Closing Staffing Gaps

Reducing precious costs with remote guarding solutions

Societal and economic conditions related to increases in operating expenses have created recruiting and retention challenges impacting all employers and increasing guarding costs over the past few years. Meanwhile, security threats have increased with rising crime rates.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the murder rate in the United States increased 30 percent between 2019 and 2020— the largest single year increase in more than a century. Another study completed by the Council on Criminal Justice found that the number of murders in 2021 was 5 percent higher than that of 2020.

Traditionally, security officers and crowds are visual deterrents to help prevent crimes from happening in the first place. With fewer security guards and smaller crowds in public spaces due to pandemic implications, there is greater risk of criminal activity. When employees started working from home just over two years ago, companies reduced their security presence believing that there were less people to protect.

Unfortunately, with less people present, there is an even greater need for security to protect company assets because there is less of a visual deterrent. Contrary to popular belief, with fewer employees and customers, companies often need more security protection.

Now, organizations must reimagine how they secure and protect their assets. To fight back and protect property and people at a lower cost, many are turning to technology. Technology helps meet critical security needs to face the challenge of protecting assets while navigating a tight labor market. Similar to the Six Sigma approach that businesses use to more efficiently improve processes, remote guarding can more efficiently supplement physical security to reduce risk and cost.

How Remote Guarding Works
The remote guarding of today is far advanced beyond passive motion detectors and video cameras. New technologies incorporate the “Internet of Things” (IoT) to advance crime prevention and monitoring into active virtual guards. Through the IoT, electronics, software, sensors and more work together to closely monitor spaces and provide real-time situation awareness and intervention.

Remote guarding can incorporate many different technologies, including live cameras, anti-loitering technology, unauthorized vehicle identification via license plate recognition (LPR), gunshot detection and mobile surveillance units (MSUs).

Highly-trained agents who are remotely located use a combination of artificial intelligence and analytics to proactively monitor the “live” camera feeds and, when an unauthorized presence is detected, they can use voice down technology to view and communicate with intruders to help prevent a crime before it is committed.

These remote agents also help reduce liabilities and concerns related to security officers on a property. Remote agents act as the eyes and ears for on-site security officers and law enforcement responding to threats. Through surveillance, remote agents can guide the physical officers to the threat and detail when criminals draw a weapon or fire shots.

Today’s monitoring technology is also much more advanced at recognizing false alarms. When a false alarm is spotted, such as an animal or wind, remote agents can manage it without having to interrupt on-site security or law enforcement. Just five years ago, false positive alarms occurred 20-30 percent of the time and now those rates can be as low as 5-10 percent, according to ECAMSECURE data.

Additionally, remote guarding can provide peace of mind to employees who are on site. With many companies still operating with hybrid or flex schedules, employees may feel more at risk and increased security monitoring helps them know that someone is watching over and can react quickly to provide support.

Tight Labor Ramps up Need for Force Multiplier
With staffing shortages, labor costs have increased causing a direct effect on security budgets. Remote guarding is a force multiplier that can reduce physical security headcount while enabling increased wages to meet market levels and ensure high-quality security officers without an increase to security budgets.

Protecting complex environments with broad perimeters, multiple buildings and numerous entry points would be extremely costly to protect with security officers today. Remote guarding can work with on-site security officers to provide constant, ongoing security.

For instance, remote guarding can be used to support overnight security. Properties tend to be most vulnerable at night since that’s when a physical presence is lowest. AI-powered cameras can detect trespassers and alert remote agents who can then communicate with intruders and on-site security officers or local law enforcement.

Evaluating Remote Guarding
For companies that need to enhance their security without breaking budgets, remote guarding and hybrid solutions are incredibly effective. When looking at remote options, companies should consider reliability, reputation, speed and audio services. They can even ask to test drive the remote services, so they understand what type of surveillance is best.

In the event of an outage at the remote site, companies should make sure that their remote guarding has a business continuity redundant site and crisis management plan. Companies should also understand how their security data is stored and how remote agents are trained. While remote agents are not on site, it’s just as important that they can act quickly and professionally to deter threats.
Many companies have turned to remote guarding because of its cost savings and flexibility. For those who have faced staffing shortages or cost increases over the past few years, it is a good time to consider how remote guarding can support companies’ security programs.

This article originally appeared in the September / October 2022 issue of Security Today.

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