The early stages of the reopening of the British economy are underway following the Government’s announcement in mid-May that some people could return to work if they were unable to work from home. Workers in manufacturing and construction are among the first to return to the workplace, with other industries on standby. Should the data from the easing of the lockdown allow it, other businesses are gearing up to reopen at the start of July.

Security has a pivotal role to play in mitigating the risk of infection and contamination as people return to the workplace. However, before exploring that, I want to highlight the fantastic work that the industry has been doing throughout this crisis.

Security officers

Security officers across the country have demonstrated the importance of their work time and again in recent weeks. Even when offices and shops have been closed, security personnel have been going about their usual duties in protecting assets and securing premises.

At Amulet, part of our business continuity planning had been to prepare for possible staff shortages, but the commitment of our teams to carry on with their roles has been amazing. But as workplaces start to become occupied again, officers will face new challenges which we all need to be ready for.

Officers will face new challenges which we all need to be ready for

Security officers are often the people that process the entrance and exits to buildings. This will now need to be done with social distancing in mind. Each workplace and building might have a slightly different set up in terms of how they will address social distancing, including tape on the ground to measure 2-metre distances, rope to help enforce one-way systems, and the opening of additional entrances and exits to a building.

Checking temperatures

Officers may also be responsible for checking the temperature of occupants as they enter using hand-held scanners, and for signing people in and out of a building to reduce the need for each person to come into contact with a logbook or touch-screen visitor management system.

While it’s hoped that the vast majority of people will understand and respect the need for new systems, this is a stressful time for everyone and tempers can get frayed. Officers must be trained on how to manage confrontation.

For example, a company may state that anyone with a temperature over 38.5 degrees cannot enter the building. An occupant might measure a fraction over and ask that they be allowed to enter. Security officers will need to be strict in reinforcing the rules and how to remove someone from a building if they do not comply. This could be a delicate situation so a strong relationship between security staff and the client is essential.

Security as brand ambassadors

This goes alongside the continued role of security officers as brand ambassadors. This is arguably even more important now as officers still need to be just as welcoming and helpful when working within the new restrictions.

Just as important as officers looking after building occupants is that employers look after their officers. Even with social distancing, they are going to come into closer contact with more people than most professions, and will also be using high-risk touchpoints more frequently, such as door handles and reception areas.

We fully expect face masks to become a requirement for buildings

We fully expect face masks to become a requirement for buildings, whether that’s from government advice or the decision of individual businesses. As such, we have supplied full plastic visors to all of our security personnel as well as other PPE. We’re also regularly communicating with teams to remind them on best practice for the safe use and maintenance of PPE.

PPE and security

Even before this crisis started any PPE that we issued was accompanied by full training and a sign off procedure. It’s a vital step in being able to track the usage of equipment and making sure that it’s being used appropriately.

It’s important to communicate with clients about PPE too – depending on the sector, clients may have different reactions to the need for PPE.

The rail clients we work with are by nature more risk-averse and so are fully on board with security officers wearing PPE. They are doing everything they can to improve safety and hygiene in a high footfall environment.

With other clients it may take a little more education and encouragement, especially around understanding HSE guidance. It’s understandable that some clients may think a full plastic visor is overboard for a small office building; this is again where having a strong relationship will be so beneficial. Getting clients on board will make it easier for them to communicate to building occupants about the security protocols in place, and why they have been implemented.

The challenge of retail

Crowds will need to be very carefully managed and stores will have to work together to maintain social distancing

One sector that might be particularly challenging for security personnel is retail, especially shopping centres. Crowds will need to be very carefully managed and stores will have to work together to maintain social distancing outside of their doors. But the same basic principles will apply – wearing PPE, educating clients on HSE guidelines and agreeing on and enforcing social distancing measures.

High-end boutique shops bring their own challenges. While security officers will not have to deal with high footfall, they will need to balance the enforcement of security measures with the requirement of providing a welcoming experience to customers keen to spend after months of lockdown.

It’s likely that some potential customers will be wearing face masks, which would usually be a huge red flag for an officer at a luxury retail boutique. Now, they’ll have to judge the situation in a completely different way with the worry of losing a big sale if the customer doesn’t get the welcome they expect. As always, security personnel must work on this with the client to agree on what procedures to follow.

The role of security in mitigating the risk as businesses reopen cannot be understated. With so much to consider, conversations with clients must start now to ensure that everything is in place for when the time comes.

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Darren Read Managing Director, Amulet

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Thermal cameras and smart cities: Preventing COVID-19 in public places
Thermal cameras and smart cities: Preventing COVID-19 in public places

With the pandemic still in full swing and no certainty as to when exactly it will come to an end, the world has been battling anxiety for months now. And with each day, circumstances change quickly and almost make it impossible to predict what will happen next, how events will unfold, and what actions to take in light of a new situation. But one thing is certain: the world has been shut down and paralysed for way too long, and the eventual reopening is unavoidable – in fact, it’s well under way. In this situation, what is possible to control is how the world will continue reopening – and specifically, how to ensure the safest possible reopening that will ensure the return of some degree of normalcy to people’s lives and business operations, while also managing the risk of COVID’s spread in the most efficient way. 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This “collaborative security” application includes a synthesis of smart video analytics, facial recognition, object identification/detection, and thermal cameras that can support the reopening of businesses globally when installed within those facilities frequented by customers. With such a level of sophistication that can ensure uninterrupted monitoring and analysis of large public spaces, these AI technologies can ideally operate best as cloud solutions to ensure a collaborative network with maximum scalability and widespread implementation. As these technologies increase in ubiquity and find their way into daily operations of businesses globally, the cost of the smart solutions will decrease proportionally to the growth of their reach. There are some highly specific ways to create this collaborative network of interconnected safety tools in the current climate. Here are some applications that have been successful to date and will increase in usability in the foreseeable future, creating “smart cities” working together towards a safer, more secure world. Maintaining social distancing practices The most important step everyone around the world has taken to contribute to the effort of slowing the spread of the virus has been social distancing. A six-foot-distance has become a new social norm that has quickly been adopted globally and become a habit to people who are naturally used to being close to others and socialising without giving distance a second thought. The star of the past decade has been artificial intelligence So, it is natural that such distancing measures take time to get accustomed to – and it is also natural that individuals may forget about them from time to time. To help maintain the six-foot distance between people at all times and give them slight nudges to keep the rule top of their minds, AI video technology can be trained to estimate the distance between individuals in public and commercial areas and identify the cases in which people get too close to each other. By notifying local merchants or authorities about such cases, the system can help ensure the safety of everyone in the area at all times while positively reinforcing the public to gradually get more accustomed to maintaining the distance and thus helping stop the spread of the virus. Detecting the virus through facial recognition Perhaps the straightforward application of such high-level technology is using video surveillance to identify persons of interest who have tested positive for the virus. 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Why cloud-enabled physical security must be part of your long-term digital strategy
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COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown saw an unprecedented demand for cloud-enabled technologies across Europe. Such services enabled people to stay connected and allowed some businesses to relocate personnel and continue to operate successfully. With enterprise-focused video conferencing mobile app downloads showing a weekly 90% increase in comparison to pre-COVID-19 figures, it’s clear that cloud services have proven invaluable in these challenging times. Now, as the benefits to business of cloud technology become apparent, and the grip of COVID-19 begins to loosen, senior decision makers must consider the learnings from the past few months and look to apply them to boost productivity, streamline costs or become more agile in the long term. Digital transformation presents some enticing advantages for those companies that have been slow to adapt. 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Facial recognition: Contactless solutions for a safe, post-pandemic world
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As a workforce management tool, facial recognition helps preserve the health of employees checking into work, while providing management with an infallible means of documenting employee time and attendance while providing a detailed history of overall workforce activity and individual personnel tracking. Both of which have been longstanding challenges due to easily compromised time tracking systems and practices. Now, nothing is left to question based on hard data. With the growing popularity of facial recognition technology, there are many choices already available with more undoubtedly on the way. Selecting the right solution for your specific access control and/or workforce management application is dependent on a very wide range of variables. But there are a few core characteristics that you should look for when evaluating facial recognition readers. 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Ambient lighting contains ultraviolet rays which can negate near infrared LED lighting, and can also cast shadows making it difficult for a facial recognition reader to pinpoint the facial recognition points required for identification and authentication. Three-dimensional pixel intensity distribution analysis minimises the effects of ambient light when acquiring facial images by minimising lighting contrasts. As a result, it is easier for the algorithm to recognise the shape of the face, enabling it to extract more facial features and create higher quality face templates, which are critical for accurate facial recognition. Functional ergonomics This results in a faster, more comfortable, and convenient user experience The angle and position of a facial recognition reader directly impact the performance of the unit. 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