Streamlining Labor Costs with New Guarding Technologies
Staffing shortages, a remote workforce and the changing role of security officers has created a complex landscape across the guarding industry
A recent survey of 400 security guard firms in the United States revealed that 34% of respondents stated their staff numbers were still below pre-pandemic levels, with many noting difficulties hiring new guards. And the chronic guard labor shortage isn’t limited to the USA as other countries are experiencing the same issues. To meet the demand for quality guards, many security firms have turned to increasing hourly wages, hiring bonuses, and other costly measures—and when budgets can’t accommodate for these increases, they risk settling for subpar candidates and inconsistent service.
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Addressing security labor shortages with emerging technologies
A remote workforce has also compounded evolving threat risks—with reduced number of personnel and increased economic activity causing a higher demand for security, and labor shortages in the guarding market amplifying vulnerability to commercial businesses. The fluctuating nature of security guarding has pushed the industry to search for cost-effective answers while also reducing risk to personnel, customers and assets.
As the industry searches for economical solutions that address the labor shortages in the market, security partners are quickly finding solutions in technology, such as indoor drones and humanoid robots, aimed at addressing current security staffing issues while also anticipating future concerns.
Emerging technologies like this may appear expensive and out-of-reach at first glance for many organizations. However, these solutions one day could critically offset traditional guarding costs by saving commercial businesses money involved with recruiting, hiring, training and assigning personnel in an industry that sees a staggering estimated national turnover rate of between 100% and 300%, according to the Service Employees International Union, the nation’s largest private security officers’ union. This means that most security guards leave their current roles within a year, and some in as little as three to four months.
Technology provides consistent and diligent performance
Additionally, with the potential for robotic solutions to supplement the labor of human guards, these solutions could become force multipliers that address staffing shortages with the addition of mobility and flexibility of autonomous operation. Unlike their human counterparts, these technologies don’t require a full night’s rest to perform optimally and maintain alertness in a way that can be counted on to be arguably more effective and reliable in their roles. Robots don’t no-show for shifts or call in sick and could be stationed in high security areas where loss prevention concerns negate a human guard. Their technological capabilities could make them an all-around valuable solution to directly respond to evolving security concerns in commercial environments and help to overcome the labor shortages the guarding industry is facing today.
Humanoid robotics and indoor drone solutions also provide mobility in surveillance — thereby offsetting traditional video system design and acquisition costs and potentially reducing the need for multiple cameras in several locations if one robotics solution can patrol an entire building. Pan-tilt-zoom cameras are usually restricted to a fixed anchor point, while humanoid robots and indoor drones have the capability to maneuver a space and record their surroundings. These robots also might be able to carry a variety of sensors, such as infrared video or radio wave detection, that can be integrated into other security and facilities management systems, increasing the utility while also reducing costs by cutting the number of cameras required to surveil an area.
There is also the potential for robots and indoor drones to be designated to provide a security presence in areas like data centers with a lights-out management design, in which the technology can be used to remotely view and sometimes physically intervene in its infrastructure. These autonomous robots and drones are also being developed to perform more traditional tasks, like employee presence recognition and interaction, wayfinding, and safety and security incident reporting that are crucial to the success of any commercial security program.
Performing in hazardous environments
Critical to all security solutions is, first and foremost, the protection of people. When a hazardous event occurs, all building occupants— including human guards—must evacuate to diminish risk of loss of human life. In such events, humanoid robots and indoor drones can remain in areas deemed unsafe for humans, including gas discharge and containment areas, both structural and spatial fires, and high outdoor temperatures that limit human movement. With the potential for automatic alarm response and investigation, these technologies and the real-time evidence they gather could one day be invaluable to first responder preparedness, providing them with data that potentially increases response times and minimizes damages to life and assets.
Our investment in these emerging technologies is aimed to streamline and optimize the guarding industry, anticipating future needs of customers while striving to be costeffective in an increasingly costly world.
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