Canadian Security Magazine

The changing role of security personnel

By Winston Stewart   

News Industry View Opinion security guard

Is there a future for human guards in this age of multidirectional cameras, AI and advanced access control security systems? The answer is yes, but not with the same job duties or skillsets as in years gone by.

The security guard industry as we know it today was established in 1850 by Allan Pinkerton with the founding of his Chicago-based National Detective agency. A great deal has changed since then, particularly over the last decade.

With the rise of technology and automation, will we still need guards? In this article, we will explore the role of the guard in this tech-driven world, why human security guards are still important, and what type of training and special skills they will need to succeed in the future.

Tech-savvy security staff in the digital world

The role of the security guard is changing fast. State-of-the-art, IoT-driven devices and access control solutions have certainly made it easier to monitor and secure properties, but they have created new challenges. While making security more efficient and accurate, they have also made it a great deal more complex.

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The physical guard of tomorrow will play a vital role in interpreting this avalanche of data in order to make informed decisions to safeguard people and property.

Traditionally, the security guard has been responsible for maintaining a secure environment by performing regular patrols, monitoring surveillance systems and responding to security incidents. In addition to these responsibilities, security guards today must also be trained to use technology effectively.

This upskilling and security guard training will be increasingly critical. Guards must be knowledgeable about the latest security systems, leading-edge software and access systems and be able to troubleshoot problems when they arise. Also, with the advent of the “smart building” where everything is technologically integrated, including security systems and HVAC, guards will need to have more advanced technology training beyond day-to-day systems.

Why human security guards are still important

Despite advances in technology, human guards will remain an essential part of the security mix. Technology, however advanced, will never be the full answer; it cannot replace the judgement, critical thinking, and decision-making skills of a human security guard. In a security incident, the guard must be able to assess the situation and respond quickly and effectively, which is something that technology cannot do.

A friendly point of contact – and frontline defence

Technology today can never replicate the personal interaction and customer service that a human security guard provides. The concierge in buildings is very much a security role that will remain important in the future. As the first point of contact for customers, employees and visitors, they play a vital role in creating a safe and welcoming environment, which is so essential for businesses and organizations. They can provide a personal touch, offer assistance and provide reassurance to those in need, which technology cannot replicate.

And of course technology can be subject to hacking and malfunctions, which can compromise security. Human security guards provide an extra layer of protection and can respond to situations that technology cannot handle. They can also provide backup support in the event of a technology failure, ensuring the continued protection of people and property.

Here are a few of the “must-haves” for the successful security guard of the future:

  1. Technology savvy: Technology is changing the way security guards perform their duties. Security guards are now expected to have a working knowledge of various security systems, such as surveillance cameras, access control systems, smart technologies and devices, and the latest AI-driven alarm systems. They must be able to use these technologies to monitor, detect and respond to security incidents in real-time.
  2. Focus on prevention: A proactive approach to preventing security incidents will be essential, rather than just responding to them. For example, security guards can now use video analytics and facial recognition technology to monitor crowds and identify potential threats, helping to prevent incidents before they occur.
  3. Customer-centric: A more customer-focused approach will be essential. Guards will continue to provide assistance and support to customers and employees in a range of areas, including acting as customer service representatives, helping customers and/or residents with directions, information assistance and more.
  4. Focus on response to data-driven insights: With the rise of big data and analytics, security guards are expected to be trained in data analysis — and also on how to respond rapidly based on data insights. More informed guarding decisions and faster response to security incidents will be a future trend.

These are just a few examples of how the role of the security guard is changing in Canada. It is important to select security guards — or a security guard company — committed to upskilling and staying up-to-date with new technologies and trends.

Winston Stewart is the president and CEO of Wincon Security (www.wincon-security.com).


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