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Keeping an eye on the farm

Technology has become integral to how farms are operated today, and is helping farmers implement effective monitoring and security measures.

Johannesburg, 27 Aug 2019
Read time 3min 30sec
Mark Taylor, CEO, Nashua
Mark Taylor, CEO, Nashua

According to a government land audit based on deeds office data released in February 2018, SA has 419 005 farms, with 32 000 commercial farmers. Much as in any other business today, technology such as AI and IOT is being used to protect people, property and assets.

When you think about implementing security measures on a farm, you don’t always realise that it goes beyond just defending the perimeter. You also need to ensure that the right people are accessing the right areas from an occupational health and safety perspective. For example, if part of your farming operation processes food, then only persons trained and certified to do so, should be allowed access to those areas.

Cameras and sensors can be used to provide surveillance, biometrics are used to control access and everything is monitored, either on site or remotely. Mark Taylor, CEO of Nashua, says: “Ensuring that the right people are accessing the right area is essential; and bearing in mind that farm workers work with their hands, so their fingerprints might be damaged or worn away completely, facial and iris biometrics are being implemented to control access.”

The benefits of using technology for safety and security include 24/7 remote monitoring; the ability to monitor and control entry and exit into specific areas; and even, if required, automatic number plate recognition for vehicles entering the premises to deliver or collect stock. If you operate vehicles, then you can also monitor your vehicles, drivers and cargo, including live camera views and GPS.

Taylor says: “Farming is no longer just about producing goods for market. It has become a business and with margins as tight as they are, farmers are having to become more aware of issues that could affect their bottom line.”

How do you know who has reported for work, or how many people need to be evacuated from a specific area should an emergency occur? Should stock go missing, do you know who accessed that area most recently? If there’s an accident and someone is injured, was that person meant to be in that hazardous environment? If a delivery is late arriving at a customer, do you know why?

Security technology is used for both prevention and protection. Taylor says: “In today’s modern world, protection of people and assets has become more important than ever. With breaches and crime initiated by human elements, farmers need to create boundaries that anticipate and proactively provide alerts for absolute prevention and protection.”

Real-time technology solutions combine intelligence and human ingenuity to create a comprehensive surveillance platform that prevents, protects and provides users with the right data, at any given time. This requires a combination of technologies.

Firstly, perimeter monitoring is key to ensure that you are protected. It's also essential to keep undesired elements off your property and prevent breaches before they happen. Then the monitoring of entrance and exit points and other areas of interest is essential. Alerts must be real-time and communicated immediately to the appropriate individuals.

A hi-tech integrated system of hardware, video management software, the Internet and a state-of-the-art control room monitoring centre work together to detect, assess and alert you of any incidents. Cameras with built-in analytics are able to send alarms to the control room and/or a mobile app on the user’s mobile device. All triggers are assessed and responses and alerts activated immediately. This can include calling a security company or local law enforcement, or notifying the user directly of the event.

Taylor concludes: “It is any business owner’s responsibility to protect their business, its employees and their assets against anything that could cause business vulnerability, and the same applies to a farm environment.”

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