COVID-19 and the Security Industry
In our current world there is no escaping the news about the COVID-19 outbreak. This Corona pandemic is of course also affecting our security industry. We receive statements daily about how manufacturers are trying to safeguard their business continuity and how they aim to limit the impact of this worldwide crisis on their ability to supply in time. The impact of the COVID-19 on our society and economy enormous. It is illustrative how vulnerable our health, society, economy and business really are. It might make sense for the industry to ask what we can learn from this unprecedented situation. Let’s have a look at some obvious or maybe not so obvious takeaways.
Supply chain dependencies
One obvious take-away is that we may have to look at our supply chain again now that we know that one little virus can take down a nation for weeks. When factories close and products and components are not available in time, the entire supply chain productivity may collapse, leading to issues in projects and unsatisfied clients, which may increase corporate liability risks.
The importance of access control
Access control is about having the ability as an organization to manage who is able to be present in which zone at specific times and under specific conditions. The current situation is emphasizing the need in hospitals, government buildings and corporate sites to be able to only allow a specific group of people with access to restricted areas. These access rights should easily be changed rapidly based on new developments. Having the ability to change the overall security level of the system easily, which is translated into altered access rights at entrances for personnel with a certain security clearance level, may be a highly valuable asset in these crisis situations.
Additionally it is clear that managing the access of visitors and contractors to the organisations estate and buildings is of great value. Knowing who is coming into your organization and also being aware about the whereabouts of these individuals could be of the greatest value when trying to optimize chances of business continuity and personnel health and safety.
The potential of video surveillance and AI
Some vendors are already highlighting the availability of thermal cameras with advances AI algorithms that are capable of providing accurate body temperature readings. This technology can help to remotely monitor access of individuals to hospitals, sensitive corporate facilities and other areas and very quickly identify people with suspiciously increase body temperatures. Even people that are unaware of their condition might be identified.
Another concept that is talked about a lot today but probably was not known to many people before, is ‘social distancing’. Governments are asking people to refrain from assembling in groups and keeping a distance between individuals of approximately 1,5 to 2 meters. Video surveillance with AI might help monitor areas with many people to detect behavior that may increase infection risks.
Risk management and business continuity
It would be an interesting question to ask senior managers and security managers worldwide, that are involved in performing risk analyses and establishing contingency plans, whether they have seriously included a pandemic virus outbreak as a significant risk to their business. Many may have underestimated the chance of something like this happening. And many will have underestimated the impact on their business continuity.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is so big that its occurrence should be a clear advocate for any business that risk management is not something that should happen only in the board rooms of large enterprise organizations. Also smaller enterprises are now confronted with the disastrous consequences of this unforeseen circumstance. Could we have had an alternative production facility? Is our supply chain and our logistics chain robust enough? Can we move portions of our operations elsewhere when needed? Do we support people working from home or other locations?
The roaming worker and converged security
And when we support staff working from remote locations and from their home office, have we taken all necessary precautions to keep them productive in a secure way? The current crisis clearly illustrates the need for IT security staff and physical security staff to work together. Where are our people? What do they need to perform their jobs? How do we make sure they have access to those logical and physical resources? How do we make sure our business continuity is safeguarded against malicious attacks? How do we educate our staff to be aware of risks. Converging security makes sense. Physical security and cyber security are interdependent for their success.
Entrance control and video intercom
Logically managing who has access to what zones using an access control system is one thing. Ensuring that only those authorized people get physical access is a completely different ball game. Physical entrances come in many different shapes and formats. Doors, gates, circle locks: all have their own characteristics. Some offer the perception of freedom and openness, while others focus more on ensuring one-by-one entrance of authorized individuals. Motivating staff to follow corporate policies regarding social distancing and maximum presence in zones, may be easier with the right physical entrance systems.
And of course our security systems in corporate or private estates should enable people to communicate remotely. The latest generations of video door phones and intercoms are offering great ways remotely speak to people and actually see them, before granting them access with the right safety instructions.
The value of contact-less technologies
The Corona pandemic has reminded us of the importance of hygiene and the vulnerability of our personal health. Thankfully there many hands-free or touch-less ways to identify people and grant them access to your facilities.
Maybe the COVID-19 outbreak will remind us of the potential and value of mobile access control and its ability to allow people hand-free access and communicate to them in a smart way.
When using biometric identification systems, there are now also ways to identify people with the need to press a finger or hand on a reading station. Think about facial recognition (despite the debate related to it) or touch-less fingerprint reading.
And of course there are several long range RFID solutions, like UHF/RAIN RFID that may be great to support access control installations for people and vehicles in a convenient, secure and hygienic way.
The current crisis is very unfortunate. Maybe we can learn something from it. But above all, we wish you all the best of luck and good health for yourself and your colleagues and friends. Stay safe!