The recent pandemic has brought with it many many changes in the world we live in. While it might not be something most of us think about every day, one of those changes is the drastic shift in the physical security landscape. 2020 and 2021 created great challenges for the security industry, which ultimately lead to a tough lesson being learned; always be ready to pivot. Thankfully, these challenges came at a time of rapid technology development. Security guards and their employers had no choice but to embrace new technology in order to navigate the changes and challenges of the security landscape.
What challenges did the security landscape face?
As we all know by now, the pandemic totally changed the way most of us work. The same is true in the security landscape. Due to work-from-home mandates, staffing shortages and wide scale business closures, security guards are stretched thinner than ever. While hopes were high for 2021 and 2022 to see us return fully to normal, this simply wasn’t the case. Closures, limited hours and staffing issues still linger. As a result, businesses are facing ongoing security challenges.
A recent survey on business owners by Pro-Vigil found that 28% of respondents experienced an increase in physical security incidents in 2021. This is up 20% on 2020. So, even though the pandemic is winding down, security incidents are still on the rise. Pro-Vigil also asked these respondents why they believe incidents are on the rise. 9.7% of them believe it’s due to security guard shortages, and a whopping 38.7% put it down to supply chain issues. Issues with the supply chain cause delivery delays, material shortages and cost surges. These issues have fuelled a spike in asset and inventory theft on everything from heavy equipment to vehicles and retail items. So, with security guard shortages and a rise in theft, what’s the solution? Technology of course. Let’s take a look at how the security landscape has shifted to embrace technology in the face of these challenges.
Embracing Technology in the Security Landscape
Thankfully, while challenges have risen in the security landscape, so has the rate of development of new technology. Without these enhancements and adaptations, the security issues would go on to rise unchecked, and ultimately get out of control. Let’s look at some of these technologies and enhancements and what risks they mitigate.
Access Control Systems
What happens when you have a shortage of security guards, with an increased demand for on-site patrols? You rely on technology. Business places that previously relied on physical security to monitor access etc. Now have no choice but to look at alternative security measures. Now, businesses rely on access control systems with facial recognition technology, biometric ID systems, NFCs or smartphone systems to monitor and control access. These technologies have allowed the security landscape to adjust to the reduced number of security guards.
Remote Video Monitoring & Data Collection
Similar to the issue above, what does a business do when they cannot rely on security guards to monitor their location/property? Today, they turn to video technology and analytics to monitor what’s happening on the ground without needing to be physically present. While the security landscape has been embracing this technology for years now, reliance is currently higher than ever. Pre-pandemic, most businesses using remote video were simply recording and storing their footage, not using it any further unless there was an incident.
In the current security landscape however, companies have invested time, money and effort into using remote video monitoring (RVM) as a form of security. 40% of respondents from the Pro-Vigil survey say they are now using it effectively rather than just recording & storing footage. While this is a great security measure, and tool to have, it also serves another purpose; data collection. In the current security landscape, more companies than ever are using RVM to spot trends and patterns in incidents, which can help them develop more proactive strategies instead of reactive ones. It also allows companies to share real-time insights across their organization to drive other strategy changes.
This is perhaps one of the biggest changes in the security landscape due to technology. While this may sound like something from a sci-fi movie, there are remote locations that now rely on security robots for round-the-clock protection. These robots are most commonly used in locations where security was already challenging due to logistics, safety and costs. Security robots can provide 24hr perimeter intrusion detection and they also integrate with existing security workforce management solutions. These autonomous robots are great for organizations that have ever-changing security & surveillance needs.
While the cloud has been around for quite some time now, the security industry has never felt the need to move to it before now. The last two years have accelerated the move to the cloud across the security landscape. More and more security guard firms have started to leverage cloud solutions to offer more flexibility to their operations. Cloud-based security workforce management solutions (like Celayix) bring together security operations, mobile services, admin duties and analytics. This has been a real lifeline for the security landscape over the last few years. Without cloud-based security workforce management tools, a lot of security businesses would have collapsed by now.
Lessons Learned in the Security Landscape
2020 and 2021 were eye-opening years in the security landscape. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and this couldn’t be truer for the recent changes in the security industry. Physical security would not be where it is today without the inventions and innovations in technology. The lesson here is that security firms cannot become complacent with the way they operate today. Innovation and the ability to pivot are essential for success and longevity.