Armed and ready

Nine ways technology is impacting your manned security force


6. Technology empowers security officers to make decisions. Technologies can make companies and institutions more secure largely by providing better information about security threats and events to enable security officers to respond. However, real-time response by a human being is the desired outcome of even today's latest technology innovations. In effect, the technology provides information that empowers the security officer to make decisions to ensure a company's security. As first responders, security officers should clearly be recognized as a critical element of any security system.

7. Technology enables officers to be more active. Video cameras can put additional "eyes" on possible security threats, and a qualified and attentive officer must be available to respond if something happens. However, sitting passively in front of a bank of video monitors waiting for something to happen may not be the best use of an officer's time. Video can extend the "range" of an officer's attention, but only if it makes that usable information available to the officer without interfering with his or her other duties. Thanks to technology, he or she can be patrolling a site instead of watching a roomful of video monitors. In case of an alarm, he or she can still have access to video on a handheld device.

8. Technology increases officers' responsibilities. A benefit of the greater productivity made possible by an overarching approach encompassing both manpower and technology is to broaden the effectiveness and responsibilities of security officers. Technology provides greater efficiencies while equipping officers to perform multiple functions related to security, safety and facilities. The patrol of a security officer can be a value-added activity for a company's business. In the future, a CEO will perceive a security officer as a strategic part of his business.

9. Technology helps to boost the stature of the occupation. The job of security officer is changing, and not just because of technology development but in response to other factors as well - especially the changing needs of the enterprise. The security officer can play an expanded role now, thus providing more value working in tandem with technology. Moving forward, security officers will be required to have the skills needed to perform a higher-level job. They will also bear the increased responsibility inherent in the productivity improvement made possible by using more effective tools. In the process, the job of security officer becomes much more important to an employer; and the ever-widening role helps to boost the stature of the occupation in general.

Security Officers of Tomorrow

The skills needed by security officers deployed at reception areas are very different than the skills needed by officers deployed in high-risk, high-consequence environments. Therefore, to a large extent, the "job" of security officer will continue to reflect various levels of responsibility and varieties of duties that are specific to a certain market sector or even an individual company. In the same way that specific types of technology are favored by various market sectors, multiple levels and types of security officer expertise will continue to be in demand. The application rules - whether you are selecting security personnel or security technology.

For providers of contract security officers, the best approach to meeting this diversity of market needs is a tiered officer program that provides manpower consisting of trained experts in specific market sectors such as government, real estate, corporate campus, chemical/petrochemical and healthcare. Such an approach ensures that officers are recruited, trained and compensated based on the needed skills in specialized areas.

A Holistic Approach

The arbitrary separation of security officers and security technology in the minds of industry professionals has evolved more based on historic market forces than on the needs of the enterprise. For today's companies and institutions, security, risk mitigation, disaster preparedness, etc. are goals. Technology and manpower are both tools to get there. Effective security demands a holistic approach incorporating both.

Companies need a range of tools - including manpower and technology - that work together effectively and efficiently. Ultimately, products must be designed to fulfill the information needs of the workforce, and security officers must be trained to get the most value out of the technologies. It is critical to have a properly trained, customized force of officers to carry out the objectives of security by using the best technology has to offer.

Drew Levine is president of G4S Secure Solutions.