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
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 With new capabilities being added so quickly, systems and equipment go out of date within two or three years, and upgrading quickly and economically has become critical.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
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.