By Tim Kalinowski, Staff Writer
Farmers often live in isolated areas with few neighbours in close proximity. The average size of farms has also increased dramatically the past 30 years; so different quarters may be quite a long ways from each other, making it impossible for a farmer to keep an eye on all his property at one time. Or is it?
Nick Nicolacopoulos, owner and president of Guardian Security Solutions Inc. based in Lethbridge, says advances in video surveillance systems, sensor technology and digital monitoring applications have changed the “impossible” to the commonplace on many farms these days.
“With our surveillance technology they can download an app on their cell phones and basically login and look at those cameras from anywhere in the world,” explains Nicolacopoulos. “A lot of times we can even do remote services that allow them to lock and unlock doors or arm or disarm systems… We have products that can work remotely, can work without power, can work without telephone communications, and that are completely self-contained.
“And then we have camera systems where we can shoot ten miles from down the road and get you a signal and connectivity so you can view it all on your phone.”
Nicolacopoulos says his company does many farm installations these days. The concerns among farmers are mostly the same: Wanting greater security from theft and vandalism.
“With our bigger commercial customers, they are looking for vandalism on their grain bins; so surveillance to guard against trespassing, vandalism and all those types of things.
“Typically our smaller operations customers are more interested in watching livestock. We also have quite a few of the ranchers who put cameras out in barns where the cows are birthing so they can watch what is going on without having to be out there. It gives them an opportunity to manage their business remotely.
“We just did an installation south of Taber where we put up six cameras that have Linux processors embedded into them,” continues Nicolacopoulos. “These cameras actually think for themselves, so when something approaches they know whether it’s normal or abnormal. If they think something is happening which is abnormal, they will trigger and alarm, and the farmer will get a message on their phone and video with it.”
Nicolacopoulos says there are a variety of systems farmers can buy in the market these days, some cost less and some cost more. It is up to each operation to decide what fits within their budget and needs. He gives an example to explain this point.
“We did an installation one time at a feedlot where I asked the guy why he wanted a system installed. He told me he figured between loading and unloading all the trucks they did about 60 or 70 head were lost a year. He said it was easy for one here and there to slip by you.
“I said with a camera system that problem would be solved because you can go back and review how many you loaded, and which corrals they came from. He said: ‘That’ll work.’
“When you are talking about 60 or 70 head a year that’s a lot of money to lose. Whereas if you installed a system that costs $10,000 or $15,000, it would save you all that money, and it would save you it year after year after year.”
Nicolacopoulos says the advances he has seen in security technology the past decade have been remarkable, and farmers have been some of the first ones to embrace it wholeheartedly.
“There are all these products now which can be controlled remotely, and that’s not new to the farming industry… You guys are ahead of the curve in the ag. business. For the farmers it’s all about efficiency. It’s all about doing things with a stroke of a button rather than having to run across the field to do it.
“The technology and efficiency of the farm business has always been remarkable, but what has happened over the last ten years is almost mind-boggling when you see how these guys are managing their businesses with the latest technology. Nowadays, they are not wasting an inch of ground.”
For more information on products available from Guardian Security Solutions Inc. visit their website at www.guardiansecurity.ca.