G4S | Technology, the security motivator

In this exclusive Q&A, Jordan Roberts, Sales Director of Secure Solutions UK & Ireland, G4S, discusses integration and technological enhancements within the security sector and the company’s projects related to critical national infrastructure.

Integration is a word we hear a lot in the security sector but how do you ensure a system functions as a truly integrated system?

Well, we think we’re in a great place as most people know us as the security guarding company! To an extent that is true – it’s definitely our heritage.

That history has meant that we have come to understand how security systems and personnel can most effectively combine – we know what good likes it.

We’ve found that the best way to ensure systems and personnel work as one is to review them as part of a holistic approach to security. Clearly risks are dynamic so accepting a model for security provision or “Doing what you’ve always done”, just won’t work.

I think we’re unique in that our in-house systems division supplies our own security management system and we have a direct line into product development to ensure the needs of our frontline workers are captured as new series are released.

Where a need cannot be satisfied in-house, we have a number of preferred suppliers, that we work closely with, to tailor integrations to meet individual needs. This includes making use of careful design, built up over many years of design experience to know which products link well with each other.

Do you see technology and people working together as important or are we seeing technology taking over?

We always try to look at security on a holistic basis. Wherever possible, we like to start with a risk assessment, identify the current risks that the organisation is exposed to and then consider technology and personnel-based services together. We then make recommendations based on the organisations’ budget and appetite for risk.

In terms of deployment, there is no doubt that technology is a crucial enabler for security delivery. Whether it is situational awareness for an office or instant notification of suspicious or unusual activity, modern security delivery requires on technology enabling the delivery.

However, we don’t see the need for security personnel disappearing – far from it. There has never been such a demand for officers. We are definitely seeing a need for new skills – for instance identifying signs of mental health distress or performing safety incident response – and we are embracing these through our workforce.

Technology very much needs to be regarded as a support for people in making efficient decisions rather than decisions being made by the systems themselves. This means that, to maximise effectiveness, the quality of the human/machine interface is key

What opportunities are new technologies delivering for both your customers and those in the business tasked with delivering solutions?

Technology is clearly a driving force behind cost saving programmes when compared to traditional personnel-based services. But it also is a key enabler for environmental improvements – by reducing physical footfall and traffic – the measurable environmental benefits really turn heads.

Customers are also embracing control room consolidation and service delivery to a secure remote location as connectivity has improved. This provides huge benefits in terms of skill specialisation and resource optimisation. The opportunities are endless – from remote access management or concierge services all the way through to full time surveillance and issue diagnostics.

In addition, there is currently a focus on developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide ever more efficient systems, by determining what events and activities need to be brought to the attention of the operator. These systems can also be combined with drones that can provide fully automated tours, making it far easier to monitor long fence lines and remote locations

Thinking into the use of technology in operations, what tools do officers use to support a customer requirement?

Within operational delivery, situational awareness and data for service provision are key. Situational awareness is all about intelligence – more specifically in terms of providing an officer with information so he both has the correct information and is aware of status upon arrival at a scene.

In an ideal world, the officer will be alerted to suspicious activity before an incident even occurs. With the systems available today, first responders can view developing information as they travel to the scene, so that they can both determine the best approach and be prepared for the situation on arrival.

Then you have service provision. It is so important that the officer uses a platform that captures service delivery information in real time in order to demonstrate that tasks have been completed in accordance with SLA’s.

To complement the platform used by the officer, information needs to be consolidated into a simple, easy to use portal to allow a customer quick and easy access to management information – especially when they operate across multiple sites and locations.

G4S are heavily involved with major critical national infrastructure projects but do you rely on internal skills and expertise or partnerships to deliver them?

Our systems division operates with an in-house team who are experienced in designing systems, taking solutions from multiple manufacturers and consolidating them into a solution that complies with all main standards.

We operate in house project management, installation, commissioning, training and after sales teams to provide continuity of service. Our engineers operate with the highest security clearances and we are used to dealing with large scale projects against demanding timeframes, with tight budgets and only limited access.

Our own access control system is CPNI approved and operates successfully across utilities and in some significant critical infrastructure sites.

Where we do use partners, we of course go through the appropriate partner accreditation programs.

What would you say to a technology provider that may want to work with G4S?

We are always looking for new innovative technologies. We operate a product management function whose role it is to evaluate the market opportunity for new technologies, perform an assessment of the technology and then project manage the introduction so that all internal functions are fully equipped to supply, install and support upon go live. As an example, we’re currently project managing the introduction of drones for indoor and outdoor surveillance.

For anyone reading who believes they fit the bill – we’d love to hear from you.


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