2014 continued to see an increased use of technology within the security sector, a trend supported by the higher levels of integration between all sectors of the security trade, from physical to digital, computing to electrical. The development of innovative technological solutions has helped to optimise the services of traditional man guarding practices and to give security companies an edge in an increasingly competitive and price-sensitive industry.

Businesses are relying on technological advancements for improved convenience in their work and business life. Technology has become a substantial part of life and many people cannot even remember the days when it was impossible to connect to the internet via a phone. The security sector experienced this very same trend and has moved forward, resulting in sufficient improvements in terms of monitoring and safety. In some instances, the requirements of having a physical security force in place to secure a premises or asset may have decreased and been replaced with technology such as CCTV.

Other technological advancements have made the essence of security fundamentally easier. Equipment such as motion activated security means officers no longer have to watch hours of security footage in order to find what they are looking for. Also highlighted video feeds show cameras where activity is taking place. These additions to the security industry enable security guards to quickly identify and act instantly. Compare this with previous years where security guards had to spend hours trying to find the relevant video in which the event took place. The time saved allows security officers to focus on other tasks and better secure buildings and people.

Whilst technology has become the backbone of professional security services, investment in technology alone is not effective in providing an end-to-end security solution; neither can the importance of manned guarding be underestimated.

Mr John Roddy
Mr John Roddy

However, security models should start with a clear understanding of the customer’s risk profile which tends to change on a daily basis and at different times of the day. It is only once the customer’s risk is clearly understood that one can develop the appropriate security solution, which may be 100% technology or 100% manpower although it is often a blend of the two. It is vital for the security staff to understand the seriousness of a customer’s risk profile. This allows the staff to prepare appropriately for the task at hand. There are certain cases when the threat surrounding an event can be extremely high; when these events arise the security officers in place have to be experienced in dealing with crisis management. At the Shield Group, all the security staff are trained to ensure they understand how to handle situations such as these. The consequences of security officers being unequipped to handle high pressure situations are extremely high. There should be no doubt that every member of staff is prepared for the event and has their mind completely focused on the task ahead.

In 2015, one of the key growth areas for professional security services was a greater focus on designing a robust, total security solution delivery model for clients, one that integrates technological investment with a well-trained and skilled workforce who are able to operate that technology productively. The Shield Group is in fact the UK’s largest independent total security solutions provider and to demonstrate the company’s commitment to an integrated security model, The Shield Group is the only company to develop a bespoke NVQ Level 5 Customer Care training programme to provide employees with the pre-requisite skills and training needed to delivered an integrated security service model. A total security solution approach will further help to optimise the effectiveness of man guarding practices. The training that is required to utilise the technological advancements that are in place can be extremely time consuming, however it is important that their uses are enhanced. Furthermore, at a time when security and safety in the business place is pivotal and customization of services key to client satisfaction, there will be a further focus on an increasing requirement to extract security services from facilities managed bundled contracts and to adopt innovation at every step of the supply chain, a total security solution offering being one of the innovations in the industry.

The major fiasco that occurred at the Olympics in London, which the security industry is still marred with, resulted in a major UK security firm having to withdraw their deal of providing 10,000 guards to protect the Olympics and a 10% drop in the company’s shares also demonstrated the need for security firms to improve on the efficiency of their security services making sure such errors do not repeat themselves by steering away from the bundle service approach. Instead this should be replaced by the total security solutions approach which allows security services to provide all the security measures needed.

Although technology in the security sector is imperative, it is vital that this is not just for aesthetic purposes. It should be effective technology which provides full security cover of an assignment. The addition of technology often allows for reductions in manpower cover, however the quality of those officers has to be higher as they will have more to manage, therefore it is important to invest in training staff to ensure an effective introduction of the technology.  The first step is seeing the issue arise through CCTV, the next step is being able to act appropriately and efficiently – if this fails to happen then the technology is not being used efficiently and there is very little point in investing in it in the first place.

Recent security threats in the UK, the London riots and other local and international security threats involving Britain, have reiterated the importance for security firms to provide a Total Security Solution service to clients. At a time when security and safety in the business place is pivotal and customization of services key to client satisfaction, it should be understood by all security firms that there is an increasing requirement to extract security services from facilities managed bundled contracts and to adopt innovation at every step of the supply chain.

With an increased reliance on technology, the physical security staff solution has been neglected. It has been proven that having a physical security presence has a drastic impact on crime. For example, the value of CCTV can be visible when combined with good manned guarding, which was demonstrated by the London riots across the UK. London businesses that had guards present on their premises did not lose as much money and stock as those businesses only “protected” by CCTV. There are certain cases where immediate action is required in order to tackle an issue. This means there are cases where CCTV is too slow to sufficiently solve a problem. In cases such as these, it is pivotal that the security staff is well trained and knows the appropriate protocol.

The communication aspect of security is the fundamental foundations to a successful security firm. Officers need to be able to effectively communicate the situation not only with their superiors but also with one and other. This allows a security situation to be handled with care and precision. The use of technology has allowed this process to take place in a smoother fashion. Whilst CCTV and other technology provide security companies with invaluable information to improve our safety, it is the role of well qualified officers who are properly skilled and trained on the latest technology used to protect people from crime and to optimise the success of security services. The use of manpower is expensive but gives a very rapid response and acts as a deterrent to the criminal fraternity. Despite the internet being improved over the last few years and becoming cheaper, faster, clearer and digital it must be put into the context of the risk at hand.

A quality man guarding team operating in a rapidly changing environment with a number of impacting changes, from risk of a terror threat to the rise in public private partnerships, needs to be proactive and adept at working with a number of technological procedures and applications to help them to perform more efficiently. It is vital that security teams are well informed of what they are allowed to implement in terms of security; by employing a total security solutions company, there is no question about what is expected.

Mr John Roddy, Chief Executive, The Shield Group, UK’s largest independent Total Security Solutions company

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