George Schaar, Head of Research & Development at Stratis Security, talks to us about his 20 year career in security.
I’ve worked in security for more than 20 years, protecting the homes of celebrities and the rich as well as developing technology to secure homes and housing estates from Ipswich to Ireland.
For the past three years, I’ve been working with our specialist team from our technology innovation base in Suffolk. There really is a melting pot of the latest smart homes and internet of things solutions here, with other companies such as Facebook, Cisco and Nokia also on the same site. My current focus is progressing the development of a secure app which allows clients to monitor camera surveillance in their properties remotely. Clients can also get alarms alerting them on their phones if windows or doors have been broken or tampered with.
Fingerprint and facial recognition
Our solutions include fingerprint identification technology, which is nonintrusive, fast and efficient and can secure large areas over many levels. For example, entrances and exit points to lifts and stairwells, through to individual rooms, cupboards and flats. Stratis has also developed facial recognition for entry systems, with our cameras scanning the iris and matching faces from a prestored database of images. Used in conjunction with video surveillance, we have significantly tightened security and improved accountability at a major residential block in Ipswich, where residents now show their faces at the front entrance to gain entry. I never thought I’d be implementing technology that first inspired me from Blade Runner in the early 80s!
We have also helped combat a range of issues at two blocks of flats in Ipswich, including rats in ground floor bin-stores as a result of fly-tipping, as well as graffiti and non-residents, who would gather outside and in reception areas, gaining access to the blocks and moving freely around the building. In one of the blocks, we installed facial recognition cameras and key fobs, with card access to lifts and stairwells, making it possible to prohibit access as well as track individuals and only allow access to designated areas.
Social housing applications
For social housing providers, our technologies have many applications, such as if a tenant has lost or forgotten their key, or for vulnerable residents in extra-care schemes or sheltered accommodation, allowing their relatives, friends or carers to gain access. We were at the CIH conference in Manchester earlier this year and are now talking with a range of housing providers about how to deploy our solutions as part of their business transformation programmes and their wider smart home and internet of things strategies.
No longer being the exclusive province of science fiction, long-range lasers are an effective and flexible way to monitor and protect your property. Lasers can be set up as an invisible fence around an office, for example, or in areas that are targeted for high-value materials, such as a church roof or to protect copper piping. Any tampering to the laser triggers an alert, which is sent back as a high-quality audio file that can be monitored remotely.
My team and I are currently working towards ISO accreditations. With the impact of the Grenfell tragedy, we have also developed fire safety and reinforced doors. At the time of writing, we are arranging a ‘destruction day’ on September 26 at our base in Martlesham Heath in Suffolk where we have challenged the 4,000 staff at Adastral Park (home also of BT’s innovation centre) and invited them to break through our reinforced doors with sledge hammers, angle grinders and cordless drills. So confident are we of the resilience of our reinforced doors, we have also invited Britain’s strongest man, Eddie Hall, along to pit his strength against our doors.
George Schaar is the head of research and development at Stratis Security