Comment: High quality human resources remain a key factor in building security
By Sangeetha B, deputy CEO of Al Fajer FM
From sheltering ourselves from the elements to defending our communities from enemies behind fortifications, are there any more basic expectations we have historically had from our buildings, than being safe and secure within them? This importance we place on security is a primal need that continues to this day. Nevertheless, building security is a facilities management function that often gets taken for granted. The workforces and processes that ensure our safety typically only come to the attention of tenants when something goes wrong or performance is below acceptable standards. Despite this, few building services are as critical or leave as little room for error.
The possible downsides of an unsatisfactory performance in securing buildings are potentially so negative, that the only permissible scenario is delivering the highest quality in service standards at all times, without exception. What complicates these expectations is the fact that the function involves a complex interplay between technology and human resources. Despite great strides in the digitisation of security tools and processes, it remains a task that is heavily reliant on workforces. Effective security operations must pair the best available technologies, with thoroughly well trained staff, who are well versed with the intricacies of their duties, as well as the specifics of the buildings and spaces they are securing. An ever-evolving function within the FM industry, security is currently adopting a new generation of innovations, in order to perform with impeccable reliability, while remaining unobtrusive and behind the scenes.
Well-trained and motivated workforces are the backbone of building security
Although access control, monitoring and surveillance are a critical aspect of the function, it’s the ability to respond to onsite incidents and perceived threats that translates to the effective provision of security. Whether as a deterrent or an active engagement, it is eventually the actions of a well-organised workforce that secures built assets and their occupants. The challenges that the modern workforce faces include:
• Balancing effectiveness with being unobtrusive: We are witnessing a multiplication of threats, along with a concurrent emphasis on seamless customer experiences. Despite the more complex security environment that personnel are expected to be prepared to deal with, they are also required to do so with minimal interference in the activities of building occupants.
• Ability to deploy rapidly: From terrorism to violent activism, a disturbing trend of the use of disruption as a political tool has emerged. Security personnel are now required to be well versed in procedures that allow them to respond rapidly to emerging threats and coordinate with dispersed teams.
• Being consistent with great customer service: Security personnel are a ubiquitous part of customer facing operations. One of the key value additions they provide to any facilities management operation is their customer service. Security workforces need to be skilled in being able to engage with tenants politely when addressing their concerns and queries, as well as being able to deal with stressed individuals and groups, in the event of an incident.
• Enhanced team coordination and ongoing training: As a function that relies heavily on well-coordinated teamwork, building security requires its workforces to be disciplined, well integrated, continuously upskilled and frequently assessed. Ongoing processes and committed teams are essential to ensuring that high standards in security services are maintained in the course of every operations, as well as emergencies.
Effectively leveraging the potential of emerging technologies will continue to rely on high quality human resources
Anyone who has visited a modern airport will have witnessed the steadily escalating role of technology, in the security industry. Over the last decade or more the ability to scan passengers and their baggage, has evolved rapidly, in keeping with evolving threats. Fewer people witness the evolution in urban surveillance first hand, but identifying threats in our cities has undergone an equivalent transformation. Manual observation of CCTV networks is being replaced by algorithms that monitor video streams in real time, to identify any deviation from the norm that could compromise security. City-wide networks and AI algorithms are allowing security operations to gain a real time and granular view of the buildings and spaces they are securing.
From artificial intelligence to biometrics, drones, sensors and advanced scanners, technology is empowering the security industry like never before. So do these giant strides in technology imply that security is now largely dependent on technology? Well, yes and no. Accurate and immediate assessment of risk and threat is the key to effective security and human intervention continues to be the best means to ensure this. Steps that facilities managers should take, to ensure that their security teams can make the most of tech innovations in their industry include:
• Up-to-date skilling and accreditation: Highly targeted training courses have been created, in order to give security personnel the best chance to perform their tasks in sync with emerging requirements. The days of a brief background check, a license and company orientation program being adequate preparation for security staff are long gone. Facilities management companies are actively engaging with these new standards, as the industry evolves.
• Familiarity with back-end processes: Digital scanning, biometrics and instant background checks have replaced manual log book entries and other equivalent procedures for many years now. However, back-end processing of the data being procured using these means is getting more integrated and complex every day. Security personnel need to be well versed in procedure to use their new tools effectively and this means additional ongoing training is a must.
• Effective use of workforce management tools: Dependable workflows and consistent processes are more critical to security than many realize. The modern security workforces depend on their ability to conform to work practices, standards and regulations consistently, and all personnel need to be well trained in the use of digital management tools.
The human factor remains the critical arbiter of quality in security
As technology advances, it is tempting for security personnel to become overly dependent on it, but many negative outcomes result from unexpected sources or out of the ordinary circumstances. As threats and vulnerabilities evolve, technology will remain a solution that is developed in response to them. Snap decisions made by security personnel are often still the most crucial element in ensuring the highest standards of service.
While technologies associated with building security are evolving dramatically, the most critical cog of the function remains well-trained and committed workforces.