Justin Berst’s Vision: Valor’s Pioneering AI-Driven Crime Prevention
By: Sunnie Dawn Baker
“Hey, you in the blue shirt and ballcap! You’re trespassing and the police have been called!” The voice rings out in the night, seemingly out of nowhere, as the potential criminal looks around wildly, has second thoughts, and flees the construction site. Valor Mobile Security has done its job and saved a business from theft or vandalism. This is one of many scenarios that Justin Berst, founder of Valor Mobile Security, talks about as he explains how his company can help prevent crime.
Berst has deep roots in the community as a Chickasaw citizen and ECU graduate. Because of this, he wants to find ways to make our community better and safer. When this desire was coupled with his own entrepreneurial spirit, Berst founded Valor Mobile Security. In 2020, Berst started a construction company. He observed the stakeholders’ need to feel secure in their investments. Theft or vandalism at a construction site can incur hundreds of thousands of dollars and lead to production delays. However, as Berst says, “There’s a shortage of manpower, there are rising costs of manpower, and there’s a greater need to be in more places than one.” But new technologies and capabilities allowed Berst to find a solution to a problem. And in February of 2023, he founded Valor Mobile Security.
Mobile Security allows clients to have eyes and ears on their property at all times, but it goes far beyond traditional security cameras or security systems. These mobile units are set up on trailers so they can be easily moved and set up anywhere. They don’t need to be physically networked to the internet or connected to a power source. They connect to the internet through cellular networks or satellite across encrypted tunnels. Solar panels power the units, supplemented by a power cord and backup generator for redundancies, although they are rarely needed. These units have the capability to run for seven days without requiring additional power or sunlight. Typically, three cameras are mounted on the unit—one on a 360-degree swivel, and two that are pointed wherever they need to be. These units also record audio and can relay audio as well. It can be a pre-recorded statement, or, if there is an incident, then the person responding can speak directly to the intruder through the device. A perimeter is designated in the software and the system will focus on that area. If the system detects a threat, it alerts the previously designated point of contact.
One of the most fascinating things about these units, though, is how they utilize AI capabilities to analyze the data and decide what is and isn’t a threat. They recognize the difference between an animal and a human, but they also utilize facial recognition to identify individuals. For instance, a company can upload images of approved individuals, and the AI alerts only if it detects an unrecognized person. These capabilities will expand as AI advances, especially in fields such as behavioral analytics. The software flags suspicious behavior like kneeling beside an ATM or crawling on the ground. In traditional security systems, it would either record and someone could look at it after the fact, or you could have a person monitoring the feed the whole time to note these things. Now, AI eliminates the need for that because it does it for you.
In addition to all these features, the systems also detect gunshots, breaking glass, and screaming. Valor Mobile Security partners with another company to do weapon detection as well. It only takes ten seconds to send an alert that a weapon has been brandished. The AI takes about two seconds, and then it immediately sends the information to a human for confirmation. This extra time could save countless lives and help first responders understand the situation before they respond, which suits his target customer base: law enforcement, construction sites, and school systems.
These systems can be used on their own or integrated into existing security systems. Because they are custom designed and do not use proprietary software, they can freely network the mobile systems with existing security camera systems. Also, if a site already has a security guard, these systems can supplement them, enabling them to be in two places at once and be notified if a dangerous situation is emerging, providing them the opportunity to call the police for assistance. These systems are designed to help prevent situations from occurring instead of collecting evidence after the fact. As Berst says, “We are just so excited to be doing something that is proactive instead of reactive.”
While there are other mobile security companies out there, there are many things that set Valor apart. One reason for these differences is that Berst looks at the product and service from his customer’s point of view, especially because, as the owner of a construction company, he essentially is a part of his target market. Most other mobile security systems are plug and play and don’t integrate into existing systems; they arrive as they are, with little to no customization. Also, they either require separate use or the customer has to redo their existing system to make them work together. That is far from the case with Valor, which not only customizes based upon existing security infrastructure, but also the needs of each situation. For instance, they offer an extensive selection of cameras, including infrared. Also, most other systems lack AI enhancement, but Berst sees this not only as the way forward but also as a way to provide a better and safer service to his customers.
Berst is on a mission to make his community a safer place and prevent crime before it occurs. Encountering problems while working in construction led him to see a solution that can help many different sectors be safer and more secure. And because AI is integrated into his systems, they can continue to advance and become more sophisticated as the technological capabilities grow.
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