By Rodrigue Zbinden, CEO Morphean.
Looks at how understanding and using occupancy data to support operational decision making is key to helping banks re-open their doors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges across all industries. From a customer perspective, retail banks have been able to continue to operate online, thanks to mobile apps and cloud connectivity providing customers with full access to their accounts remotely. However, it is the investment banks and wealth management companies that have suffered as a result of lockdown, and now need to ensure that large numbers of staff can safely return to work. Considerations must be given to the necessary steps required to create a safe environment in which this will be possible.
Hygiene and social distancing measures will surely be at the top of any priority list. Banks are under pressure to monitor all aspects of health and safety while continuing to offer the same high levels of professionalism and reliability. With management no doubt looking with interest at the tactics employed by those providers of essential services who have remained open throughout the pandemic, it is apparent that, alongside the safeguarding of people, banks must also factor high levels of security into any solution.
Gaining insights, unlocking intelligence
In comparison to the dated CCTV technology and manned access points of the past, modern security solutions have many capabilities, both from a security and business perspective. Cloud-connected network cameras are designed to provide high-quality surveillance video, both externally for perimeter protection and internally, for real-time monitoring. Used in conjunction with access control systems, video can provide a second factor of identification, granting access where positive identification is made, through a system that it more trustworthy than access cards or keypads alone.
In addition, today’s network cameras and access control systems, linked via the internet of things (IoT) produce data that can be analysed in the cloud to generate powerful insights. This information can be used to inform a variety of business decisions, particularly in an environment where staff move freely around premises. Data about the most often frequented or congested areas can play a vital part in finding a solution, within the current climate, to streamline operations while minimising risk from a health and safety perspective.
Effective people management
Using this technology to determine, control and measure occupancy levels can prove invaluable in the transition from lockdown towards a ‘new normal’, and beyond. Understanding and being able to respond to occupancy data is an important part of not only improving onsite security and situational awareness, but is also integral to ensuring high standards of service, resourcing tasks appropriately and maintaining a secure environment.
Through the use of sensors placed at entrance and exit points, staff numbers can be effectively monitored, with downward placement ensuring GDPR compliance by performing a head count rather than identifying individuals. In addition, frictionless access control mechanisms ensure a fast and hands-free method of admitting staff to the premises, using surveillance cameras, QR codes, or mobile phone identification to avoid touching keypads, manned gates, or other procedures that will delay staff and cause unnecessary queue ‘bottlenecks’ at entranceways or on stairwells.
Audio equipment, connected to the surveillance system through simple IoT plug and play connectivity, can be used to issue messages, either pre-recorded or live in real-time, to remind staff of the importance of maintaining a safe distance from each other. In addition, failure to comply with social distancing regulations can trigger an automated alert which plays a warning message while simultaneously making security personnel aware of the situation, so that appropriate action can be taken as required.
Taking a long term view
With a greater need for the banking industry to be able to guarantee staff safety in the current climate, it’s also necessary to take a long range view of business decision making, in which data around occupancy, combined with surveillance and access control information can play an important role. This data can be used to prove that a bank has taken appropriate measures, providing documented evidence of full compliance. Systems can be made bespoke and tailored specifically for the bank’s requirements from site to site.
While of great benefit in these changing times, intelligent occupancy should not be viewed purely as a tool for a crisis, but as a mechanism for encouraging the right behaviours at the right time. As an example, in relation to retail banking, greater visibility results in the ability to coordinate operations across branches and, ultimately, to serve the customer better. It’s increasingly likely that awareness of proximity to others, and a need to minimise infection risks will become an ongoing concern in the absence of a Covid-19 vaccine. Businesses should therefore look to have the technologies in place that will afford them a better understanding of the use of their space, and movement within it.
Remote management and diagnostics
To minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection, it’s vital to ensure that only those personnel who are absolutely necessary for day to day operations are on site. Remote monitoring and operational insights can be managed virtually via tablet or mobile, removing any need to enter the premises. Again, this has applications across all areas of banking, from checking that staff in a large investment bank are following hand washing procedures, to monitoring a number of high street branches to ensure correct social distancing of customers and customer-facing staff.
Such a system is also useful for coordinating onsite activity that sits outside of regular day to day business operations, yet necessitates decision making around how best to manage people. Examples include a fire drill in which staff need to be safely evacuated, or the transit of cash, during which an armoured truck and guard will arrive at the premises to deposit or remove money from the branch. These situations will require some planning as to how best to safeguard people while also continuing to follow all of the expected security protocols. Technology can help in any decision-making process.
A trusted solution for ongoing support
Partnering with a trusted physical security provider can deliver a future proof system that’s capable of helping the banking industry to face the many challenges of today and tomorrow. A pay-per-use business model means that systems can be easily scaled up or down in accordance with customer requirements, while monthly recurring payments remove the need for large upfront capital expenditure. Regular software updates and firmware upgrades result in a solution that is always online and always up to date, providing the very highest levels of security and surveillance, while also unlocking many operational and business benefits. Such systems can play an essential part in intelligent operations management, keeping the banking industry one step ahead in a changing world.