COVID-19 and its inevitable aftermath pose a unique challenge to security professionals both across the country and globally. Teams have been forced to adapt to new internal and external threats, rapidly changing workforce environments and a disruption in the resources often relied upon to protect facilities. There is no doubt that the principles adopted, changes made and lessons learned to establish this “new normal”, will be implemented into security and business continuity planning moving forward.
A Changing Threat
The United States is facing a sharp increase in unemployment and stagnant economic activity. This volatile combination is likely to result in instability and social unrest, leading to a greater level of violent disruptions and opportune crimes. The fear of such disruption is evidenced by the rush to purchase weapons and ammunition since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. Indeed, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted 3.7 million background checks for firearm purchases during March 2020 alone, the highest monthly figure ever reported by the Bureau, resulting in nearly 2.6 million firearm purchases.
The security industry must face this new reality head on. Strategic intervention to both maintain security and business continuity, including increased employee, facility and asset safety, achieved with the correct approach and technology, are no longer merely a recommendation, but a necessity.
Remote Access and Notifications
As 51% of the US workforce transitioned to working remotely, the redundancy of physical security solutions which require on-site servers became apparent. Such systems exhibit clear weaknesses in these new circumstances. They often have very limited visibility, only viewable whilst present at a facility or from a central Security Operations Center. Regular maintenance and specialist visits for system upgrades are also a cumbersome requirement. As a result, these systems are often operating on outdated versions of software, within just a few months of installation. Overall, these factors lead to a greater possibility of incidents being missed, systems being underutilized, and increased downtime levels.
In addition to limited access capabilities, the absence of an advanced notification infrastructure within a system poses a clear threat. Lack of an automated means of both contacting key personnel and distributing essential information, at any time, can render a system deficient or even redundant. This can cause potentially dangerous incidents to be wrongly addressed or missed entirely. SMS, phone and email notifications are crucial to ensure correct information dissemination, during chaotic periods, when they will be needed most. Otherwise, even the best security systems can be rendered useless.
Transitioning to cloud-based security systems, accessible from anywhere, makes facility management both more efficient, flexible and safer, removing dependence on localized servers or on-site personnel resources. Regular over-the-air system updates ensure state-of-the-art protection, providing new features and the latest technology, without specialist support visits. Furthermore, a robust notification infrastructure within each security solution, accessed anytime, anywhere, guarantees the optimum response to any threat.
The responsibilities of the security guard force within organizations have also shifted dramatically since the onset of COVID-19. Major guardforce contractors are hiring at an unprecedented rate. The changing priorities of the role have brought guards out of the Security Operations Center and into the frontline domain. In the immediate, this is to assist with screening and enforcing social distancing measures, and over the longer term, in response to the increased threats of robbery and violent crime that have already started to trend upwards.
This diversification and reprioritization of responsibilities, creates an issue for the wide number of technologies dependent on human monitoring and verification, such as camera systems. Detection systems that require an individual to manually notify law enforcement of an incident are also becoming redundant. These costly assets can quickly become less effective in aiding a real-time response if not monitored, and instead become solely a mechanism for evidence-gathering.
With current trends set to continue, ensuring security investments are dedicated to technology that requires no monitoring or human verification is paramount. Consequently, organizations are finding increased value in developing wholly automated response protocols, with integrations into multiple security systems that can provide a pre-programmed active response, without the need for security personnel intervention.
This response requires a trigger that is both accurate and guaranteed to detect.
Office space demands have evolved dramatically over recent weeks. Past trends showed a move towards more and more open office environments, with a corresponding reduction in square footage per person, in the average office.
Now, social distancing measures have forced this to change, for at least the short and medium term. Increased partitions between workspaces and reductions in office capacity, contrasted with remote working trends and mandated changes to shift patterns to minimize contact, are disrupting facilities. The flexibility and scalability of any security technology to adapt to this changing workspace is a particularly important factor when considering security systems of the future.
Solutions which demand large capital expenditure, or extensive labor costs, cannot be adopted easily or deployed swiftly to meet immediate need, due to budgetary restraints, and can quickly become obsolete to new threats. The security industry has already shifted towards flexible technology that is simple to deploy on both a small and large scale, without the high capital costs that forbid mid-budget year purchase. COVID-19 will only serve to accelerate this trend to OpEx or subscription based services, scalable to real-time need.
The Role of AmberBox Gunshot Detection
AmberBox’s market leading technology has been designed for this changing world. The system is the only third generation gunshot detection technology available today, utilizing a combination of percussion, infrared and machine learning sound to detect threats accurately, without needing line of sight. This enables an autonomous response, without the requirement for human verification.
Notifications through the AmberBox Response Platform to E911 and key personnel enable access from anywhere. The automated conference call with law enforcement facilitates the most effective, immediate information sharing, wherever your staff are located. The system can be accessed on any device with a modern browser, so your security personnel are not restricted to a terminal, when they are needed most.
Detectors have always been deployed as part of a scalable, multifaceted response. AmberBox protects all manner of sites, from small convenience stores with a single detector, to global corporate campuses. Each is assured of seamless integration, constantly updated technology and guaranteed reliability.
Procuring Security Solutions Post COVID-19
The evaluation and ultimate purchase of new security solutions are always a considered matter, but organizations will now have to reflect even more closely upon these new challenges and the principles adopted during this time. The following features and capabilities will likely be a crucial point of evaluation moving forward:
- Remote access
- Automatic notification to key personnel
- Self monitoring, with no human verification requirements
- Simple installation
- Flexible deployment size
- OpEx or subscription based services
In this evolving security environment, it has never been more important to move beyond the constraints of traditional technologies, to recognize the need for smarter security solutions, offering flexibility and higher operational effectiveness.