The interview was first published in International Security Journal on August 25, 2022.
Securing outdoor areas is often a costly and complex endeavour for many companies. The lack of internet connection and power makes installing conventional solutions difficult or very expensive. Outdoor spaces are notorious for creating excessive false alarms caused by environmental factors such as vegetation, flapping plastic on construction sites, etc. That places a heavy burden on monitoring station operators, who have to differentiate between the many false alarms and genuine intrusions.
The Reconeyez outdoor surveillance system has been on the market for several years now, promising a solution to the problems mentioned above, and is easy to install in all outdoor areas. Thanks to artificial intelligence and the false alarm assistant, the number of false alarms is close to zero, if not entirely zero. We chatted with Gary Frith, VP of sales Europe at Reconeyez, to find out more about the company, the product, and the challenges in the security sector.
We are actually not that new in the security sector. We’ve been here for over ten years. Reconeyez is the commercial market brand of Defendec, created in 2018. But Defendec dates back to 2009 and is focused on border control and national defense. Not many can say that their devices are used and trusted by the military! The first devices from 2009 used on the European Union-Russian border are still working to this day.
We have learned over the last four years that there was a definite gap in the market for a new player to come into the market and offer a next-generation solution for completely autonomous outdoor security. Our partners have been impressed by our HD quality images, long detection distances of up to 35 metres, and false alarm-busting AI capabilities. Our advanced cloud monitoring and device management capabilities have also set us apart.
On the flip side, our system was developed for the border security market, so we have needed to quickly adapt and add new products and services to complete our commercial offering. On the hardware side, this has included a siren and a soon-to-be-launched keypad. On the cloud side, we needed to integrate with leading alarm management software platforms, and we have developed an arming app to which we will soon be adding push notifications for alarms and other events.
In general, we try not to compete directly with the big fish in the sector by focussing on areas where we can add value in our core outdoor market. Also, in some cases, our system sits alongside conventional CCTV solutions to cover gaps in outdoor area coverage in a cost-effective way.
The sales cycle in the national defense industry is very long and can lead to very bumpy revenues. We also saw that our product had a lot to offer in the commercial sector as well. The problems are more or less the same in both industries: large remote areas need intelligent and reliable systems that are quick and easy to install and maintain and don’t cost a fortune. Why keep a solution to such problems for only one sector?
We sell our products to B2B customers only. Our customers are usually security distributors, installers, or organisations with their own security team and monitoring centers, for example, utility companies. They turn to us if they have either remote areas to protect or temporary locations that need systems that are easy to install and move to other sites.
We have a wide range of use cases that can be broadly broken down into temporary security, permanent protection of remote sites/outdoor assets, and site monitoring.
The best examples of temporary solutions are construction sites, probably our most significant single commercial market. Typically there is no mains power in the early stages of a construction project, and site managers are looking for a simple, no-hassle solution that provides a robust security solution whilst having minimal impact on the construction project itself. Since our system can be set up in a matter of hours and requires no cabling, it ticks many boxes for the site manager, and the long battery life of up to a year ensures that security maintenance visits are kept to a minimum.
Also, by definition, construction sites change over time. That is when the mesh network comes into play, meaning that our detectors can find a different route to communicate with our bridge device via one or more other detectors if obstacles are built between the devices over time. This all happens automatically without any manual intervention.
Other temporary site examples include vacant properties/sites for which there is often no mains power, and as a rapid response solution for guarding companies or the police. This fits in with how the system has traditionally been moved around borders to cover different people moving or crime hotspots.
More permanent solutions include all kinds of applications to protect remote outdoor assets. The list includes renewable energies such as solar parks, remote utility and industrial infrastructure, outdoor storage areas/compounds, agriculture, and all kinds of site perimeters.
Some partners also use Reconeyez for monitoring purposes. A couple of different examples of this are illegal waste dumping and environmental monitoring. Illegal waste dumping appears to be a problem across Europe. Reconeyez is being used by the police, towns and local authorities to monitor areas where waste is often illegally dumped. Because the images are stored in the cloud, it is possible to go back to when the waste was deposited and identify the perpetrator.
Environmental monitoring makes use of the feature of the detectors to take images at regular intervals and send them back to the cloud, e.g., once a day, once an hour, etc. Operators can then remotely monitor things like water levels across hundreds of sites from one central location. The photo capture feature will soon be adapted to allow timelapse videos to be taken by the detectors at construction sites and other suitable locations.
In general terms, security companies across Europe are facing the same problems. End customers generally don’t wake up in the morning deciding that they really want to buy a security system, so outdoor security tends to be a grudge purchase. Supplying cost-effective solutions, therefore, becomes critical. Reconeyez ticks a lot of boxes on cost. The system is very quick and easy to install, and there is no need for expensive cabling. Maintenance costs are also kept to a minimum by our long battery life, and installers can optimise site visits using our cloud service dashboard. Many of our installers also provide their end users with limited access to the cloud so that they can see the alarm history and images and become more engaged with their security system.
One of the biggest challenges the security industry has faced in recent years has been the worldwide shortage of electronic components. As a relatively small manufacturer, we have the advantage of flexibility, and our in-house team can redesign parts and bring on new suppliers at relatively short notice. Still, the components shortage has undoubtedly extended the lead times for new products.
The last few years have also seen much broader adoption of cloud technologies and the adoption of Artificial Intelligence in many applications across the security industry. These are certainly areas we will strongly continue to develop across our chosen markets in the future.
Environmental considerations are clearly also at the forefront of people’s minds across all industries. We are trying to play our part by only supplying rechargeable batteries that can be used repeatedly.
One of the most rewarding aspects of working with Reconeyez is that our customers constantly come up with new applications for the system. In France, for example, we have an installer using Reconeyez to protect expensive forestry machines that move around during the day and are then highly vulnerable to theft, including fuel theft, and vandalism when parked up in the middle of the forest at night. Another installer has a similar application but protects barges when moored up at night in remote locations.
But of course, the most rewarding part of the job is when our partners provide us with examples of intruders being caught in the act with Reconeyez and being arrested by the police.
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