icomply’s work with Close Circuit Television operators is well established. Their software has meant companies can integrate their range of cameras to one control room and help make people feel safer in shopping centres; places of work; and back home in their communities. However surveillance technology has expanded beyond simply monitoring activity on the street and in buildings. icomply has been at the forefront of these developments.
One of the most exciting developments for icomply has been the work they have been involved with in India, with one of the country’s biggest providers of security and surveillance. When we spoke to Hugh Barker, Managing Director of icomply he was keen to talk about his involvement with the Indian company Zicom and their work with one of the country’s national banks. He told us “Zicom have a justified reputation of being very agile responsive innovators. Its an entirely justified reputation and we love working with them.”
The ‘cash-point’; the ‘hole in the wall’; and the ‘cash machine’ are all common names of a feature of modern life that we take for granted. The industry calls it the Automated Telling Machine (ATM) and it is now so commonplace that we forget a time when they didn’t exist, or were a novelty item found only in a handful of locations. If an ATM at a particular branch of a high street bank isn’t working you only need to walk a few yards to the nearest petrol station or post office to find the next one. Supermarkets were particularly keen to have them on site, they had spotted early on that ATMs were an attractive proposition as their stores who had them saw an increase of up to 20% in sales.
ATMs have spread to almost every corner of the world – making it easy to draw cash from accounts from places as far apart as Newcastle and Washington in the north of England to their counterparts in the USA and Western Australia. Current numbers have reached more that 2.5 million ATMs across the world. An extra 250 are reported to be added every day with a forecast increase to 3.7 million machines in the world by 2018. In 2013 the Guardian reported that “Brazil has 159,898 ATMs according to the World Bank’s last count, more than any other country in the world… with seven times more ATMs than Ireland [or] Iran.” There is even an ATM at McMurdo station in Antarctica.
This increase has led in turn to the rise of the worldwide phenomenon of cash point crime, something that was unheard of forty yearsago. In India the prevention and reduction of ATM theft has been labour intensive. Historically the banks in India have hired staff or contractors to act as security at ATMs, discourage theft and report incidents. Almost 200 thousand people have been employed in this way. With India’s emerging economy and rising number of ATMs this approach is increasingly seen as both inefficient and costly.
The need for the introduction of new surveillance technology in this area has been identified as an essential by the Indian banking sector. icomply have been working with one of the major players in this transformation to make these changes possible.
The Indian company Zicom is one of the biggest security electronics companies in Southern Asia. Their innovations in security systems have led the company to become a leading force in the market during the past two decades and to establish themselves as key players in the industry. With more than one million customers it has operations in 400 cities in 5 countries, and provides services to some of the best known companies in the sub-continents.
A few of India’s largest banks awarded them major contracts to provide security, surveillance and monitoring services for 000’s of their ATM machines across the country. Prior to bidding for this work Zicom was already a provider of a wide range of security products and had a substantial understanding of India’s security market. They created – through one of the arms of their wider portfolio – a new company ‘Security as a Service’ (SAAS). This new service placed the use of modern technology at its centre with the offer of being able to reduce the need for a physical presence of security at every site 24 hours per day.
It also meant that through SAAS Zicom can provide a comprehensive service. This draws a variety of strands into a single package – with resultant savings and benefits for their clients. These include being able to measure customer footfall, and provide data that can be used for planning and can be shared with third parties. It also provides a way to check on staff whereabouts and safety. Pramaud Rau (Managing Director of Zicom) has been quotes by the Times of India as saying “Banks are very happy with the offsite surveillance as this comes with a quick response team which includes motorcycle-borne guards who will arrive at the site within minutes of an incident,”
The use of new technology by the banks in India is already leading to substantial savings in costs. Nevertheless there has been criticism as an estimated 200 thousand security jobs could be lost across the sector. On the other hand the approach has also received praise as the move to more mobile security teams will reduce the risk staff currently working in isolation.
In winning these e-surveillance contracts Zicom have become the latest to join icomply’s portfolio of partners. Their V-TAS pro system has been one of the cornerstones of Zicom’s ability to integrate range of hardware that includes cameras, recorders and alarms that can be used in single command centre. The bank is able to monitor thousands of ATMs from one control room, instead of employing one security guard per machine. The versatility of icomply’s system means that Zicom can also incorporate two-way communication systems into ATMs with (potentially) links to local police stations.
Manager of Operations at their command centretold us “icomply software developed by your company provides a professional standard that we rely on for making critical monitoring seamless. In addition, the software is easy to use and is updated regularly with latest versions. Support is timely.”
Working between two continents doesn’t come without its own challenges. Hugh told us: “It’s a very exciting market to work in. Its important to understand the nuanced structure of the society, and accept the nature of the agile combative commercial environment – which comes as a bit of culture shock initially. You’ve got to have a good professional local team as well.”
As a result icomply has a team of dedicated staff whose base is in Delhi. The team are on hand 24 hours a day to deal with any technical issues that may arise and to answer enquiries that clients may have.
Hugh also told us that one of the challenges that his team had to deal with was to match their software with Indian modules. A prime example of this is a health check tool developed for Honeywell and Hikvision DVR systems. This means that the status of HDD, Cameras, connectivity and recording can all be checked in minutes. This provides for timely maintenance which in turn reduces the risk of system failures.
icomply’s systems already in place have plenty of scope for expansion, should it be called upon. Its open platform integration software means that as new technology comes on line it can be added as security demands change over time. Hugh told us “The great thing about this is it shouldn’t lead to costly changes: far from it, at icomply we can simply add new hardware and software to our existing systems as they become available”.