ISJ Exclusive: COVID-19 shows security is essential
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If there is one thing that the COVID-19 outbreak has shown us all, it’s the true worth of the people and organisations that keep our society safe and well as we go about our daily lives.
Medical professionals are rightly at the pinnacle of public attention at the moment, but the global pandemic has also highlighted the vital role that so many people play in our world, from cleaners to delivery/logistics teams, supermarket staff and the emergency services – all of whom are doing their critical jobs, whilst also battling the potential of being infected and being ill themselves.
I am proud to add the security industry to the long list of sectors which help us all stay safe and well – something which the UK Government has acknowledged following a well-targeted joint lobbying campaign by the BSIA and SIA.
A Government clarification states: “Roles essential to supporting law and order, with the potential to reduce demand on policing, also meet the critical worker definition. This would include, amongst other areas, the guarding of empty or closed commercial, retail or office premises; the monitoring of similar through CCTV or other remote means; and the provision of alarm response centres including mobile units.”
Protecting people and property
Times of crisis undoubtedly bring out the best and the worst in people, which means for the majority a greater community spirit and desire to help and share with others. Sadly, there will always be criminal elements who also see nefarious opportunities to take advantage of.
With the UK in lockdown the police and other emergency services are facing unprecedented demands upon their services. As well as their normal criminal investigations and public order duties, they are now also policing emergency social isolation rules. This leaves fewer resources to deal with crimes and lowers the deterrent for criminals targeting commercial premises, which are mostly left unattended for a potentially extended period.
Remote security systems are certainly proving their value during the lockdown period. I have spoken to a number of our installation partners who are witnessing a notable increase in interest in security systems. This is particularly to protect retail and commercial properties along with building sites (many of which are also now sitting dormant with lots of valuable materials and equipment requiring protection).
Security monitoring is only part of the picture, suitable access control is also vital in protecting property whilst its closed. Wireless door locks ensure access points can easily be secured or opened as required, vehicle barriers and bollards prevent criminals entering secure car parks and loading areas (as well as preventing ramraiding attacks). Passive security measures, such as intruder alarms and secure perimeter fencing, are also important and help to discourage a lot of unwanted attention.
Also, it’s not just the obvious security needs of facilities that benefit from security monitoring. Other issues such as fires, weather damage or water leaks can also endanger deserted buildings. Remote security and surveillance systems are perfect for inspecting sites to ensure these sorts of potential problems are detected quickly and can be rectified.
With a huge focus on the medical efforts of the NHS during this outbreak, it is easy to overlook the heightened security needs there too. Quarantine areas need to be strictly enforced, medical teams and supplies need to be protected.
TDSi and our partners have noticed a considerable rise in demand for security systems from the healthcare sector during the first quarter of 2020 – which is no surprise. The public are scared and sometimes irrational or angry, emotions are high and medical facilities must put the welfare of patients and staff ahead of anything else.
With the amount of panic buying going on recently, medical supplies (such as painkillers) are in demand, whilst many restricted medical drugs will always attract criminals (and addicts) if they are not properly secured. In uncertain times sadly hospitals need their security more than ever, to continue their vital work.
The COVID-19 outbreak will undoubtedly highlight the abilities and benefits of modern remote security systems and the dedicated professionals that provide and service them. It is also a reminder of how much security systems play a vital role in protecting our safety and enable us to get on with our lives unimpeded.
Automated systems can take up some of the slack when the human teams are compromised by challenging circumstances such as a virus outbreak. Security systems don’t need to self-isolate and won’t become ill but will stand vigilant when we all need additional assistance.
When it is used effectively, security is the perfect partner for other vital services. Those of us in the security industry need to remember just how important our role is. We are a key part of a broader effort to ensure society stays safe and secure, even at its most vulnerable times. This is something we can all reflect upon in greater detail once this crisis has abated, when we can all take stock of just what we have learnt from this unprecedented situation and how we can ensure security best practice continues to evolve going forwards.
By John Davies, Managing Director of TDSi (www.tdsi.co.uk)