The word "system" is often used to describe how security technologies work together. However, just as a group of elements interacting forms a complex whole, a security system is more than just a collection of hardware and software - it is also the individuals tasked with operating, monitoring and maintaining that equipment. A true definition of a security system includes both technology and manpower. Today, the rapid advancements and evolutions of the available technology have a significant impact on the manpower needs of the user.
How is security technology changing the manpower needs of our industry? The immediate answer is "more than most people consider." Too often, game-changing technologies such as video analytics and networked systems are introduced into the mix without enough consideration to their impact on the individuals who operate the equipment. In practical terms, it is time to realize that just investing in technology is not enough to achieve security excellence. We often see businesses that have spent significantly on technology, but there has been a disconnect with their security officers and other personnel. It is imperative that it all be tied together.
Here are nine ways technology is impacting security officers and helping to expand their role in the enterprise:
1. Technology provides new tools. We know that one key to a quality security and safety program is to give security officers the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. In the past, the tools used by a security officer have often been limited to a guard tour device, a two-way radio, a flashlight and keys. Before the advent of the current electronic tools, there was often limited communication, and incident reporting required paperwork and relied heavily on memory. Critical information was not shared effectively. In contrast, today's technology tools make security officers much more productive.
2. Technology serves as a force multiplier. Using technology to extend and enhance the reach of a protection system beyond security officers acting alone can impact a business's risk factors in a positive way. Advances in wireless and advanced video enable security officers to accomplish much more. Officers now have access to more information, often using hand-held devices. The information must be presented in a way that is understandable and actionable by the security officers, and their interface with systems should be as simple as possible so as not to interfere with important duties.
3. Technology enables real-time response. Today's security officer must respond in real-time based on information at his or her fingertips. Technology captures and reports incidents immediately, and response can also be immediate. Many sectors, including commercial facilities, educational institutions and critical infrastructure sites such as ports and chemical facilities, are investing in video surveillance, access control, video analytics and even command-and-control centers because they need to respond quickly to incidents and crises.
4. Technology requires security officers to have more skills. Today's security officers must also have the skills to operate communications and security systems effectively. Security officers have historically been recruited from accomplished backgrounds in law enforcement and military service. Choosing candidates with these credentials helps to promote professionalism. The latest technologies often emphasize ease of use, but officers also need a level of competency to interact with them.
5. Technology makes top-notch training critical. Now more than ever, personnel training should be designed to provide the customized skill sets security officers need to interface effectively with technology and to expand their duties to better leverage the efficiency advantages of innovation. Training is essential to get the best efficiencies from a security force, and from the tools and technologies they use to do their jobs. Without training, you have a corps of officers who cannot optimize the return on investment (ROI) possible with current state-of-the-industry solutions.