6 MARCH 2002

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Not just an alarm bell

Kurt Sansone interviews Datatrak’s security consultant, Martin Zerafa

How have Datatrak’s services been received over the past two years?
After two years on the market we are doing quite well. It is not just the business community that has utilised our services but we have a number of households linked to us. In addition a number of security companies also interface with us. I must add that insurance companies have also responded to the efficiency and reliability of our systems by giving Datatrak clients a discounted premium.

What do you consider to be Datatrak’s strong point?
Undoubtedly, customisation is our strong point. We have our own research and development department, which makes us unique. Whenever a client comes to us we try to design and develop a system that suites the particular needs of the customer. Datatrak is very versatile and can cater for a range of clients – from large businesses to small shops and even households – with prices that are very competitive on the market.

Datatrak’s flagship product is the Fleetrak through which a company can monitor its own fleet of cars. What benefits does the business community derive from this system?
Through a sophisticated mapping system a company can monitor the exact location of each car it owns, ensuring greater efficiency and a cut on petrol expenses. But apart from monitoring, the system can be used to give accurate directions to salespeople. It can also provide information about the speed of the cars and the streets in which they are travelling.
The system can also provide a two-way data communication facility. Salesmen can place an order there and then. This is a system developed by Datatrak IT and it could be customised to the client’s needs. It is similar to the system used by wardens, who have access to remote databases via the equipment they carry.

What about small companies, that do not have the resources to carry out the monitoring themselves?
Datatrak can perform the monitoring on their behalf. We provide these clients with weekly reports but we can also provide them with instant information on demand if they require it.

What about private individuals wanting to protect their car from theft but who do not want to disclose each and every movement they make?
Datatrak has another product similar to Fleetrak but which allows the movement of the vehicle to be kept private. This is the Trakbak system. Unless the alarm is triggered we would not know where the vehicle is. However, if somebody attempts to break in or the car is moved without the driver’s consent, such as when it is stolen or towed away, a signal is given off.
We start monitoring that vehicle as soon as we receive the signal, which reaches both our control room as well as police headquarters. The police can then pinpoint the exact location of the car and send the closest squad car on scene.

What about the tracking system used for boats, how does that work?
Boatrak is similar to the tracking system for car fleets. However, the added advantage with Boatrak is that in case of an emergency out at sea the alarm system itself relays the exact location of the boat by pinpointing the latitude and longitude. This may result in a speedier rescue operation because salvage boats are dispatched directly to the distressed boat’s location. Boatrak keeps monitoring the boat even if it drifts and we can guarantee a service for up to 30km from the coast.

What other services does Datatrak offer?
Our latest product is Alarmtrak, providing an adequate security system for both home and business. The novelty of this system is that the locator - the unit which sends off the distress signal – can be interfaced with any normal security and fire system already in place.

How is this system different from conventional alarms?
To start with, the locator is wireless, thus the distress signal is sent via radio waves. Normal alarm systems might have a dialler to alert the client and the police but if the intruder cuts off the telephone line the alert system is practically immobilised. Being wireless, the locator will still emit an alert signal to our control room and the police. In addition, within the premises itself we can provide both wired and wireless solutions depending on the client’s demands.
But Alarmtrak has other advantages. The system has a tamper alert, by which a signal is emitted if somebody is trying to cut the cables or trying to force open the box. It also gives off a power failure alert, which is extremely important for businesses such as cold stores.
The system can also act as a fire alert. In each case the alarm is received in our control room and at the police or civil protection. The alarm goes off within seven seconds of being triggered.
The fifth important element of the alarm system is the panic button. This is given topmost priority both by us and the police. This button can be triggered by individuals in distress and is very useful for elderly people or people in high risk jobs.

At the Security Fair, Datatrak also launched a CCTV system alongside the Alarmtrak. How does this operate?
CCTV works through the installation of a PC card that can take from two to 16 cameras. It provides remote monitoring via the Internet. But we also offer point to point monitoring or even over a local area network. Modern technology allows us to link cameras directly to ADSL lines.
But the system also has a potential to cater for ‘shaded’ areas. This means that although a cameras will be monitoring the whole room, it gives off an alert signal only if somebody approaches a particularly sensitive area.

Will somebody be monitoring the CCTV 24 hours a day?
Datatrak does not have to see what is going on in the premises. We only start monitoring when the alarm is triggered. However, if a client wants constant surveillance, we can provide that as well.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt