Solving the Security Challenges Facing Art Institutions

What are the security challenges facing art institutions and private collectors, and how can they be met? Technology is the key, as we find out from the experts from Fortecho

What are the major security challenges facing art institutions?
To secure, protect and showcase their invaluable collections institutions must adapt to the constantly changing environment. It is rare that museums suffer the kind of Hollywood style heists that attract significant press attention these days. The security infrastructure active during closed hours make these attempts fraught with danger and with too low a success rate. It is during the opening hours, when all of the security infrastructure is de-activated that institutions are most at risk. Opportunistic, distraction and confidence thefts are a security manager’s worst nightmare. Institutions have to now protect their collections at object level maintaining a secure environment even when they are full.

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How do these differ from the problems of private collections?
Private collectors have a slightly different set of requirements. Often their collection will be split amongst multiple properties across different continents, needing one centralised security and inventory solution. Fortecho allows for a private client’s team to look after the collection holistically from one terminal and monitor those artworks at various locations.

What is an Active RFID solution and how does it translate to the art world?
RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. An active RFID solution gives an art collection its own individual heartbeat. Allowing the works of art themselves to check in on a minute-by-minute basis, letting the owner know where they are and that they are under no threat. RFID monitors for movement, attack, vibration and the immediate environmental conditions. Should an alarm be activated the tag will go into alarm in real time, triggering a response through integration, email, SMS or IOT.

Fortecho split screen
What are the advantages of active RFID?

There are many advantages to an active RFID system. As described above it allows for a hands-off control of an entire collection from a centralised terminal or integrated solution. It also acts as a complete inventory of a collection 1,440 times a day. RFID also removes the possibility of human error and completely modernises the management and security of any collection.

What other specialist hardware can contribute to a security solution?
Over the years clients have requested new solutions to suit their evolving needs. Whether it is proximity defence for ultra-fragile works of art using lasers, or wireless pressure plinths to detect for any change in pressure. Fortecho has integrated into a variety of cutting-edge hardware, allowing us to meet the needs of both large institutions and niche private installations.

What software does Fortecho use and what are its capabilities?
Fortecho has developed its own enterprise level client server software. The software offers advantages such as replicating databases, multiple users and real time alerts. From an environmental standpoint the software allows for data-analytics into the conditions surrounding artworks. This can be used to prove the provenance and environment in which a work of art, bottle of wine or rare jewel has been kept in.

What is the history of Fortecho?
Founded in 1996 as an IT asset tracking company mainly working with the financial sector, government institutions and law firms, following the heist of a £5million Cezanne at the Ashmolean in the early hours of the new millennium, The National Gallery in London contacted Fortecho for a pilot. We adapted our active RFID system to monitor for movement, as well as modernising the inventory system of the greatest gallery in the UK. We have since grown with the evolving needs of our clients and moved into the private sector in 2012. In 2020 Fortecho launched its latest hardware development making it the world’s only security system of this kind to offer Over-The-Air interface between tag and software.

Fortecho gallery

How successful is Fortecho technology in preventing theft?
Without jinxing ourselves, despite many attempts worldwide, we have thus far not seen any successful thefts under our watch.

What art institutions and technical partners does Fortecho work with?
Across the globe we secure the most important museums and galleries such as: The Louvre, Abu Dhabi – The Guggenheim, Bilbao – The Musee d’Orsay, Paris – The V&A, London – The Uffizi, Florence – MOMA, NY, as well as some of the world’s most important private collectors, corporations and luxury retail. Fortecho has also partnered and worked with some of the largest security companies in the world, including: Siemens, Tyco, Prosegur and Aramco.

How can I find out more about Fortecho products and services?
Our team is worldwide, but the best point of contact is within our London HQ. Either our Head of Commercial Bart Miller or the CEO Rob Green.

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