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Preparing for the New Normal in Security

The security industry, has an opportunity to innovate and push forward to enable a “new normal” 

By Ed Batchelor
Ed Batchelor, PSP, Regional Vice President, Guidepost Solutions

There have been myriad watershed moments in the security industry over the years, but some stand out more clearly than others. An obvious example is 9/11. The COVID-19 pandemic will certainly be remembered as one of those moments as well. Although 9/11 and COVID-19 aren’t the same type of disasters, they present a similar challenge for the workforce: confidence that it is once again safe to be in the office. And for the security industry, both situations offer an opportunity to innovate and push forward to enable a “new normal.”

Technology has long been security’s answer to various problems, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. This unprecedented situation will create demand and impetus to fast-track things like touchless mobile security technology as well as rigorous screening setups at workplaces. But in an era where technology and privacy are increasingly at odds, a careful balance must be struck. Integrators, consultants and end users will need to thoroughly vet manufacturer partners deploying COVID-19 solutions as many of them are new enhancements with limited historical testing results. Each organization will need to balance its operations, employee privacy and workplace safety goals with return to work solutions that provide peace of mind for employees.

Horse Before the Cart

It’s tempting to jump straight to implementing new technology to remove the need to touch doors for access or to automate previously manual processes, but without a clear plan in place first, technology won’t do much good. The reality is that, in the short term, there will need to be increases in security manpower required to tackle enhanced screening and employee testing as well as to re-open facilities and ensure adoption of new policies. Careful planning and vetting of available solutions are the only ways to facilitate a relatively smooth return to “normal” work conditions.

Betting on Technology

Once the framework for safely and responsibly implementing new technology is in place, end users will need our help to determine what technology will make a real difference for workplace safety.

Contact tracing via access control and video surveillance is a good place to start for any workplace. With new reports and alerts, an access control system presents an effective way to determine where a person who has self identified as being potentially exposed to the virus has been throughout a building. The more readers in a building, the more granular the reporting. The reports can go further to determine who else used those readers or was in the same areas during a specified time frame to create a detailed picture of who else may have been exposed.

Social distancing analytics dovetail nicely with the new contact tracing features. Access control systems can keep detailed statistics on occupancy, such as the number of employees in a particular building or area to ensure it meets state, local and business requirements. Taken a step further, access can be gated once the occupancy limit is reached.

Ready-to-work apps may provide a quick way to verify the health of employees. A self-administered screening test can be required before employees are granted access to a building. This and the above solutions can also be combined with on-site temperature screening for an added layer of certainty.

It’s still early days in what will be a long journey of returning to work and achieving a “new normal.” It’s not yet entirely clear which security solutions will provide the best results, for the most workplaces. It’s incumbent on us to explore and vet all the options to provide our customers with the safest workplaces we can.

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