Sr. Sales Director & Country Manager, Everbridge
Leading organizations are accelerating their digital transformation to cope with the multitude of disruptions that the pandemic and other critical events are creating. The COVID-19 pandemic is also shining a light on organizations that are succeeding in this environment, having strong business models in conjunction with strengths in adaptability and resilience.
As security executives are navigating their organization’s road to recovery and considering a post-pandemic future, there are many lessons to be learned from how the world’s leading organizations are acclimatizing to operating with uncertainty. Not knowing when, or if, the COVID-19 pandemic will end means that changing your approach to security and adapting to better support your business operations is an ongoing endeavor.
Many leading organizations are utilizing Everbridge Control Center for mission critical safety and security, and these customers offer valuable lessons for other organizations that are evaluating their security approach. In this white paper we are highlighting their top five security lessons learned that apply across all industries, navigating COVID-19, covering:
- Boardroom attention and security leadership.
- Agility, adaptability, and transformation.
- Automation to reduce risk and enhance compliance.
- Switch to remote working.
- Confidence in reopening facilities.
1. Boardroom Attention and Security Leadership
The global pandemic is reshaping the business agenda. Many organizations are prioritizing safety and security above all other commercial decisions, forcing security executives into boardroom discussions where business executives are scrutinizing their security operations.
Leaders at the forefront of the security industry are seizing their opportunity, by clearly setting out their longer-term investment requirements, rather than focusing on purely tactical initiatives. Ensuring safety and security are receiving the required level of ongoing investment allows their teams to stay ahead of emerging threats and critical events while comprehensively managing everyday organizational risks.
They are requesting investment for sustained competitive advantage; articulating the commercial value of security to boardrooms and investing in technologies aimed at driving or enabling revenues and reducing costs over time. We see security executives achieving their objectives by also focusing on reducing risk and increasing operational compliance through digitization and automation. The larger the organization, the more important digitization and automation becomes for increasing behavioral consistency while reducing costs.
Strong leadership skills demonstrating a proactive focus on protecting people and business operations have come more naturally to some security executives. Their training and experiences have given them the ability to operate calmly and effectively during life threatening crises. They have taken accountability for collaborating with business colleagues to ensure operational continuity while bolstering their duty of care. They are demonstrating their adaptability in uncertain environments and are at ease managing a growing number of risks.
Leading organizations are proactively mitigating risks so that the organization can keep running. They are accelerating effective decision making, not making wrong decisions, having certainty when an incident or critical event is not taking place, and not escalating false incidents.
This is where technology is contributing meaningfully, by enabling organizations to make the best-informed decisions through having the right information in the hands of the right people, at the right time.
The lesson: Leading security executives are prepared and resilient. They act boldly, especially during uncertainty. They take a long-term view of strategy, yet they can adapt to a changing tactical environment.
2. Agility, Adaptability Innovation & Transformation
During the pandemic we are seeing leading organizations adapt with agility in safeguarding people, facilities, and assets wherever they are located. These same organizations are transforming and preparing for growth. The most resilient are not only surviving they are looking to the future with optimism. These organizations may not be the ones you often read about when it comes to innovation and transformation, as they are too busy accomplishing their new plans.
Supply chain issues, increasing insider threats, new cyber threats are not dulling leading organization’s ongoing responses. They are operating in a no fail environment and are mobilizing resources to address ambiguity and volatility.
The overriding purpose of security innovation and transformation appears to be commercial and organizational success. Leading organizations are expecting their security to be:
- Commercially valuable, and more cost efficient.
- Failsafe in protecting people, facilities, and assets with built-in mobility and digital/ physical convergence.
- Resilient and adaptable to be future proof.
- Responding faster through automation and data insights.
The lesson: Leading organizations have commercially focused security executives that are using technology, as much as possible, to enable revenues, reduce costs and better protect assets. They are building for future growth.
3. Automation to Reduce Risk and Enhance Compliance
While some organizations are advancing the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, many more organizations are digitizing and automating standard operating procedures to provide comprehensive operational control and increase workforce productivity. We see customers digitizing and automating compliance, resulting in better:
- Management of (multiple) critical events.
- Safety and security.
- Protection of people, facilities, and assets.
- Operational resilience.
- Mitigation of business disruptions.
- Response, adaption, recovery, and learning from incidents
Speed of response is one positive outcome of automation, directly affecting life safety or security. Using technology to automate alerts, decisions, actions, and reporting is clearly beneficial when the volume of information flooding into the organization is significant. Waiting for an operator to notice ‘something’ before acting is an avoidable risk.
Without automation you are also relying on your operators to know your assets from memory (e.g., finding the nearest camera to where an incident is happening) or losing precious time through switching between applications and lookup lists. That is assuming that your operators are trained sufficiently that they remember the exact process your organization has prescribed for the exact situation, and that they can remember that process during a potential crisis moment.
Beyond automation, our customers are using orchestration for dynamic workflows. They are not operating with data silos or fragmented operating pictures. Dynamic workflows defining how the system is going to react if ‘this and this happens’ or if ‘this and this but not that happens’ ensures that the system performs in the way the organization has prearranged.
The orchestration engine is intelligently processing the incoming data from different systems, building up a structured single source of truth or common operating picture and the ability to create dashboards that visualizes insight reports for operational and executive purposes.
We discern that insights help in understanding trends happening across the organization and note how security leaders are always refining processes. For our customers’ organizations they are becoming data-powered and this can be used to build growth and competitive advantage.
The lesson: Digitization and automation are used to reduce risk and increase compliance while improving workforce productivity.
4. Switch to Remote Working
The pandemic accelerated remote working on a global scale at a pace unwitnessed before. Whole businesses transitioning to remote working quickly could have resulted in chaos. However, we are witnessing forward-thinking security executives stepping into the limelight in ensuring, first and foremost, that their people are safe and secure. They are prioritizing the organization’s duty of care in the broadest sense, people’s safety, and people’s well being.
Unsurprisingly, most security executives are ensuring their organization is well protected, particularly as the threat level seems to be constantly increasing and data protection or privacy needs to keep pace. Establishing automated technologies for remote risk and security teams to control geographically dispersed people, facilities, and assets simplifies this. Strong security foundations underpin the ability to adapt and respond such as having a common operating picture, automated standard operating procedures, and strengthened control over physical and cyber threats. For example, alleviating the effects of closing stores, one retailer redeployed staff to work from home and established remote operational centers to manage safety and security at their geographically dispersed stores. The remote security operators were able to view assets and events and when an incident occurred, they had the ability to act remotely. They were applying the same level of control over devices as if using the native system onsite, whether controlling a camera, closing a door, activating an intrusion zone, or changing the temperature and lighting via the building management system. Operator controls were set according to user needs, to ensure risks were managed and compliance was formulated. With the right thinking and actions, even relatively complex scenarios are possible, without needing significant engineering transformation.
The lesson: Forward-thinking security executives prioritize the organization’s duty of care for people’s safety and well being, whether they are on-site or working remotely. They also ensure that physical and digital security adapts to the changing threat levels and is reinforced with satisfactory data protection and privacy rules.
5. Confidence in Reopening Facilities
Hundreds of millions of people are still working from home due to nationwide lockdowns, yet many are returning to offices, stores, stations, and other facilities. Now more than ever, understanding the needs of people and safely coordinating their return to workspaces requires considered safety and security operations. Organizations that are preparing to reopen workplaces are using real-time situational awareness to ensure stakeholders have a complete and timely view of risks, including changing COVID-19 threats, impacting their people, facilities, and assets.
The impact of the pandemic and responses to it continue to vary by country, region, and locality. Many organizations are finding reopening to be complicated, as no single solution currently guarantees complete safety.
Organizations are implementing tailored policies and procedures using only the relevant data for reporting requirements or contact tracing are stored, with full retention control.
We realize that our customers are using intelligence from multiple systems to augment their safety and security approach, using data from calendars, travel schedules, and other person-specific or location-aware sources.
There is no single system today that can solve the challenges of returning to the workplace safely during these challenging times. Our customers are leveraging different technologies to create solutions that are greater than the sum of their parts.
The lesson: Organizations that are preparing to reopen workplaces are using real-time situational awareness to ensure stakeholders have a complete and timely view of risks, including changing COVID-19 threats, impacting their people, facilities, and assets. They are using intelligence from multiple non-security systems to augment their security approach.
Leading physical security platforms are designed to integrate multiple unconnected security applications and devices, and control them through on comprehensive user interface.
Control Center integrates physical security assets to protect your people and maintain operations within your campus and buildings.
With Control Center you can:
- Control your assets through a single common operating picture, as part of a holistic environment, not as isolated systems.
- Reduce your risk by ensuring that the appropriate process is taken for any given situation and having surety that a consistent response is used in accordance with your SOPs.
- Automate actions such as activating response teams or triggering instructions to other systems to accelerate response times and reduce time spent manually dealing with any situation.
- Avoid technology lock-ins by leveraging our existing library of 250+ drivers that is growing day by day, and a truly open integration platform.
- Prevent information overload and ensure compliance with a powerful orchestration engine and secure audit trail of all events and actions taken.
- Improve efficiencies and keep stakeholders informed through automated performance reporting and real-time dashboards configured to your organization or user role’s requirements.
Critical events in India
As of mid-Dec 2020, India averaged just over 27,000 new Covid-19 cases daily for the past week, with the country’s numbers continuing to decline. The country has reported a total of more than 9.9 million cases and more than 1.6 million deaths. The states with the most active cases currently include Maharashtra, Kerala, and West Bengal. Anti-virus restrictions remain in place in some areas, including Punjab, which recently extended its nightly curfew through the end of the year, along with size limits on gatherings.
While the Indian government has begun a phased lifting of lockdown restrictions, many restrictions are still in place throughout multiple regions across the country. Individuals are required to socially distance and to wear face coverings in public places. Essential services including grocery stores, pharmacies and ATMs continue to function. Large gatherings are prohibited, and restrictions vary in different regions.
International travel is suspended until December 31, except for all-cargo flights. Schools, colleges, among other educational institutions are beginning to reopen. Hotels, food courts, restaurants, gyms, houses of worship, cinemas, and bars can operate at limited capacity. Research and coaching institutions can have gatherings over the 100-person limit. Intercity and interstate travel is unrestricted. Domestic flights are operational.
The Indian government resumed flight operations between Leh and Jammu. Flights will operate every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday (See Figure 1).
While the 2020 cyclone season in India was not as active as 2019, the highspeed winds and torrential rains resulting from the storms will continue to challenge business operations and resiliency in India.
Other Critical Events
From Jan 1 to Nov 30, our 24x7x365 risk intelligence team reported over 1200 events in 80 different categories.
The top categories were:
- Operations from security forces.
- Industrial & structural fires.
- Protests and planned protests.
- Insurgent attacks.
- Motor vehicle accidents.
- Significant flooding events.