The evolution of Guarding
Security services are, at their core, manpower-based services. Few technological innovations deliver a presence on the same level as a watchful team of trained officers and security specialists. Unlike other sectors of business – where hardware and software have completely traded out the human element – the security industry has embraced modern technology in a way that does not replace workers, but, rather, enhances them.
Combining technology and guarding
Today there are many companies, suppliers as well as consumers, that haven’t realised that the most efficient security solution is when you combine technology and guarding into one holistic solution. We still see too many companies that procure guarding, monitoring and technology services as separate pieces.
From a supplier perspective, the most evident example of the partnership between these three elements is, of course, at the guard level. Guard tour tracking and verification solutions can provide an additional layer of visibility from a management perspective. These systems maintain real-time GPS position monitoring of security personnel and vehicles during exterior patrols, and synchronised check-point scanning with barcode (RFID) tags for interior guard tour monitoring. The benefit is a security force that is more vigilant and accountable. But supplemental technologies do not end at the guard level.
Today there are security solutions that can be more intelligent and efficient than ever before; these solutions are using digital video cameras, thermal cameras, network products, advanced software and deeper integration between different systems. But the product most closely connected to traditional guarding and also often compared with guards is, of course, video analytics in combination with advanced cameras. They are often brought forward as the “guard killer”.
The marketing of video analytics and smart surveillance over the previous few years has been dominated by statements that these facilities would justify their cost by getting rid of personnel. The last few months, however, have seen a serious questioning of the worth of video analytics, with the claims of replacing manpower seen as vastly inflated.
It is unfortunate though, that the marketing focus did not rather emphasise the potential gains from the genuine potential use of video analytics to greatly enhance the performance of operators rather than replace them. Video analytics do have a significant role in security, but their integration into security needs to be strategic and consider the nature of security risk and human factor implications.
Higher calibre of staff
The introduction of technology enhancements in many industries, not just security, brings with it a greater demand on human processing and decision making. It may involve less people, but inevitably it requires better people who can make more informed decisions based on the increased sophistication of information produced by the technology.
The calibre of these staff needs to be high, they need to have extensive training, and the situational awareness of what is on the road and the nature of the computer systems and information supplied has to be high. As indicated in the start of this article, the implementation of smart surveillance does not just mean that for technology and simple computer decision-making – the human element of interpretation and decision-making needs to be smarter as well.
These are just a few examples of how forward-thinking security firms are using technological advances as added value to the services and capabilities of their workforce. While hardware devices and software support should never be utilised as your sole sources of security, they can be integral, reliable, and cost-effective enhancements for protecting your peace of mind. With the advent of sophisticated technology in the security industry, many private and public sectors have turned towards it for their security solutions. This has resulted in creating the conception that there is no more need for security guards. This is an extremely dangerous idea, both for the companies and the security industry.
Here are a few points why technology needs to work hand-in-hand with security guards and rather reinforce than replace:
Unlike technology, which can be installed only at particular set points and have limited scanning perspective, which can create blind spots, security guards provide the advantage of movement, mobility and all the human senses.
Programmed systems can handle only a set of problems. Security guards are versatile decision-makers and capable of adapting themselves to any unexpected situations.
Quick response is an important aspect when it comes to security. Compared to automated systems which only prompt police officials during emergencies, security guards respond and can tackle emergencies in a very short period.
A human element
Having security guards taking care of you provides a sense of assurance which no amount of technology can. Also, unlike technology, the interaction is more direct and rich. For instance more and more companies are using guards as a receptionist welcoming and greeting customers and employees.
From a thief’s point of view, it is easier for him to plan and overcome technology than a security guard. An intruder will think twice before attacking security personnel rather than technology for the fear of an undesired outcome.
Having stated the above, there is no intent to devaluing technology in any way. It’s just to showcase how some aspects covered by security guards are irreplaceable. In fact, with proper training and knowledge, if we could couple guards with smart and innovative technology into one holistic solution, covering monitoring, technology and guarding, it will prove to be the ultimate security solution.
I refer to this as Integrated Guarding Solutions, covering on-site, mobile and remote guarding as well as technology, and foresee it to be the future of Security Solutions.