The role of smart wifi in keeping farms safe
8th April 2021
Rural crime in the UK hit an eight-year high in 2020, costing farms and rural businesses around £54 million. Gareth Williams, CEO at Gigaclear, a leading rural broadband provider, talks to us about the essential role that Smart WiFi can have in keeping rural communities safe from crime.
According to NFU Mutual, the rise in crime is being driven by “organised gangs” targeting expensive vehicles like tractors and quadbikes. There’s also been a spike in livestock theft, including a 15 percent increase in sheep rustling.
Rural crime has two major impacts. It affects businesses from a monetary point of view, costing millions of pounds every year – and from a wellbeing aspect, causing untold stress to farmers and rural workers up and down the UK. In fact, according to NFU Mutual’s latest rural crime report, the actual cost of rural crime in 2019 alone was £54.3 million, almost a nine percent increase on the previous year.
With agriculture, farming and rural businesses being vital to the UK’s economy, it is important that every angle is explored in order to better protect these communities. So, how can broadband and Smart WiFi help rural businesses stay safe and better protect their assets?
Protection by WiFi
When you consider that the value of high-end farm equipment theft, such as tractors, quadbikes and four-wheel drives, totalled £14.5 million in 2019, up from £11.6 million in 2018, and that the cost of livestock theft rose by nine percent to £3 million, it’s clear to see the scale of the problem.
Even if equipment is fitted with alarms, the reality is that the police will take a while to arrive on the scene, simply due to the remote location of farms and rural businesses.
However, reliable broadband and Smart WiFi products allow for proactive and reactive prevention measures to be introduced. There is an array of alarm systems available, plus security and hidden cameras, spotlights, microphones, doorbells, speakers, and locks, that can all be connected to help protect a farm and its assets. Sensors are having an incredibly positive impact for rural business owners, alerting them if someone enters the vicinity of their premises, or if a vehicle is moved. These devices not only make it harder for the actual crime to take place, but because they are connected to the internet via WiFi, they can record and log all of the data they collect. This will be incredibly useful for when the police arrive, and for insurance purposes too.
Farms that are able to put trust in their WiFi performance can then add or remove security devices as they see fit, providing a flexible, and often low cost option. It also means that the entire security platform of a farm can be controlled from one central hub, making it easy and accessible for the farm-owner to check in, and change the status. This can all be done remotely, giving people greater peace of mind about the safety of their farm, from their own home.
Understanding the Future
Any rural business can do this; however, it does rely on having a broadband connection that is able to run all the necessary smart devices at one time. Boris Johnson’s Government recently outlined its intention to have every property in Britain connected to full-fibre internet by 2025, so those rural communities that are still battling with outdated infrastructure have this to look forward to.
For those farms that are lucky enough to have a broadband provider that can offer high speeds direct to the property, WiFi could be a safety gamechanger. However, what many business owners don’t appreciate is that the materials used to build rural properties have a huge impact on traditional WiFi performance. Stone walls, large rooms, unusual layouts, metal, mirrors and concrete, are all commonplace in country communities, and all severely interfere with WiFi signal.
So, even if a farmhouse can get fast broadband to the front door, it doesn’t guarantee strong performance throughout the whole premise. In fact, many rural businesses struggle to operate unless they remain next to the router. Smart WiFi combats this challenge by effectively throwing a ‘WiFi bubble’ over an area, which can be easily extended by adding a series of interconnected points. This is transformational, allowing farms to operate unlike ever before, and better protect themselves and their resources.
Being based in the countryside shouldn’t put companies at an immediate disadvantage, especially when it comes to protecting their livelihoods and the jobs of those they employ. Broadband is a key cog in this machine and must be better understood before the full advantages can be felt.
Through the better use of Smart WiFi, farms and rural business owners will be able to reduce theft and damage through being connected to their outdoor assets, and therefore better protect their bottom line.
For more information about Gigaclear’s ultrafast broadband, visit www.gigaclear.co.uk.