Case Study - A Change In Approach - Manned Guarding To Remote Monitoring

The lockdown has changed the way security is delivered to sites across the UK. Read how one property management firm in south London switched from manned guarding to a remote monitoring option to protect their site.

The Challenge

A property management firm in south London was faced with a number of operational challenges to secure their building and assets as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions from the UK-wide lockdown. Faced with these issues they approached Corps Security, as their incumbent security partner, for our guidance and support. Corps usually provides guards to secure their site.

The offices are home to several independent businesses, some of which were providing essential services although operating with reduced staff.  As the restrictions increased it became clear that the building would need to be locked down and an alternative security model put in place.

Corps Security conducted a risk assessment of the site, in consultation with the property manager, the existing security equipment maintainer and our own security site-based team. We identified several appropriate options that would address their specific demands.

Our Solution

The existing building and fire alarm systems were easily enhanced by adding a simple and inexpensive alarms transmission unit, which communicates all alerts to our state-of-the art NSI Gold Accredited Cat II monitoring centre in Scotland, allowing the critical systems to be remotely monitored.

There was already an existing CCTV system that was used to record locally onto a DVR recorder. Through the existing maintenance firm, we arranged to have this connected to our monitoring centre over a broadband connection on a secure VPN. This, combined with the existing building sensors, enabled us to provide a robust sensor-activated security solution.

In addition to securing the building itself, during the initial assessment of the site the property manager mentioned that his own staff would need occasional access to the building along with cleaning and maintenance staff. An existing swipe card access system was already in place and, in partnership with the maintenance firm, we were able to configure secure remote access to the site controlling the doors remotely through our monitoring centre. An inexpensive Voice Over IP (VoIP) intercom with camera was added to the main entrance and we agreed several protocols to ensure secure access. As an emergency back-up, we installed a remotely-monitored, Bluetooth-enabled key safe on the external wall of the building to cater for any failure of the door access system. The Secured by Design product is  olice and Insurance Association approved.

In order to protect the staff visiting the building, who could be classified as lone workers in the current environment, they were issued with our Corps/Zonith remotely-monitored Personal Protection and Positioning System app. It’s installed on their mobile phones and protection is enhanced with an ID badge holder with an integrated panic button. This links back to our monitoring system and ensures that if they had an accident while on site, or were under threat, they could alert our monitoring centre.

The Business Benefits

By designing an holistic and integrated solution that addressed the specific demands of the site, the building was protected from any potential incident – intruder, fire, flood or serious incident.

The proactive monitoring solution could be efficiently escalated using verified evidence to the emergency services or key holders alongside Corps Security’ own mobile response teams.

Other options

Prior to confirmation that the maintenance firm could attend the site, alternative solutions were considered including Corps Security supplying a 4G GSM transmission unit with in-built Sim card, passive infra-red sensors and smoke/heat detectors. An ideal solution for buildings without existing monitored intruder or fire alarm systems, the device is plugged into a power socket and also houses an internal battery backup with the power availability also monitored remotely.

In parallel, a plug-and-play 4G router option is also available where a maintainer is unable to connect an existing DVR to a monitored broadband line due to the current movement restrictions. This solution securely transmits live sensor-activated CCTV footage to the Corps monitoring centre in the event of a trigger from an existing sensor, intruder or fire alarm system.

All the systems detailed provide a solid foundation for providing secure remotely-monitored electronic security solutions which Corps Security has the in-house expertise to scale to enterprise-level nationally.

We’ve set up a dedicated coronavirus support team to answer any questions about the impact of coronavirus on your business. Please contact us on covid19@corpssecurity.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help.

2020 represents the start of a new year and a new decade. But how will the next decade be different to the last? Change can be scary, but it can also be positive. Corps Security embraces change because it pushes to improve as a business and develop in line with our customer’s evolving needs. Last year saw huge trends emerge in technology-led services, civil unrest and other threats, and security officer requirements.

Here are the changes that Corps believes will shape the security industry over the next decade.

A hybrid model

If security companies invest wisely in both technology and their people, they can create a hybrid business model that helps customers to maintain the highest standards while lowering their costs.

New state-of-the-art technology will make customers safer and more efficient. The savings made from these efficiencies can then be reinvested back into the business to upskill colleagues and attract and retain the best talent.

There are challenges. Brexit is likely to impact the labour pool availability and the 6.2% National Minimum Wage increase has stretched the financial budget within organisations, thus affecting the security industry’s margins. However, endorsing this pay increase shows organisations are actively trying to support lower income households, as well as help to attract, retain and train the best talent to create a workforce that is happier, more engaged, and more effective. At Corps, we are always looking for new ways to work smarter. We aim to pay staff well in a positive, tech-savvy and supportive working environment.

Formatting a hybrid solution offers the best of both worlds between technology and traditional security. Moving to a blended model can make the most of the budget and help everyone work smarter to achieve great results.

Research into facial recognition surged in 2019. It’s a great example of how technology and security are merging to make people safer – though ‘grey areas’ around ethics, privacy and usage still need to be addressed in order for there to be clearer terms, facial recognition can be used to protect locations and people involved. Whatever changes service providers make to their business will have an undeniable effect on clients and it’s important to have them front of mind during any process of change.

The evolving role of a security officer

Front-of-house will play an important part in manned guarding provisions with security officers now doubling up as brand ambassadors. Security officers may act as a first point of contact for the public, for example manning a reception desk or giving directions at the entrance to an office building. The use of technology in terrorism has also meant officers need to be upskilled so that they can react to such situations to keep people safe. The recent assassination of Iran’s Qasem Soleimani by drone highlights both the evolving nature of security threats and the danger if this type of technology were to one day fall into the wrong hands.

Civil unrest

2020 predictions can be hard to pinpoint, so much can happen in a small space of time. However, 2019 suggests security providers should pre-empt and plan for civil unrest to grow in an ever more complex and evolving society. This is no more apparent than in political and environmental public opinion, with several Brexit and Extinction Rebellion protests having taken place in recent months. These demonstrations show a growing public voice and whilst it isn’t something to criticise, things can easily get out of hand. For Corps, that means being cautious and communicating with our city-based customers to ensure they too are mindful of the impact of civil unrest.

There will be curveballs thrown in 2020, as we’ve seen with the recent coronavirus outbreak, but with developed business models, continuous and efficient communication and a greater understanding of technology, the security industry can prepare for these challenges, ensuring clients, staff and the public are safe.

The new face of manned guarding

The uncertainty around the recent election, the rising cost of labour, civil unrest and protests, and an uncertain situation in Iran after the US assassination of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani have compounded to place pressure on the security industry. The industry is of vital importance; crime costs UK businesses about £9 billion a year. Despite this risk, the demand on the industry to provide services with ever tighter margins is high. However, this is a sector which, by it’s very nature, is highly agile. It is rising to meet these challenges and a new model for manned guarding is emerging in those leading the sector into the coming decade.

The UK is suffering a chronic shortage of skilled labour, a growing concern for the security profession. In addition, the National Minimum Wage is set to rise 6.5% from April, adding to financial pressures. An increased Living Wage also squeezes the bottom line and will continue to do so with an unprecedented rise of 6.2% announced for April. This increase of more than four times the inflation rate will also leave employers less to invest in other aspects of their business or require that they take on fewer members of staff. These statutory changes present significant knock on effects for the businesses as staff costs increase considerably. 14% of the UK labour force in the FM sector as a whole is from the European Economic Area (EEA).  Already, we are seeing significant drops in migrant worker numbers and with Brexit upon us, it is not a far stretch of the imagination to see these numbers falling further still. Not only is finding talent a real challenge, retaining it can also be difficult; because of the pressure on margins and pay, security professionals will move on to another employer for a small increase in pay. With long-term familiarity with sites being such a valuable asset in a security officer, retention demands attention.

The industry is starting to tackle these issues with the help of technological advances. Manned guarding is far from losing its place in the security matrix but, when applied alongside technology, it can now be carried out far more efficiently. A combination of the latest security technology with experienced security officers can provide considerable savings for organisations.  Having an officer onsite 27/4 can cost an average of £120,000 per year. By transferring some manned guarding responsibilities to the latest technologies, organisations can make savings and enhance the reliability and resilience of their security. They can reinvest these savings back into their security function by improving security officers’ salaries, benefits and working conditions to increase their motivation and engagement, reducing churn.

Few security specialists offer both manned guarding and a technology solution. In doing so, they miss the opportunity to create this powerful combination of people and technological security, designed to work optimally together, all at a single point of contact. This simplifies invoicing and administration, in turn reducing costs further.

Manned guarding is – and will be for the foreseeable future – an important means of providing security in a world of evolving threats. It provides a visual deterrent to crime, and an immediate on-site response to any issues. However, with clients unwilling or unable to pay rising costs, the industry must use innovative means of tackling the novel threats that worry all those running an organisation, including theft, terrorism, and cyber security. The use of technology alongside manned guarding is a model for the security sector in an era of seemingly indiscriminate terrorist threats, political turmoil, and cyber security issues. It is an approach to technology that places clients at the heart and ensures every penny of their money is invested into having the greatest possible benefit on their organisation.