Today’s article is a collaboration between Safeguard Systems and Ant Hebblethwaite of DSOC, a security monitoring business based in Yorkshire. Ant is a friend and colleague of the business and shares a similar passion for protecting sites against the impact of crime.
If you’d like to indulge yourself in an entertaining read covering Ant’s early career, all the way through to his experience in the self-storage industry, and his thoughts on AI and the future of the security industry, read on!
Hi Ant, let’s kick things off with a look at your early career – how did you dive into the security world, and what has your career been like so far?
Hi there. I started out at a small CCTV installation business in 2007 when I was 18 years old. I loved the variety – different sites, systems, and lots of travelling.
From starting out as a trainee, I progressed to being a fully-fledged security engineer and found I was particularly comfortable dealing with customers. This likely set the tone for my later progressions into sales and management.
From 2009 to 2018 we went through two mergers and buyouts. The small business I started out with was bought by a national security guarding company with its own internal control room. We were later bought out by an even bigger outfit.
That sounds like an exciting experience for a young man, what happened next?
After 11 years, two mergers and being the only remaining original employee, I was craving for more. This is when, in 2018 I actively sought a new challenge. I initially found that challenge as a Technical Account Manager and have since found the perfect role at DSOC as Sales Manager.
I have now been in Sales for five years in total.
I still love my job for the exact same reasons as back in 2007. It’s all about variety, being challenged and producing solutions.
From trainee to senior manager – got it. Now, tell us, how did the world of CCTV monitoring come knocking on your door?
My early career required me to travel a lot. I loved it, right up until we had our first baby in it 2010. I was only 21 years old and ultimately, I needed to provide for my family whilst trying to be there in person more often.
I focused on remote engineering where possible and I learned so much about how to design and install systems that could be accessed remotely. This early exposure to remote systems meant I’d built an early interest in CCTV monitoring without quite realising it.
And that’s how I landed in the world of monitored systems. It allowed me to be the security expert clients needed, whilst giving me the flexibility to be there for my loved ones.
Over your career, you’ve undoubtedly observed the rapid evolution of the security industry over the past decade. Could you share your insights?
I’d push it out a little further.
The changes I’ve noticed are over a sixteen-year span, to be honest. Analogue systems were still the norm when I started out. CCTV was still very much ‘Closed Circuit’. Nowadays, it’s all network video and fully digitised. We can do so much more with digital and networked systems, especially remotely.
Whilst moving forward with tech is brilliant and vital, it does bring with it its own challenges. Most of our industry, particularly the old guard, are certainly not network or IT experts. And, to a large degree, haven’t been trained to be experts in these fields.
Effectively, there is a big skills gap in our industry right now. Old school analogue, closed protocol mindsets still exist and the sooner we embrace the pace we’ve moved at, the better.
Plenty of changes then… What about monitoring and tech?
Right now, most surveillance equipment has monitoring in mind. Video technology has changed a lot. Less bandwidth is required to transmit data, so image quality has massively improved which of course helps with crime prevention.
Furthermore, ANPR, audio challenge, and video analytics have really helped to provide a range of solutions to improve detection and deterrence, across the industry.
On the topic of video analytics – this has been a game changer in reducing false alarms.
Ok, so fast forward a little. Now, you’re in the self-storage world. How did that happen?
To be honest it’s just such a perfect fit. We already have contacts in the sector, and we know we offer an incredible security and customer service solution that meets the needs of these businesses.
Self-storage is all about offering a budget-friendly alternative to the consumer, and our CCTV monitoring solutions help save these businesses money against the cost of employing security guards.
That meant there was a very easy conversation to have with prospective customers in this sector.
Self storage companies help their customers by offering a convenient, low cost solution that helps keep their belongings safe and secure.
Our services align with this approach, as we provide a cost effective solution to protect their customer’s belongings against a range of threats.
It’s the perfect partnership.
Self-storage expert, then Ant? What security threats do these sites face?
The usual suspects in the security industry – OCGs (organised crime groups/gangs), the random troublemakers who can’t resist chancing their luck, and let’s not forget the classic acts of stupid vandalism.
These businesses are very brand-conscious.
Therefore, putting proper security measures in place to protect these businesses and their customer’s belongings is key to their operational objectives.
Organized crime, tell me more…. This all feels very Line of Duty!
Oh yeah, we’re talking about the real deal here. These guys don’t mess around. They scope out places, sometimes even send in the newbies to check out the lay of the land.
They’re professionals, so it’s a bit of a game of cat and mouse. However, with technology rapidly changing we are confident of limiting the potential for serious crime.
So, if a site gets hit, what’s the fallout?
A successful hit on a self-storage site can spell major trouble for the business. Reputation takes a nosedive, insurance payouts go through the roof, and property damage is another operational nightmare.
It’s like a nightmare scenario for everyone involved. That’s why we’re getting creative with our monitoring solutions.
Speaking of the future, how will AI change the security industry?
AI’s already slipped into the industry, and it’s causing quite the ripple effect. Video analytics massively reducing false alarms is an example I can’t help but use again.
Oh, and facial recognition – that’s really starting to make waves in the retail sector.
Ok, so in a decade, what will the security industry look like?
While I’m pretty sure we won’t be living in a dystopian future like Judge Dredd, I wouldn’t be shocked to see some robots making an appearance. Think robots on patrol duty and maybe even autonomous drone squads being deployed to protect sites and assets.
We’ve known how criminals use drones to target businesses for a while, so maybe the boot will be on the other foot in the future.
Ant, it’s been great chatting with you – thanks for the insider insights!
The pleasure’s been all mine.
Looking to connect with an experienced security professional?
You can connect with Ant on LinkedIn.