Current Events and Macro Trends Offer Important Lessons for the Security Industry

As much as we focus on how technology trends affect the security industry, it’s also important to pay attention to broader global trends. There are many to consider, but there are two in particular that should be examined more closely because they carry important lessons and potentially profound effects: The COVID-19 pandemic and corporate global citizenship.

RESILIENCE IN THE FACE OF CRISIS

Similar to other major crises, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the economy. And, like other crises, it presents the opportunity for us to strengthen our resolve. As businesses scramble to implement new norms of operation, physical security tools are providing added value that’s helping them curb the spread of the virus, meet safety guidelines, reopen their doors, and stay open.

  • We are seeing more demand for touch-less door entry solutions like video intercoms and mobile Apps that can authenticate users through their smartphones to automatically open doors. In order to promote adherence to pandemic safety guidelines, there are businesses using intelligent IP audio systems, triggered by video or access control systems, to communicate important health information to everyone entering the building.
  • We are also seeing greater use of video analytics customized to detect whether individuals are wearing face masks.
  • Many businesses are using occupancy estimator analytics to track in real-time how many people are on premises to ensure the total doesn’t exceed government mandated limits.
  • Some organizations are using cameras embedded with a heat mapping analytic to identify high-traffic areas within their facilities. By understanding where people congregate, retailers and other organizations can take steps to reconfigure spaces and reduce bottlenecks as well as identify and treat areas that require more frequent and extensive cleaning.
  • With the goal of lessening health risks, hospitals are installing video cameras and intercoms in patient rooms to reduce the frequency of in-person encounters between patients and medical staff. This is also helping them stretch their limited supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

There is no silver bullet solution to any problem, but the inventive use of technology coupled with common sense can help to make things safer and “more normal.” Crises can create confusion and cloud decisions for a population that’s desperate for answers. As trusted advisors it’s up to us to provide information, offer guidance and dispel misconceptions. Thermal imaging cameras created such a dilemma during COVID since many in the industry speculated that they could effectively detect human fever on a broad scale. However, as experts we know that these cameras are not designed or approved by the FDA for this purpose and they pose accuracy issues with regards to long-range fever detection and mass screenings.

The COVID crisis surely tested the world and our industry, and it continues to do so. It has highlighted some strengths and weaknesses. There’s no doubt that flexible solutions, diverse ecosystems and strong relationships have helped provide protection and mitigate losses in this crisis--and they have the potential to do the same in the next crisis.

SUSTAINING FOR THE LONG-TERM

As prominent members of the global community, businesses are increasingly expected to be stewards of social, environmental and business ethics. More businesses are realizing that corporate social responsibility is more than an obligation or a fad, but instead an essential part of long-term success, or sustainability. In the coming years, security companies will need to step up their commitment to sustainable business practices throughout their entire value chain.

It is important for sustainability to be considered at all levels of corporate decision making, because it’s surely a factor in customer buying decisions. People want to do business with companies that reflect their own values, whether that’s actively pursuing energy efficiency, contributing to industry thought-leadership, or addressing issues that serve the greater good. For businesses, sustainability is about enduring, succeeding, meeting present day needs without compromising the future.

Some of today’s most innovative companies are finding balance and advancing the three Ps: Planet, People and Profit. Everything from instituting stringent anticorruption policies and environmentally friendly operations to implementing diversity and inclusion practices, and community service programs are providing companies with a return on investment. This return comes in the form of trusted suppliers, talent retention, quality products, loyal customers and a healthy bottom line.

In the security industry we deal in trust, compounded by issues like cybersecurity, technology ethics and data privacy. We are held to a high standard and our decisions can have crucial consequences on our future. The three tenets of sustainability -- business, environmental and social ethics -- can offer us sound guidance. How important is it to focus on sustainability? Well, consider this, since the Fortune 500 list began in 1955, only 52 original companies remain.

CORE VALUES TO NAVIGATE CHANGE

As an industry, whether responding to the expected progression of macro-trends or the impact of unanticipated events, certain values — innovation, ethics, trust — never go out of style. With those values embedded in our industry’s DNA, we’re better positioned to navigate whatever changes the future may have in store for us.

This article originally appeared in the November / December 2020 issue of Security Today.

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