Guard Services vs. Video Surveillance

While no security measure can claim 100% effectiveness all the time, some are more effective than others, particularly under certain circumstances. For example, security guards and patrols can be effective for indoor security as the movement of a guard is not as easily detected and access control can be implemented to limit points of entry. However, in an outdoor environment, the effectiveness of a guard service can be easily foiled.

Foot or Vehicle Patrol

The most common type of outdoor guard services is in the form of foot or vehicle patrol by a security officer. Unless multiple patrol officers are deployed to a given site, which can be cost prohibitive, a “spotter” can easily identify the movement of a guard and his position communicated to a cohort, who in turn can commit crime without the worry of being detected. Furthermore, a guard cannot be in all places at all times; critical locations, such as property entries, are not closely watched, creating significant security gaps.

Base-Unit Guard

“Live on-site” trailer guards can be 15% to 20% cheaper than foot/vehicle patrol. The cost savings derive from the guard’s time on site being partly sleeping in the trailer and not on active patrol duty. A significant benefit of this approach is that the large trailer offers a good visual deterrence. In theory, this lower cost guard service is appealing; in reality, it is ineffective in many situations. A trailer guard is required to respond only when motion sensors are triggered. Even with a diligent guard who does not sleep through warning signals and false alarms, and with sensors that all work, criminals can easily identify the locations of the motion sensors and bypass them without being detected. Furthermore, the actual performance of the motion sensors falls far short of the claims. Their motion detection range is extremely limited, and they are prone to false alarms from temperature changes to windblown debris and small animals, thus desensitizing the guard on watch. The maximum distance of the sensors to the trailer is also limited, and there are almost never enough sensors to cover the areas needing protection. For sites with significant vehicle or people traffic, the motion sensor approach simply does not work as motions are constantly detected.

Video Surveillance

The most effective electronic surveillance to date is video monitoring. Compared to guard services, the key benefits of video surveillance are dependability and lower costs. When deployed appropriately, it is far more effective than guards. Electronic equipment does not sleep or take short cuts. Within the cameras’ field of view, activities can be recorded and monitored 24 hours a day. In addition, high-grade professional surveillance equipment can see better than human eyes, even in total darkness and at great distance! For example, recording the license plate of a moving vehicle by a guard during the day is a difficult task and doing it at night is close to impossible. On the other hand, high-grade equipment such as Jatagan’s JS-License Plate Capture System can accomplish this task easily day or night, and in challenging weather conditions. Video recordings can also serve as strong evidence for successful prosecutions when necessary. The cost of video surveillance systems, even with multiple units, covering large areas simultaneously at multiple locations, is only a fraction of the cost of guard services.

Description Foot/Vehicle Patrol Base-Unit Guard Video Surveillance
Visual Deterrence Good Excellent Excellent
Detection Avoidance Easy Easy Difficult
Continuous Monitoring Poor Poor Excellent
Dependability Fair Fair Excellent
Effective Monitoring Range Fair Fair Fair (single system), Excellent (multiple systems)
Simultaneous Coverage of Large Area Poor Poor Excellent
Ability to See in Darkness and Poor Weather Fair Fair Good to Excellent (depending on equipment)
Providing Investigative/Court Evidence Good Good Excellent
Approximate Cost $22 to $30/hr $16/hr $1.30/hr to $3.00/hr