Managing Director of Acti-Tech limited, a company that sells and installs surveillance gadgets including Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras. In this intaerview with Daily Trust, he says there has been a surge in the demand for monitoring gadgets following the increase in attacks on homes and public places. Excerpts:
Is your company directly involved in the installation of surveillance equipments?
Yes, we install these gadgets in homes, offices and roads. We have done quite a number of installations recently for some highly placed individual and government institutions. We have installed gadgets in federal ministries, government houses and companies but we are not allowed to reveal these places.
What was the market situation for your gadgets and services before the recent wave of suicide attacks?
The market has witnessed an upsurge as you would imagine. I have had to discuss with the manufacturers of some equipment and everybody agrees that there was growing demand for security consciousness and gadgets for detection, prevention and monitoring. So the truth is that there is a rise in demand globally, and recently in Nigeria. Of recent, there has been an increase in awareness leading to a surge in demand and supply.
There are surveillance equipment such as the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), cameras and the scanners; which one would you say is in higher demand?
Well all surveillance gadgets are in high demand depending on choice. Surveillance cameras only show something is happening through monitors and if anything is concealed you can’t see it. This is where scanning comes. Scanning use various methods in revealing what is inside a container or a bag or even in the body of an individual. So it depends on ones budget. You can decide to use simple surveillance gadgets like the cameras used in shops to prevent shoplifting or do intense surveillance that require high calibre cameras like those installed on the streets. Some cameras work at night, some during the day while others work at both times. Some are only placed at certain positions while others can be installed at any angle. The inbuilt features determine the cost of cameras and people deploy the cameras they can afford. If you are tackling high security threat, you need advanced cameras. We have a number of high resolution devices including 3D x-ray device which can be fixed in places or moved from place to place (mobile resolutions). The mobile high resolution x-ray device enables you to do a quick scan of moving vehicles. We have one in my office. Another 3D x-ray device, made by a British company can be used by security personnel to search a vehicle without having to use bare hands. It is the only device that can scan using harmless x-ray technology to give image in 3 dimensions unlike the regular ones you see that are 2D. The 3D device has software that can enable you to do colour discrimination apart from using the x-ray to show you what is concealed in a vehicle or bag. Colour discrimination is intrinsic. For example orange, green or blue can be assigned to spot explosives.
One way of preventing bombings is to prevent the rampant sale of explosives making materials. In other countries, you can’t buy fertilizer if you don’t have license. There is strict monitoring of materials used in making IEDs from the point of entry to where they are used.
Apart from video recording through CCTV, do they record audio?
Yes, some can record sound and conversations, the cameras we have these days are sophisticated. Some even have speakers to enable you to speak, so they do visual and audio monitoring and recording. There are also cameras that do facial recognition and can detect criminals. Assuming a criminal is declared wanted and his picture is loaded into the camera software, the camera can identify that person even in a crowd.
Apart from government, do individuals buy and install monitoring equipments in their houses?
Yes, they do, nobody can protect you better than yourself. You need to be conscious of the surrounding. The fact is that if we are to fight security threats, everyone must contribute. Since the 9/11 attacks advanced countries have increased security budgets. We have installed gadgets in some houses even before the surge in terrorist attacks, for people to be able to identify the faces of people who are knocking on their doors. You know the kind of society we live in; you can stay at home and decide who to see. To be frank, the frequency of gadgets installation in private houses has increased now.
How effective are these gadgets?
They are effective but you can never have hundred per cent security because while you are deploying a number of measures to protect yourself, the criminals are also planning on how to out-manoeuvre you. People use advanced technologies to commit crime. But there are also a lot of inferior cameras being brought to Nigeria, especially from Asia and I wonder how they are brought in. Some of these substandard cameras are cheap but their maintenance cost is higher while the good ones, when you install them, they won’t break down. For instance, there were cameras we installed in the past nine years and our clients have never complained to us.
The most important way to address insecurity is for people to be fair to others in whatever they do. Injustice anywhere is a threat to peace anywhere. Look at what happened in Palestine and other parts of the Middle East. If people perceive that they are not benefiting from the government, they have no say and nobody listens to them, there won’t be peace. Look at what is happening in Nigeria now; there is huge imbalance in the spread of national wealth. I am happy that the security forces have identified the main problem.