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  • Frank Raczon

AI Broadens Effectiveness of Theft Prevention

Camera system learns, transmits, and responds to threats

The use of AI is growing in many industries despite media- and Internet-fueled panic that it is going to "take over" or eliminate human jobs. Despite the mixed publicity, there are already a myriad of practical uses--including theft prevention.

"AI needs to be captive to applications and controlled by people with boundaries on it, so it can solve problems," says Greg Ayres, VP of marketing and business development for iDter, a company that blends AI with live camera feeds for automated detection and what it calls immediate deterrence.

The iDter Nio Guardian system sees threats, decides the threat level, and can mete out responses. "Our use [of AI] is very structured and contained," Ayres says. "We use it to solve a problem. People can't access our AI and do something else with it."

Equipment theft, along with vandalism, stolen parts--and even stolen fuel--are on the rise, and the stakes are higher in the current business environment, with high prices, and equipment availability and supply chain issues. Assets are more valuable than ever.

"Construction sites face the ever-present risk of stolen equipment and tools, building supplies, and commodity materials like copper wiring, and also loitering and vandalism," Ayres says. "Even if the equipment and materials are secured inside a building, there is still a risk of forced entry. Without proper site surveillance, monetary losses can be considerable and likely be compounded by unnecessary delays to the project.

"The largest areas of growth for our system are the protection of open-air equipment; truck, tractor and auto dealerships; construction sites; and vehicle repair facilities," Ayres says.

Indeed, the National Equipment Register reports in its annual 4th of July Heavy Equipment Theft Trends that dealerships, work sites, and storage areas are the top three targeted locations for thieves. The favorite equipment categories are utility vehicles, mowers, and skid steers. The top three desired brands are Kubota, John Deere, and Caterpillar.

"Most of our business is longer-term worksites and dealerships," says Nick Luciano of Per Mar Security, in Urbandale, Iowa, an iDter dealer. "While we also provide human on-site security for our clients, the technology option has proven cost effective and efficient. There's a lot of interest."

Ayres says Per Mar considers the system another security guard. "They're renting these to construction sites as a security guard. This is a replacement for security guards because it's more effective. These things never go to sleep."

The iDter system can be installed around sites by placing Nio guardian nodes on poles and near building entrances in place of flood lights. The Nio nodes provide not only LED flood lighting for the construction site, but also intrusion detection with recordable video camera surveillance, motion detection, and AI to filter out false alarms. The immediate intrusion deterrence features automated voice-down messages, strobing red/blue lights, and piercing sirens. Yes, the system can talk at an intruder, with different messages and warnings that law enforcement is on the way.

AI directs immediate response to theft situations

"It takes immediate and intelligent deterrence actions, in less than one second, to foil intrusion and loitering," Ayres says. "Our ability to take immediate deterrence actions has proven to thwart 98 percent of crime without the unavoidable delays from human intervention that other security solutions depend upon. The remaining cases are resolved through optional intervention by central station personnel, who can take control of the deterrence capability of the Nio nodes while they dispatch the authorities."

Ayres says this differs from conventional live video monitoring solutions, sometimes called virtual guards, that are both expensive and have inherent delay times between detection of an intrusion and the execution of deterrence reactions. "Time matters," he says.

The company began in the residential market. It built cameras, with speakers, in 120-volt porch lights.

“You could pick different voice messages,” Ayres says. “They came up with a simple way to do detection and deterrence, and allow you to schedule how it behaved. Late at night, it could be different than during the day, where it just records and you can program it. Then, people were taking our floodlights and using them in commercial applications at auto dealerships.

"We didn't have enterprise software on the residential side," Ayres says. "So, when people put 12, 15, or 20 floodlights out there trying to get our cameras to work on one app on your phone, it broke the system. That's when we started developing this product, about four years ago, and developed it specifically for the commercial markets, making it more bulletproof, taking the amplitude of the deterrence way up, and improving the camera technology."

This article appeared online in Construction Equipment

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