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Jun 9, 2020 4:07 PM

Yannick De Smet Strategic Solutions Manager for G4S in Belgium looks at how the security industry might change following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic... Businesses around the world are planning...

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Yannick De Smet, Strategic Solutions Manager, for G4S in Belgium looks at how the

security industry might change following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic...

Businesses around the world are planning for tomorrow, and considering what the ‘new

normal’ will be. The central question for security professionals is ‘How will our industry

change in a post Covid-19 world?’

To begin answering such a big question we first need to look at how society has adapted

and changed during the Covid-19 pandemic and which of those changes will continue to be

perceived as normal, even when Covid-19 is no longer a clear and present danger.

In other words, what are the habits, impacts and trends of the Covid-19 crisis, and can we

identify which of these are likely to remain in the future? These new normals will be the

foundation upon which future security will be built.

As part of the G4S Academy, we have created a guide that looks in detail at these new

habits, impacts and trends, and predicts how they will influence the security solutions that

become the ‘new normal’.

The most significant changes as a result of Covid-19 can be categorised into three groups;

societal habits, economic impacts and security trends.



We have seen, and will continue to see, a huge change in our societal habits, for example

an increased focus on health protection and social awareness, plus a dramatic reduction in

travel, and we expect this to continue to some degree in the post Covid-19 world.

There will be continued attention on infection prevention and control. We expect to see

more fever detection and screening systems, and a faster deployment and wider

acceptance of personal protective measures, both with physical distancing and the use of


Remote working, remote shopping, remote sporting, remote entertainment, everything has

turned remote and the most surprising fact, for many, is that it is working. People adapted to

the obligation of keeping a safe distance and have adopted the remote technology that was

already present in their lives. For example, remote monitoring by virtual security checks as

an alternative to physical officers’ rounds has been in high demand and this will probably

remain so.



Covid-19 has had financial implications for many, and the OECD has reported a sharp

contraction in household spending. Most leisure and culture sectors were at a stand still for

many weeks. With less or no revenue coming in and production halted, companies have

started cutting costs. Security activities are being rationalised and it will be more important

than ever to provide solutions that are lean and efficient.

This will require security professionals to be more agile, meaning they will need to have the

ability to put new operating models in place (internal or external), supported by the right

processes and governance. It is important for customers to know the quality of what they

are purchasing when it comes to security, not just the cost. Solutions that are agile are not

always the cheapest, but will be able to flex and adapt to challenges quickly and without

compromising the assets they seek to protect.

Other significant economic impacts of the pandemic will be seen from increased

unemployment, and the potential resulting increase in crime. The International Labour

Organisation estimated that in the second quarter of 2020, worldwide working hours have

declined by 6.7%, which is equivalent to 195 million full-time workers losing their jobs

globally. This increased unemployment is all the more alarming when considered alongside

scientific research conducted in the UK and Italy, which found that in those countries up to

80,000 additional monetary crimes were committed each year for every percentage point

that the unemployment rate increases.

Another economic factor to consider is the movement of goods and services across

borders. As the virus spread, borders closed and countries went into lockdown, and

sourcing products locally sometimes became the only solution. The repercussions of this

trend could be seen when companies are forced to depend on local products as supply from

beyond country borders may be limited. If supply streams come under pressure, the

importance of securing them will increase.



Since the start of the pandemic, global messaging has consistently purported the benefits of

staying home, avoiding crowded places and, particularly, the need to minimise physical

contact. This has unsurprisingly led to a rise in interest for technology by which processes

or procedures are performed with minimal human contact, especially “contactless



We can expect a lasting impact in security trends in this area, for example automated

customer counting and flow control (to comply with social distancing rules in shops), facial

recognition, integrated fever screening and detection, remote monitoring systems, robotics

and drones etc.


However, automation must be carefully managed. We always stress to our customers that

automation does not mean the replacement of people. Far from it. For an automated system

to be effective, it becomes even more important to have reliable and accurate human input

in order to respond if something goes wrong. People are less involved, but their involvement

becomes more critical.


Perhaps one of the most notable consequences of the Covid-19 crisis is that it has given

the digital transformation an immense boost. At the root of this boost is the remote

everything habit that it has been necessary to adopt. We believe that digitisation will

continue, including in security, where Risk Operations Centres (ROCs) will play a central

role. They will be the hub where the digitised information is centralised and where smart

operators (people supported by artificial intelligence) will act upon the information received

as agreed with the customer.



New threats may emerge following the pandemic, making it more important than ever that

threat and risk analysis is a part of every company’s continuous improvement plan.

Gathering intelligence, and processing it, will become an essential activity of every security

professional. Similarly, companies will have to consider their security needs and with more

people working remotely, the need to protect ‘just’ an office building is extended to

employees’ homes.

No one has a crystal ball to look into the future, but by analysing the current impact, trends

and habits formed during the pandemic, we can glimpse what the new normal for security

might be.

To find out more about how these ‘new normals’ will impact your security needs, please

download the full report (click the link below) which was developed as a result of a global

collaboration by G4S Academy specialists.


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