Nigeria’s security problem needs intelligent security solutions
More Nigerians seem to be concerned with the poor security situation in Nigeria and most of them in the ICT sector are beginning to invest in security appliances that can help arrest the situation.
Perhaps it was the same spirit that led a Nigerian businessman and Managing Director of Bikal digital surveillance company Mr. Lawrence Umoren to partner a British company on the best of surveillance technology that can solve problems in Nigeria
In this interview he opens up on his interest to see a secured Nigeria
How did you develop interest in surveillance equipments. It could’nt just have been for the pockets of security breaches in the country recently?.
Well, not exactly. Interestingly, I used to work for Bikal London as the Head of International Operations before I came back to Nigeria. So I decided to set up Bikal Nigeria as my own contribution to bringing home innovative technologies that are experienced in most advanced countries.
But there is also an economic end of it?
Ofcourse. There are very great opportunities in the Nigerian market There is a security problem within Nigeria and now we have the technology. Remember that If you have to solve security problem, you have to go technological because you have to use the present technology in solving problem. The problem Nigeria has is that we are relying on old method to solve sophisticated security problems.
So where does Bikal strength lie, CCTV or software?
We do both the CCTV and the software but we are best on facilities and software packages that give intelligence to camera. Yes, we manufacture camera, yes, we have company that manufactures camera but what stands us out is the ability to give intelligence to camera so that the cameras do things that we ask it to do.
For instance, our software package is able to identify crowd. If a crowd is going to build up here, a vehicle jumps traffic light, it notifies that a situation that is not normal was happening.
I can see the surveillance manipulation on your mobile phone, how does that work?
That is our IT surveillance package which enables you monitor your home, office from anywhere in the world through your mobile phone or laptop. But for this to work, you must have an Internet facility in that environment. Once you have an Internet facility, we come in and deploy the software.
This type of package is for homes or small businesses, although we also have packages for bigger organisations.
The problem is that most of these packages for small businesses are still priced beyond reach. How affordable is the product?
Our vision is that because security cut across and the problems created by a sudden breach can affect just anybody, we want our product to be as affordable as can be. We want every Okada man to be empowered, to be able to solve his security problem. We just have to solve the problem of people down here, much as we would do for people up there.
The people at the upper strata encounter more security problems really but we still have them seriously in mind and not just because of the vision but also in terms of cost effectiveness. We are sure they can afford it.
Your setting Bikal Nigeria, is on franchise I guess, how do you want to solidify the Nigerian operation?
We are affiliated to Bikal London and a lot of their equipment have landed which we want to test run in Nigeria because when I first came in here, I said to my colleagues in London that the security problem in Nigeria environment is different. Our night vision camera in London where there is light, may not give the same result in Nigeria where thick darkness is the order of the day So we need software that can be infrared and should be thicker, to be able to penetrate these kind of environment.
Bikal has branches all over but Nigeria’s problem needs gathering experts from across the world. So we organising a lager group and I am sure when we put our heads together, there would be result.
Where are your group coming from. Would it not amount to giving Nigeria out to outsiders if we sell some of our problems in search of solution?
No! no! no! The bottom line is finding relevant solutions and software packages that can solve Nigeria’ security problems. We are not discussing the country but security issues that have been happening and the matching technologies that can nip them in the bud.
For instance, Gary is coming in from London; Boban is coming in from India with a view to take a look at the problem. We do have a package but the package has to be tailored towards Nigerian situation or else we are going to have problem. Take for instance, in London, there is constant power supply but here, you don’t have constant power supply.
You think solar or you have to think rechargeable battery. So, a peculiar situation needs a direction that the security situation is going to take. The main package is already there but it has to be streamlined to suit the local environment, which is what we are trying to do in terms of both the kind of cameras and the software to go with them.
The security agencies are supposed to be either your first target in this kind of project or your fist partners?
Yes, but not not like they are the first targets.
What we do with them is that we are presenting this technology and probably let them know how to extract information from this technology and all that. If there is a crime around this area, for instance, the police, should be able to pick images. Instead of passing through a complex process to have access to that information, they should just be able to say, this is what the footage from my camera says and that can be a weighty evidence.
How much have you invested or investing to see all these your dreams through?
You can see that it is ongoing. We have not sat down to calculate but what we are really looking at is that our investments yields dividends when there is a reduction in crime, when people are conscious of what they do or do not because they can get caught by the camera.
At that point we can say ok, we invested on this thing and it is yielding dividends. Right now, we not actually looking at the monetary terms but we are looking at it from the perspective of the end product, what it has been able to yield in dividends….
…And perhaps your reward would be in heaven?
No. that’s not what I mean. There is something positive about Nigerian society, if you have a product that solves problem, that is efficient, Nigerians would buy into it and since security is one area where we acknowledge that there is a problem, Nigerians would buy into it. That would also mean more money for Bikal, even though we are solving a big problem.
Nigeria’s security problem, who is to blame, govt or dearth of relevantsecurity equipments?
This is actually a tough one. But let me say that the problem we had was that our security system was heavily manual. There are a lot of trained personnel but most of them are very poorly equipped. Living in a technological era and still talking about manual security does not leapfrog any society.
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