Behind the Shield-February 2020

The Coronavirus Pandemic: Is Your Organization Ready?

Image for Coronavirus Pandemic PostRecent pandemics, such as the Ebola virus, bird flu and others, have revealed many vulnerabilities in our ability to prepare for the effects of a large-scale pandemic. When epidemics begin overseas, as the coronavirus has, we watch it with a detached, “hope it doesn’t get here” mentality.

China’s attempt to lock down the travel of 11 million people to contain a virus that has already killed nearly 1,000 (as of this writing) and sickened thousands has only been partially successful.

Cases have already been reported outside of mainland China, including in the U.S. No doubt many more are coming.

The situation with the new coronavirus, officially known as 2019-nCoV, is rapidly changing. Things are so fast-moving that it may already be out of date. But, as with any pandemic, there are three key strategies to mitigate threats to personnel, security and operations:

  • Stay informed
  • Develop a plan
  • Prepare for contingencies

Stay Informed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is confirming new cases of this sometimes-deadly respiratory disease almost daily. As this is being written, the CDC has told travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to China, while monitoring possible coronavirus cases in 26 U.S. states.

We recommend monitoring authoritative sources, such as the CDC and other government health agencies. Please do not give credence to unknown sources on social media, which can spread disinformation and panic.

Plan and Prepare

Some actions are obvious: curtail all corporate travel to areas where cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed, and urge employees to take the same medical and health precautions they would to guard against the flu or any serious, contagious disease.

Beyond that, make plans that you’ll hopefully never have to implement, including:

  • Develop policies and operations to screen and identify potentially infected individuals before they enter your building, campus or area.
  • Prepare contingency plans in case key personnel are sick and unavailable, such as cross-training other employees.
  • Prepare contingency plans to ensure the continuation of key operations, such as cross-training or moving resources.
  • Educate employees about the symptoms of the coronavirus.
  • Ensure that possibly sick employees stay home to lower the risk of infecting others.

If your organization already has existing security or business continuity plans, review and update them as new information about the coronavirus and its spread develops. Even plans that were developed just a few years ago may no longer be up to date. We know more about the spread of disease than we did before. We also have new security and access-control technology available.

Whether security is provided in-house or by an outside partner, make sure there’s a plan to backfill personnel and support operations in the event of widespread absences.

At Sunstates, the foundation of our business continuity plan is the Sunstates Mutual Aid Rapid Response Team (SMARRT) program. Specially trained and equipped team members are ready to fill any personnel gaps and provide security at any client’s site at a moment’s notice.

One final note: It’s better to have spent time and resources training for a pandemic that doesn’t happen than being caught unprepared by one that does.

Sunstates Security has been helping clients create customized emergency and business continuity plans since 1998, including pandemic contingencies. Contact us or email us today to find out how we can help you.

 

FROM BOOTS TO BOTS:
SUPPORTING ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY WITH SKILLED HUMANS

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Increasingly, providing the highest levels of security and peace of mind for clients requires more than boots on the ground.

It requires technology.

While human beings will always be at the core of our security strategy, we increasingly use technology to extend our security and threat mitigation capabilities.

Human beings can do many things technology cannot, such as sizing up certain types of threats. But technology can also outperform humans in certain tasks, such as monitoring the Internet to identify potential security issues in real time.

Day-to-Day and Global Security Technology

We use two basic types of technology in serving our clients.

First, we use many tech tools to manage and enhance our security officers. We track activities, ensure that all security checks are done as they should, and provide reports and analysis for clients to demonstrate that we’re meeting and exceeding their expectations.

In addition, some members of our security staff are gaining the skills required to operate Global Security Operations Centers (GSOCs). More and more companies are using GSOCs to:

  • Monitor potential threats in real time
  • Protect people and assets
  • Predict and mitigate emerging risks
  • Monitor and protect threats to corporate operations and reputation

As an example, a large church with missionaries around the world wants to analyze threat levels and potential issues in every location with church personnel, to mitigate threats and to ensure their safety. Companies with executives who are travelling to other countries for business want the same. Many areas where companies might want to set up operations, open a manufacturing facility, or visit potential partners have such threats as political unrest, terrorists or kidnappers.

Here in the U.S., one client GSOC continuously scans the internet to see if the company or its executives are mentioned anywhere, including on the Dark Web. This company, for instance, could be affected if a pending strike in Argentina threatens to affect the power grid. Skilled Sunstates analysts review compiled intelligence around the clock to not only spot potential threats, but also to judge how likely and severe they are. The most credible risks are immediately flagged for further action.

The growing use of technology offers almost infinite opportunities for Sunstates’ security officers to advance their careers and to take on new challenges.

Upgraded Training

Another area where Sunstates uses technology for ongoing upgrades is training in general. Sunstates has a rapidly expanding library of online training courses and materials for officers and supervisors, including both general and site-specific programs. Many client sites have specific security needs and challenges, which are carefully documented for all officers and supervisors to understand.

As a client-driven organization, we continually meet with clients to gain insights into the skills our security officers need to have, and our corporate training department develops materials to ensure Sunstates employees have the necessary competencies.

To discuss the impact of these trends on your organization, please call Sunstates Security at 866-710-2019 or email us.

 

THE DECADE IN REVIEW AND LOOKING AHEAD TO THE FUTURE OF SECURITY

More skills and expertise, more training and knowledge, more technology. The 2010s saw profound changes in the security industry. The advancements, if anything, will accelerate in the decade we’ve just begun.

More Security Guards Than Police Officers

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As global threats increase, so does the need for security. In the past decade, the number of security officers surpassed the number of full-time, sworn police officers. By 2018, the number of police

officers in the U.S. stood at 686,665, according to Statisa.com. By comparison, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported more than 1.1 million security guards and gaming surveillance officers during the same year.

That trend is worldwide. Many countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia report that they employ more security officers than police officers.

Not only will those numbers continue to grow, but the skills of security officers will become increasingly sophisticated. The security officer of the 2020s will have a greater understanding of using technology to enhance security capabilities. There’s no substitute for human eyes, ears and analysis, but augmenting humans with high-tech tools will be a major shift in the industry during the coming decade.

Technology: What’s Here, What’s Coming

When the past decade started, a minority of security employees used technology as part of their day-to-day duties. Today, the vast majority do.

Much of that is technology we now all take for granted, such as using smartphones to track patrol officers and to report incidents. Clients, too, are using more technology, because of a drastic change in the industry.

Specifically, there’s been a global move away from proprietary hardware and software to plug-and-play equipment, which is much easier to install, upgrade and expand. With new capabilities being added so quickly, systems and equipment go out of date within two or three years, and upgrading quickly and economically has become critical.

In addition, the coming years will see greater use of technology in three areas:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Drones
  • Robots

What Artificial Intelligence Can Do

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly adding more analytical and observational capabilities. It can be very expensive to have multiple human operators constantly monitoring the perimeter of a corporate campus to watch for a vehicle driven by a dangerous, disgruntled former employee. But AI can monitor and analyze the images from multiple high-resolution cameras in real-time and then alert a security officer if a vehicle matching the description is spotted.

AI can also, say, flag a vehicle that’s been spotted in an area where it shouldn’t be, or flag a suspicious vehicle that’s been seen in the same area multiple times over a short period. If the same person has been seen behind the building three times after midnight in one week, are they casing the facility and planning a break-in? AI can alert officers before the break-in occurs.

Many secure government buildings are already using AI to enhance perimeter security, and that same technology will be increasingly used in the private sector during the 2020s.

Drones on Patrol

Whether backed by human operators or artificial intelligence, drones can monitor every square inch of a campus, office park or other group of buildings much more efficiently than security officers on patrol. Drones can easily monitor areas such as rooftops that are difficult for humans to watch.

Drones can also be mobilized to quickly respond to any potential incident, providing high quality, real-time audio and video to security officers and others. They can be programmed to track heat sources or detect smoke to provide early warnings of fires.

The Human Touch

We have a logistics client who needs to ensure food safety. The client’s facilities process the contents of over 950,000 vehicles a year, and we employ advanced technology to ensure that every truck arrives in perfect condition, sealed correctly, so the client knows its contents are safe when the vehicle arrives at a grocery store.

Thanks to technology, our analytics shows that the number of potential issues has been slashed by almost 80%.

But humans will always be important and critical. Cameras and artificial intelligence can confirm that a seal is on a handle, but only a security officer can determine whether that seal is actually snapped closed. Trained personnel can spot signs of tampering and know what they’re seeing, while a camera cannot.

All of that means that human beings will still need to be an integral part of the security process. But over the next decade, security officers will be more educated, better trained, and more comfortable and familiar with how to use security technology. Clients will still want the human touch.

To discuss the impact of these trends on your organization, please call Sunstates Security at 866-710-2019 or email us.