Sarah Phillips

Over the past two years, Covid-19 has caused significant disruption to the way most businesses operate, including those within the security sector. Companies of all sizes across the globe have had to adapt the way in which they operate to survive.

The pandemic has affected the global economy in three key ways: through the direct impact on production and demand, supply chain and market disruption and financial impact on businesses and markets.

As we begin to emerge into a post-COVID world, and normality begins to resume, the enduring effects of the pandemic are yet to unfold. While the security industry is more resilient than most, understanding the repercussions of the pandemic on both short-term goals and long-term ROI will be critical to gaining momentum once more.

As businesses plan their resources for the year ahead, surging prices and supply chain disruptions are pushing costs to their limits, so what is the outlook for businesses operating in the security industry in 2022?

Supply chain challenges

 The ongoing effects of Covid-19 are being felt in many economies. With some regions still in lockdown, while others are progressing into a ‘new normal’, disruptions to the supply chain remain severe. In the UK, this is further compounded by fears of the strength of the supply chain due to the uncertainty of Brexit.

The pandemic has tested the resilience, ingenuity, and flexibility of supply chain leaders. The requirement for rapid decision and immediate action to sustain business operations has never been more vital.

For businesses who have not sufficiently planned, and secured the required raw materials, disappointment is likely in store for clients and workers, as lead times severely lengthen, and products become entirely unavailable.

This is especially true for items where semiconductors or chips are required. There is a huge global shortage for these commodities, affecting all sectors, from cars to washing machines, TVs to mobile phones and everything in between.

While the security industry is more resilient than many, it is certainly not exempt from these challenges. As the disruption across the supply chain causes manufacturing delays and demand that is currently far outweighing supply, prices are swiftly being driven upwards.

The result for security end users will be delays in both system commissioning and repairs. This coupled with increased costs puts additional pressure on already stretched budgets, which could ultimately impact site security.

The key to mitigating the risk of delays and increased costs is to procure early.  This will ensure businesses can continue to serve their clients and protect their workers.

Threat assessment post COVID-19

Covid-19 disrupted labour markets globally during 2020. Short term reactions were sudden, and often severe. Millions were furloughed, many lost their jobs and most others had to rapidly adjust to working from home as workplaces were closed during global lockdowns.

These reactions put significant pressure on sites with manned security teams. In some countries, this shock reaction was also coupled with longer-term labour shortages, putting upward pressure on security guard wages.

In response to this, many sites are investigating the requirement to reduce reliance on manpower, instead investing more in security technology.

It is likely that the way we work will be forever changed because of COVID-19. Improvements to facilitate safe working, such as remote working, social distancing and touch-free access control must be considered with the aim of keeping businesses operational. Security plans will need to be more flexible to accommodate further outbreaks, additional variants, or new restrictions, whilst site security is not compromised. These changes will put increased pressure on CAPEX to reduce ongoing OPEX. All of which puts additional pressure on security managers.

As such, an increased willingness to explore Artificial Intelligence (Ai) is to be expected. Latest generation Ai is embedded in a range of security technology and systems, improving detection capabilities, and reducing nuisance alarms, resulting in increased operator confidence.

From a PIDS perspective, employing systems that benefit from the use of Ai will assist operators by identifying, classifying, and precisely locating any unwanted events or intrusion attempts. This will assist operators to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their response, by ensuring reaction and manual inspections are focused on areas of real activity, rather than false alarms. Reporting by exception only will help in managing and monitoring large sites, with minimal staff required.

With financial recovery and employee safety both key priorities in the aftermath of the pandemic, many are welcoming new capabilities to assist in these crucial areas.

Big Data

 While the term Big Data isn’t new and cloud migration has already been happening at a pace, 2022 will be critical in how organisations, manufacturers, integrators, and end users share data.

A single user interface system is the ‘Holy Grail’ for security. A truly converged system with all aspects of a site’s security, safety and building management available at the touch of a button improves situational awareness, encourages swift response to appropriate events and ultimately improves the safety of organisations, their people, and their assets.

Manufacturers are addressing this requirement, and diligently working to overcome barriers whilst deploying commonly used industry protocols to encourage integration.

The pandemic has pushed more companies to realise the value of moving applications and data to the cloud, and while cloud-based solutions for data storage and processing is rapidly expanding in every industry, security remains a top consideration in relation to adoption.  Big data deployments are valuable targets to would-be intruders, therefore big data security is a constant concern.

2022 will see a drive for more cloud-based solutions in the industry, with the focus on minimising site hardware deployment, cost control and rapid setup and commissioning, however early adoption could be hampered by just one report of a security breach or failure.

Time to Go Green

Global warming is presenting an unparalleled challenge to our planet and as such, the tangible risks can no longer be seen as a distant concern. In response, the conversations on sustainability, carbon neutrality and ecologically responsible practices has extended across several industries. The security industry has been slow to adopt some principles and practices that underly the topic of ‘going green’, but it does have a role to play in this field.

Historically, the manufacturing process has been heavily dependent on PVC, semiconductors, and electronics. From access control readers to CCTV cameras, there has never been a substantial or sustained drive to use recycled or biodegradable materials.

With increasing numbers of socially conscious end-users searching for more environmentally friendly options and companies adding a sustainability requirement to their tenders, both manufacturers and installers are carefully considering how they can alter their production, distribution and commissioning processes in a quest for carbon-neutrality.

Following on from COP26, eco-friendly security solutions are likely to soon be mandated. As such, manufacturers must adapt their processes, policies, and procedures to facilitate reduced environmental impact.

Author: Mark Horton, Vice President