Understanding Canada’s post-pandemic security landscape
By Darren PedersenNews Opinion allied universal COVID-19 darren pedersen pandemic
Before the pandemic, many companies applied a minimalist approach to physical security centred around cost.
When the pandemic hit, the dynamic of how the security professional was seen dramatically changed. On so many levels, COVID-19 has drastically altered the Canadian security landscape. In addition to serving and safeguarding customers, communities and people, security professionals became health and safety ambassadors.
The advent of a global pandemic rapidly upended the way we worked and lived our day-to-day lives. As the government has identified security as part of the essential workforce, the security universe has been front and centre for the sweeping shift taking place with policies and procedures to minimize the effect of the virus. While many people around the country were under stay-at-home orders during 2020 and 2021, security professionals, classified by the government as essential personnel, continued to report to work during the pandemic.
The pandemic proved that it has never been more important to control what you can and take reasonable measures to ensure health and safety for the future. As physical distancing mandates altered the way we went back to work, dine, shop and visit, service providers had to amend their business practices. For security professionals, working during a pandemic can be fraught with tension as we all navigate this new terrain. The Public Health Agency of Canada, Provincial/Federal Health and Safety bodies mandated physical distancing procedures, regular disinfection and sanitation and foot traffic management; all of which can be challenging in busy spaces.
Security professionals have been fulfilling a variety of screening services to ensure the safety and health of customers, communities and people. Security professionals began working with their clients to design and implement screening solutions that best fit their environment, requirements and existing security operations.
Screening services that Canadian security professionals have been using in the workplace come in multiple forms and include close contact screening with security professionals wearing protective equipment and screening people with close-contact temperature hand-held, Health Canada-approved gauges. These devices allow for non-contact screening to detect differences in temperatures and pattern changes. Alarms show on screen when an object or person is detected to have an elevated temperate.
We have also been using distance screening, utilizing thermal cameras with associated artificial intelligence software and equipment. Security professionals use this advanced distance screening technology, with no personal protective equipment (PPE) required if the employee can maintain distance greater than six feet for high traffic situations. Distance screening technology includes mounted imaging kiosks which include specialized cameras integrated directly with artificial intelligence technology that analyzes and compares data against predefined parameters. On-screen instructions and automated alarms provide a convenient solution for high-capacity screening.
High traffic distance screening technology also includes walk-through temperature sensors with built-in cameras that detect apparent temperatures of people by reading the energy emitted from the subject’s surface. Hot spots can indicate a fever or underlying infection. These analytics take multiple images in less than a second to ensure that the hottest spot is captured from multiple images if the person moves during image capture.
From Guard to Ambassador
As we move into our post-pandemic world, most of us are confused about what the workplace will look like. After so many months of isolation, companies are looking for customer-friendly security personnel who look approachable and warm; not dressed in tactical type uniforms. The post-pandemic security ambassadors are everywhere from financial institutions, offices to airports. People are looking to security as a trusted professional to help them navigate an airport, building, landmark, etc.
Hiring & Training Security Personnel for Security Programs
The heart-and-soul of a security program starts with a world-class security team of highly trained people to support the security mission. The Canadian professional security sector is growing exponentially and the need for security professionals to be comprehensively trained, during and beyond the pandemic, is vital. Security professionals are leaders who are a vital part of a facility or community’s safety and security — working in conjunction with local law enforcement, fire rescue and emergency medical responders.
Today’s security professional is a highly trained employee with access to cutting-edge technology. They are able to implement a variety of safety and health screening services. Security professionals are also working with their clients to design and implement screening solutions that best fit the environment, requirements, and existing security operations. State-of-the-art technology that connects artificial intelligence and human response to better protect people with accurate real-time data and safer social interaction is the “gold standard” in our industry.
The Canadian security sector is looking for the best and brightest of today’s diverse workforce. Every type of industry and situation is represented in the security sector from community security to airport screening to every type of industry that exists from manufacturing, education, utilities, commercial real estate and more.
It is a great time to join the security industry as the sector is looking for a wide variety of people from divergent backgrounds and it is an industry that promotes from within. The industry not only includes retired law enforcement but people from customer service industries such as hotels and restaurants. Companies hiring a security team want a diverse, customer-centric team who can provide support, value and expertise.
Hands-down, employees are the most valuable assets of any security company. It is vitally important for a security firm to adhere to strict guidelines for hiring and training.
Experienced, well-trained security professionals who are licensed and who have undergone background checks are the foundation of professional security. However, the security sector welcomes talented professionals that have strong customer service skills who come to our sector from other industries who then go through security training and licensing. Employees who have outstanding customer service skills are highly coveted in the security sector, and these professionals are the people who rise the ranks most rapidly.
Continual Training is Key
Detailed, comprehensive training is extremely important for security personnel. Training methods include classroom training, field training, hands-on simulation training, table top exercises, workshops, e-learning, certification courses, government-mandated courses and annual refresher classes.
Now with pandemic screening, security is a dynamic sector that demands that the security professional engage in extensive training which includes how to recognize elevated body temperatures; understand the signs and symptom of heat stress; handling slips, trips and falls; workplace fire safety; workplace violence and active shooter; emergency response and disaster planning; and hazardous materials.
Today’s security professional is a highly trained individual with access to cutting edge technology including state-of-the-art technology that connects artificial intelligence and human response to better protect people with accurate real-time data and safer physical interaction. Partnering with a vetted company that offers all of these solutions will be the “gold standard” in our industry.
The future of physical security will require that we adopt more efficient and dependable technologies to adequately support future labour shortages while strengthening our security posture. Ensuring these technologies integrate with one another and the humans responsible for operating them will continue to be the focus for successful security programs.
Darren Pedersen is President at Allied Universal Canada. He can be reached at: Darren.Pedersen@aus.com.
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