Can we talk? Dual perspectives on the state of pro security.
2020 has been a year like no other. The pandemic has impacted business in every imaginable way for security professionals from the perspective of both end-users and systems integrators alike. To help navigate and comprehend the situation as best possible, we’ve spent lots of time speaking to our customers and our sales partners, as its more important than ever before to remain acutely aware of new and continually emerging needs of our industry – and conversation is the best way to do so – even if they’re all predominantly virtual.
So, we put together a brief synopsis of conversations we’ve been having with end-users and systems integrators relative to access control to get a balanced perspective current perceptions, attitudes, and objectives.
What are the most prevalent issues you are facing today?
Closing then reopening, and possibly reclosing places of business seems to top the list. There remains an heir of uncertainty as to when employees will be able to return to the workplace – whether it be an office complex, school or sports facility. The same holds true for medical complexes and care facilities where visitors are still largely prohibited.
The situation is being compounded by new compliance regulations and lockdown orders that vary widely from state to state, and even within specific areas within a state, that greatly impact access policies and daily operations.
Gaining access to customers’ properties has been a challenge relative to the safety of our staff as well as our customers’ personnel. As a result, most of our business has been relegated to emergency service and maintenance, and implementation of features like occupancy counting to help customers maintain compliance.
What new technologies or solutions do you deem most important in light of the pandemic?
There is an immediate need to monitor and control access to facilities relative to both occupancy limitations and from a true health safety perspective. This has driven the need to explore how we can best leverage existing system technologies like access control to help ensure the health safety and security of individuals in every facility. This requires dialogue with our systems integration partners as well as equipment suppliers like Sielox to see how we may be able to leverage our existing investment in access control technology and other security systems, and/or identify what we should now consider updating or adding to our current systems.
Most end-users are not completely familiar with the full functionality of their access control systems, which they have traditionally viewed as a security and/or workforce management solution – but not necessarily a compliance or health safety tool. With some new installs on-hold at this time, we are focused on counseling our customers on how we can implement existing and new features simply through programming changes to address new challenges. Occupancy management is a good example. Most Sielox Pinnacle access control users are probably not aware that this feature is already available in their existing system. It just needs to be activated. Touchless access solutions, such as using mobile phones for credentialing, minimize potential contact with viruses and germs, and can also be easily implemented quite cost-effectively. Wireless locks can also be easily integrated with our Pinnacle access platform allowing users to effectively extend the reach and management of electronic access control for exterior and interior locations in their facilities including cabinets, drawers and lockers that may now warrant electronic monitoring and management. These are just a few of the topics we are discussing with our customers. We want them to know we are in this together and that we are here to support them, which has obvious mutual benefits.
What access control shortcomings have surfaced as a result of pandemic related processes that may now become standard practice moving forward?
Like most, we previously viewed access control and other physical security systems like video surveillance predominantly as measures to protect people, property, and assets. Not so anymore, as it has become apparent that these systems can be combined and configured to serve a greater range of health safety and business applications. Limiting access based on predetermined occupancy levels and preventing known individuals exposed to COVID-19 by integrating contact tracing lists and alerts, as well as elevated temperature detection notification and response solutions, are most relevant examples. These features address new health safety, liability and compliance challenges that were not even on most organizations’ radar just a year ago.
Technology providers like Sielox have been touting the benefits of layered security systems to enhance overall security, including the need for crisis management solutions like CLASS (Crisis Lockdown Alert Status System) to help quickly identify and remediate potentially dangerous situations, most notably active shooters. Given new challenges related to COVID-19 pandemic, it’s quite apparent that solutions like CLASS have far-reaching applications for myriad event management and notification applications. When combined with the simple addition of inexpensive devices like exit readers, the Pinnacle access platform and CLASS can be layered to provide detailed contact tracing and infection notification functionality with lockout and lockdown functionality. This is one of many diverse applications that layered systems can provide above and beyond conventional security.
The development and deployment of new vaccines are a bright light at the end of the tunnel, and we hope that we see the end to the pandemic sooner than later in 2021 so business and life can resume to some level of normalcy – whatever the new normalcy is. In any event, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic was surely a wake-up call that has taught us many new lessons. Let’s hope we all don’t contract amnesia once this current situation passes.