It is easier for one to think that the security industry has remained the same over the years. But, those in the know will tell you that worldwide, trends and technological innovations have greatly affected the industry. Much like it has done to other sectors.

Over the years, crime has evolved with increased digitization and the rapid development of the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Criminals have become more refined and customers have on the other hand become technically mature and are demanding sophisticated solutions.

 “We are no longer seeing customers only asking for a security guard to man gates. Rather they are demanding sophisticated technology that detects explosives or even motion,” says Julius Delahaije, the CEO and Chairman of SGA Security.

For private security agencies, Delahaije adds, customer evolution has created new challenges and opportunities. Service providers are now forced to either adopt new technology or perish.  For companies such as SGA, it is a race against time to innovate and develop customer centric solutions to the ever evolving market.

The firm was founded 50 years ago. Today, SGA has 30 branches and more than 15,000 employees in East Africa. It serves a mix of local and international companies and individuals, Governments as well as Non-Governmental Organizations.

SGA group provides manned guarding services; cash in transit and cash management; electronic security including alarms, access control, surveillance systems and CCTV; event security and VIP services; cargo tracking and escort; consultancy and investigation, as well as specialized services in cyber security.

To embrace evolving technology, SGA developed a guard monitoring system. The system is a real-time observation to monitor guards on patrol at a client’s residential or commercial premise. It allows the supervisors monitor service levels for any number of guards on patrol thus providing an exceptional, proactive service to clients.

“This system is designed in a way that in an instance where guards fail to conduct patrol at a particular time, information is availed to users in real time and alert is raised.”

With motion detectors becoming an integral part of a home security system, SGA is also offering motion detectors technologies, video analytics as well as innovative intelligence tech solutions.

Intelligent video management software enables a near instant forensic search of recorded video using criteria such as color or size and face recognition capabilities. The system investigates and filters recorded video by similarities such as size, color, direction, speed of object motion, and more.

 It also has the ability to capture license plates and access automated number plate recognition of both full and partial number plates and an interactive 3D map with a visual overview of all installed cameras on a site map.

According to Delahaije, the advances in security technology and especially the ability for equipment to perform traditional guard functions, customers are increasingly seeing it as possible solution.

 However unlike what is perceived, he is of the opinion that technology and manpower will co-exist. “I believe like everything in life, moderation and balance are key to a successful security program,” he says.

For example, a vault that necessitates high physical security may need one guard, whereas a museum with 20 entrances and publicly accessible high value items might require more guard force and the use of camera equipment throughout. “The ultimate goal is to create a balance—as one part of the security triangle is increased, the others may be reduced while maintaining the same level of security,” says Delahaije.

Prior to joining SGA, Delahaije was the CEO of IT firms Linxtelecom and Linxdatacentre where his roles mainly were to advise on data center solutions as well as ICT security in Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia.  

Countries in Africa have reported an exponential growth in the industry over the past couple of decades. Private security companies range from tiny operators to those that employ thousands. In Kenya, the number of companies has grown over the last few years. The industry is estimated to directly employ over half a million people, with an estimated annual turnover of over KSh300 billion.

However, private security industry is highly contested and is beset by a number of challenges. These include poorly paid guards with few or no benefits, skills or training, and who operate in conditions which are substandard and even dangerous.Only a small number of private security companies in Kenya are duly registered, train their staff well and pay minimum wages.

However Mr Delahije, 59, believes that the assent of the Private Security Regulation Act and its commencement has brought the entire industry under central and public regulation. Under the Act, the Private Security Regulatory Authority was created with the board being appointed in 2017 and a CEO coming in recently. The Authority is expected to implement the law.

The Act defines the scope of the industry and private security providers, lays down the basis of both registration and licensing and the framework for co-operation with national security organs. It defines and brings all security equipment under its regulation, provides a framework for inquiry into the conduct of private security providers, a code of conduct for the industry of which every security provider must bring themselves to date with.

“Security is no longer about muscles and violence, it is more about being proactive than reactive.” Mr Delahajie believes it is important to get a good education and be passionate about security.

He says the firm has over the years made progress. And moving forward, he adds, the firm is focusing on innovations, while partnering with a number of software solution providers in a bid to offer better services.

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