The evolution of Guarding
The security industry stands strong in the face of technological advances – embracing cutting-edge innovations to bolster their manpower and create a formidable, watchful force. While automation has replaced human labor in many industries, it seems unlikely that any machine could ever provide the same presence as skilled professionals on patrol. By combining up-to-date technology with experienced personnel, this invaluable service is kept reliable for all kinds of businesses around the world.
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.
In today's world, security solutions are taking the form of modern technology. High-tech digital video cameras, thermal imaging devices and networked products all come together to create a smart system that is far more efficient than ever before. In particular, advanced video analytics combined with specialized cameras has been presented as an alternative – or even replacement – for conventional guarding services due to its unparalleled capabilities.
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 has created a sea change in many industries, requiring fewer people but with greater capability. This means more informed decision-making, as we are now able to visualize and process data at levels never seen before. The new generation must be prepared for this brave new world where supplanting manual methods will demand an elevated skill set from those expected to make key decisions.
For smart surveillance to be effective, there must be strong human involvement in addition to technology. The staff tasked with this role require the highest calibre of training and expertise; they should understand complexities like road conditions and data systems inside-out. This way, their interpretation and decision-making will keep pace with cutting-edge artificial intelligence algorithms that can analyze vast amounts of mission critical information quickly.
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.