Kenya: businesses and individuals yet to invest in security

Kenyan businesses and investors have been hesitant in procuring solutions to insecurity, in spite of the increasing prevalence of affordable prevention software.

Security threats in Kenya range from terrorism to muggings, house breakings, carjacking, kidnappings and recently, cybercrime. The frequency of their occurrence as well as the low prosecution rate of offenders is an indicator of how much people have invested in ensuring they remain secure.

A case in point is the increase in cases of kidnappings in the country, that pushed the government through the Ministry of Information and Communication to switch off unregistered SIM cards and counterfeit phones.

According to Roman Cezary, technical manager at the Radar security company, security companies in Kenya have the necessary technology to track kidnapped persons as well as their cars through geo-positioning systems (GPS).

“With the right kind of equipment in your car, we can be able to monitor everything from car speed, fuel consumption, location and even receive a video feed from your stolen car almost making it impossible for the criminals to slip away from our nets,” he said.

Car tracking systems are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to security systems, he says, adding that this is because his company can install data protection and encryption systems for banks and other financial systems to stop the card scheming that has led to the loss of billions of shillings annually in Kenya.

According to Cezary, not a single bank has installed the system, which costs about KSh135,000 (approx US$1,546) per ATM machine and would have the machines encrypted with the advanced AES 256 protocol on top of CCTV cameras for more advanced security.

The slow adoption rates are despite numerous reports indicating that fraud is on the increase in the region, with Kenya among Africa’s “notorious four countries” according to a recent KPMG report.

The security expert, who has worked with global multinationals such as Citibank, said not even the existing CCTV equipments in various banking halls in the country meet the professional CCTV threshold, with half of those installed not working.

“It would be almost impossible to arrest a person using the images of the installed CCTV cameras in Kenya some of which cost as low as £200 with banks sacrificing quality for price,” he said.

On top of the low-quality equipment, he adds that just a small percentage of the CCTV systems are encrypted, working as a gateway for criminals targeting financial institutions.

In addition, only a small percentage of homes have an alarm trigger, most of them in uptown residential neighborhoods.

With advancement in technology, Cezary says homeowners can invest in systems they can control from the comforts of their smartphones and tablets.

“Now from your phone you can first receive a video feed to monitor your house even when you’re away, you can switch off your a/c, television, home theatre just name it.”

The security expert laments that institutions and individuals have sacrificed security and quality of services to pricing, despite the numerous benefits that come with it.

Cezary added that by proper investments in ICT buildings could eliminate or reduce the use or guards. He foresees a change in the duties of guards from simply monitoring the doors of buildings to becoming CCTV operators and control room specialists where they can monitor several buildings from a single location.

He emphasised the importance of proper adoption of ICT in businesses, noting that the security company has even expanded its departments to include one that is now in charge of the health information system currently being deployed in hospitals across Nairobi.

The system, which uses biometrics as well as a card system, ensures that a patient’s information is accessible from anywhere and is already in use in a number of city hospitals including Karen and Nairobi hospitals, with Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) said to be working on getting connected.

For now, it remains to be seen how businesses and organisations will continue to embrace technology to bolster security and information management.

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