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Securitech: Addressing security issues on food production with cooperative practices and tech

Securitech: Addressing security issues on food production with cooperative practices and tech
December 07
10:56 2021

My earlier article on, “AgriTech: The future of food production”, generated a couple of traction and one feedback that came out strong was, “How can we use tech to address security challenges facing food production?”. This and other corollaries, brought about the need for further research into how other climes have overcome similar challenges and what technologies are available that could be ported to address some of these issues.

In this article, we will look at some businesses in the securitech space and processes that have worked while considering how others could be adapted. The underlying question will therefore be: “How can farms be protected with tech to ensure good yield and all-year production?”. We tried to explore some goodness in a few security companies like G4S, ADT and Securitas, while trying to examine challenges back at home. A good number of these security companies have mastered their art in the five core business areas (i.e. Funding, Legal, Accounting, Marketing and Execution aka FLAMETM) What if we did security very differently in Africa? What if securitech became more readily available with Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics driving at its core?

G4S (www.g4s.com – raised a total of $541m in funding over 1 round. This was a Post-IPO Equity round done on 28 August 2013). They are an international security solutions group, focused on business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors where security and safety risks are considered a strategic threat. G4S plc is said to be the largest security company in the world by revenue at USD 9.76 billion generated last year. They are a British multinational security services company headquartered in London, England. The company offers a free, online risk assessment tool that serves as the first step in their process of helping organizations understand their security risks in order to effectively develop customized mitigation solutions. The assessment collects basic information, then proceeds to assess People, Property, Information, Reputation and External Value (focused on environmental and social impact); and weighted based on importance, cost to organization, occurrence and who is responsible. All these dovetail into a 4-page report sheet with recommendations to ensure qualitative protection programs in place, such as: provision of training to personnel and recruitment; deploying security video capture; implementation of alarms or detection systems; improving security awareness within the organization, ensuring proper visitors management, and exploring access control measures among others. G4S aims to develop a network of informed security professionals that challenge traditional thinking, are flexible to embrace change and predicts future demand by combining tested knowledge and expertise to create new realities. A lot can be gleaned from the above described processes to make our farms more secure for staffers and products.

Securitas (www.securitas.com – which did her IPO on 28 June 2002, has acquired 117 organizations. Their most recent acquisition was Supreme Security Systems on 2 December, 2021 for $20m) is said to be in the second position on the list of top 10 largest security companies in the world, with their revenues of USD 9.23 billion generated last fiscal year. The company is a security service, monitoring, consulting and investigation group, based in Stockholm, Sweden. They have over 300,000 employees in 53 countries worldwide; and control over 19 percent of the market share in the European guarding and mobile security market. Imagine what a well structured and aggressive magnate like Securitas will do if it were located in or birth out of Africa. So much is possible when vision, passion and economics mix with requisite business know-how. With their over 80 years of protecting the things that matter, Securitas has seen more than most. It informs why Securitas remains the partner of choice for companies around the world. Ponder further on how honored and proud a company of such magnitude will be that one of their expressions, Securitas Security Services North America, was the only company in the industry that made the Forbes 2021 “Top 500 Diverse Companies list”, a truly impressive feat. It remains so adorable when entrepreneurs demonstrate know-how even in turbulent waters, especially when rather than complain, they create corresponding solutions and narratives to tackle imminent challenges. The herdsmen crisis and kidnapping have traceable root causes and more importantly sustainable solutions, if only we all choose to build for the long term. So much that Nigerians entrepreneurs and leadership can learn from a Securitas that has been around in the security space for over 80 years and waxing stronger by each passing day. Who will bell this security cat? – Startups wanted.

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ADT Security (www.adt.com – has raised a total of $454m in over 3 funding rounds. Their latest funding was raised on 3 August 2020 from a Post-IPO equity round) is a security company that provides smart home solutions and security services. Said to be the largest security company in the USA with revenues of USD  5.13 billion generated in the last fiscal year. They provide residential, small, and large business electronic security, fire protection, and some alarm monitoring services in the United States. They pride themselves as the 4-years-in-a-row leader in smart home security. Could there be smart-farm monitoring solutions tailored with specific farm realities in mind? Is there a market for such products and services in Nigeria and Africa by extension?

Furthermore, we will consider some technologies that can improve farm productivity and security for startups. These include:

Cloud Computing with clickable emergency alert systems on Apps for Farm Management

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An application in the cloud, accessible through Apps, that helps farmers to better manage crops and their business through a software-as-a-service (Saas). Start-up farms can develop business applications (or simply subscribe to existing ones) that are specifically helpful to what they do. Some of these applications allow farmers to create budgets and operational schedules as per production plans, while others connect with available security emergencies and loved ones remotely with a simple panic click.

Big Data, Analytics, and Smart Farming

Data analytics is largely influencing precision agriculture, which is also known as ‘smart farming’; and now being applied by many agri-businesses to reduce costs and increase farm yields. Smart farming can help improve security by gathering information of areas prone to different farm attacks, time of day, and many more important details. These can be analyzed for trends and correlation for future mitigation plans. Farm offices can collect large amount of information about crop yields, fertilizer applications, soil mapping, weather patterns, animal health and farm security. It is evident that so much is possible if we choose a proactive stance.

However, because security attacks cause irredeemable losses, farmers need much more than a farm insurance, especially when high volumes of manpower and machines are deployed to such sites. Most farms are owned by individuals or limited partners, who are completely ripped off of their investments when crimes occur. Tracing back through history, we see that farm crimes are almost as old as the existence of humanity on the planet. This buttresses Hagar’s thoughts, hence the need to find proactive and sustainable solutions that are a step or two ahead of the perpetrators.

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Moreover, on why these crimes have continued, Hagar Yahav has it said in her online article (source: https://www.jns.org/opinion/israeli-farmers-need-a-public-security-cabinet-right-now/) that Agricultural crimes are the easiest ones to perpetrate and very lucrative, and that perpetrators won’t likely be pursuing a career change any time soon. She concluded by emphasizing on the fact that security systems needed to focus on actionable steps and team work, with top notch coordination from law enforcement, police, volunteers, farmers, farmers’ organizations, the prosecution, the courts, lawmakers and the government. She further said that, all needed to work as one to itemize the most pressing needs on the ground, make available resources and “smart” technological systems for the policing, while providing requisite budget for increasing the presence of law-enforcement personnel.

To share an experience, on my visit (Israel) to a few Kibbutzim Farms, it became evident how Israelis had armed security personnels and strategically placed security cameras protecting each farm settlements remotely. Drones were not left out as the harsh desert-sunny environment was not friendly to human presence. I saw robots irrigating farms and farm processes controlled from mobile phones. So much is possible with good thinking and realistic planning. What if I told you All things are possible; and knowing that, what would you do differently as a farmpreneur? The Israeli farms look so easily penetrable, but are so highly secured by robots and drones strategically positioned with a huge dosage of artificial intelligence and cyclic learning. On one particular occasion where I tried to inquire about the worth of a particular Date Farm export in dollars, the tourist made me realize that each tree produced about $500 in annual weight of date, and with over 3,000 trees nurtured through irrigation, meant over a million dollars every year in revenue. You bet that with such revenue potential, a good budget could be allotted to qualitative security technologies. How could we better plan our farm investments from an end-to-end perspective with security at the core and fore? How could we start and nurture good partners in the security space armed with technology like G4S and Securitas handling that reality? Who will bell the securitech cat out of Africa for threatened farmers?

In conclusion, these tech-related companies offering phenomenal solutions notwithstanding, farms owners must begin to explore cooperative models towards the creation of large farm settlements, borrowing from how the Kibbutzim system has curbed such in Israel and other climes with so much threats in their neighborhood. Yes entrepreneurship is about problem solving, and that includes security, especially when it threatens our venture. I strongly encourage home-grown security companies to reach for the stars like those aforementioned. What is possible when a smart securitech startup raise good funds to address real issues plaguing 206.1million people? And this is only a sixth of the 1.385billion others with similar challenges? What security infrastructures can entrepreneurs make possible? What revolutionary realities can become possible when great technologies combine with home-grown and tailored content?

I remain open to conversations that further on the foregoing and thank you for your time investment, yours in tech, Olufemi Ariyo.

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