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Security – opportunities for contractors?

May 2012 Security Systems | Comments Off on Security – opportunities for contractors?
Security – opportunities for contractors?

The UK security sector is – per capita – one of the biggest in the world. What are the opportunities for electrical contractors? James Hunt takes a brief look.

Security in the UK is big business, worth an estimated £7bn in 2005, and the sector is still growing. It therefore represents significant opportunities for electrical contractors and installers, even though many of the more sophisticated security systems are specialist-installed.

Security systems are designed to protect homes, businesses and people from theft and attack, while others provide security information for various purposes, such as court action.

Devices and systems encompass intruder sensing and alarms, access controls, video entry systems, locks and door/window contacts, CCTV, multiplexers, monitors, recognition systems, panic attack buttons, gates/barriers and much more besides.

Intruder sensing – These keep the wrong people out and include passive infrared (PIR) intruder sensors, which may be combined with microwave sensors. The PIR detects an intruder’s body heat, sounding an alarm. Modern devices continuously assess intruder’s movements, with monitored alarms being typically connected via telephone to an alarm-receiving centre (ARC). If an alarm is triggered, it alerts the ARC, which contacts emergency services. PIRs can be easily fitted by electrical installers, although the right number of detectors and their proper placement is crucial.

Access – Unlike intruder sensing, access systems allow the right people in. Today, most commercial buildings and blocks of flats are fitted with access control. Mechanical locks still do most of the work, and there are push/pull solenoid lock cases for a range of doors, but more sophisticated systems are now common. These include door entry products, smartcards, attendance software and also access systems linked to full intelligent building management systems (BMS). Systems can guard anything from a few doors to computer control of large, complex multi-site premises.

Modern attractively priced door entry systems make it easy to take precautions, and they can be stand alone or fully integrated with access control, CCTV and automated gates. Other types range from sophisticated biometric readers and simple vandal resistant readers (video, audio, or simple keypad entry, ID/smart cards and Radio Frequency Identification – RFID) to locks. In more complex premises, systems can be linked into full BMS to allow for greater control and future expansion.

Today, installation is becoming simple as, increasingly, wireless systems are being deployed.

Recognition – These systems show that people are who they say they are, so allowing them entry to premises. They include video/voiced door entry, as well as biometrics (fingerprinting, iris/face/voice recognition and others). Right now, biometric systems are generally limited to specialist installers, but electrical contractors can easily install many video/voiced door entry systems.

CCTV – Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras deter, observe and identify. CCTV is often used for surveillance in airports, banks, military installations and convenience stores. CCTV security camera systems range from low-cost start-up standalone types to multi-camera multi-site systems. Fully integrated Internet Protocol (IP) network systems enable greater security to be achieved with greater versatility, yet often at a lower total cost of ownership.

In selecting a CCTV camera, it is important to be sure what the image is to show. If a person needs to be identified, especially as evidence in court, great care must be taken in camera and installation. For critical use, high-resolution full-colour images are essential.

There are significant business opportunities here for enterprising electrical installers.

Security lighting – Automatic security lighting can be very effective in deterring intruders when specified and used correctly. Such products have become more affordable and easier to install, opening up a new market for enterprising electrical installers who can now offer attractive solutions to small businesses and homeowners.

Having chosen the right security lighting, ensure that coverage is adequate – what is the PIR sensor’s field? Make sure that it is adjustable so that the light will not be triggered by passers-by (or by daylight). For more extensive premises, slave lights and sensors may be required.