Bringing reliable, affordable, high-speed fibre connectivity to a community involves more than offering fast download speeds and the ability to easily browse the internet. Instead, it signifies opportunities for upliftment, safety, and security that have become critical in these uncertain times.
The availability of fibre in a neighbourhood results in service providers delivering more innovative solutions that depend on high-speed connectivity at better and affordable rates. The healthy competition between service providers sees home users having access to a range of packages to fit the needs of various speeds and at price points. This delivers significant advantages over the outdated DSL technology from only a single service provider.
“Virtually any service can be provisioned over a fibre network. For example, its high bandwidth and low latency capabilities that can be deployed within a required coverage area makes it the ideal technology for real-time applications, such as interactive voice, video, and data services. Real-time video monitoring with digital security cameras has radically enhanced the safety of a neighbourhood,” says Enzio von Diest, head of IT at Frogfoot.
Transforming community protection
A CCTV security camera system is one of the key elements in an effective community protection and crime prevention strategy. Such a system can only operate effectively on a fibre network because of the speed of the network offering real-time video monitoring. The visibility of video monitoring can act as a deterrent for some criminals while it can be an effective solution to identify perpetrators if an incident does occur.
A study examining the results of a CCTV pilot project in Benoni has found that crime declined in the areas where there was good camera coverage and increased in those areas where there was poor or no coverage. Furthermore, international research shows that crime decreased by approximately 13% in CCTV areas compared with the control areas of the study.
“Traditionally, security companies relied on wireless and DSL offerings when it comes to community protection solutions such as CCTV. However, because the underlying infrastructure that carries video data is based on open spectrum wireless services or contended in nature, CCTV coverage comes down to best effort. This means network stability is unreliable and the quality of the video feed, a critical component to identifying faces, is not what it should be,” says von Diest.
For its part, fibre removes environmental variables such as humidity, lack of aerial line of sight, and attenuation on copper cables, amongst others, as well as more malicious or unpredictable elements such as vandalism to wireless sites. And because of the higher bandwidth and consistency of the fibre network, it allows for radically improved video quality, the key to providing effective surveillance.
Security in practice
Three years ago, Frogfoot partnered with the Constantia Valley Watch association and the Jonkershoek SRA communities to provide fibre backbones as the underlying technology platform for enabling digital security camera streaming in real-time to central servers for archiving and real-time monitoring.
“The Jonkershoek SRA project has gone extremely well, and we are utilising the fibre to its full potential,” says Helmi Dreijer from the JSRA community project. The fibre network enabled an effective system and without such a network it would be almost impossible to ensure reliability. The only challenges remaining are to ensure a stable power network.
“For remote access we utilise a Vox/Frogfoot Internet access gateway to the Jonkershoek SRA private fibre network We have a 200Mbps gateway and multiple users can access the Video Management System remotely. With support of Stellenbosch University, we have 24/7 monitoring of the adjacent areas to the campus, providing a safe environment to the advantage of students and the community. When suspicious activities are identified via the cameras, the information is passed on to the patrol cars in the area. This ensures an instant and reliable response based on real-time information.”
Currently, the JSRA has 85 cameras in the area which are monitored through computers. The community has also implemented license plate recognition, logging traffic coming into Stellenbosch and into the area.
“Most homes are now connected to fibre and they are enjoying the high speed and reliable connectivity that they did not have access to previously. The deployment of the cameras on the fibre network was only possible if there was a business case for the community to use the same network for their private internet needs. This duality in need helped us achieve our goals. As a community, we would recommend fibre, not just for the home but also for providing added security in a neighbourhood,” says Dreijer.
Since implementing the technology, crime in the area decreased by 25% over the three year period. Incidents of breaking into vehicles have disappeared while actual vehicle thefts have also seen a decline.
The road ahead
Of course, the application of security solutions in neighbourhoods using fibre is not limited to only CCTV.
“Fibre technology and its application are continuously evolving. The existing network can be further utilised for the requirements of security organisations. For example, data storage can be backed up off-site, communication can be offered wirelessly and wired for redundancy, access control systems may be linked more securely with encryption, and so on. Fibre removes the conventional barriers of connectivity as we know it. And with easy equipment upgrades, it is a future proof connectivity medium that has unlimited capacity,” concludes von Diest.