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ELECTRONIC security people are going to need to adopt a hybrid mindset as ANZ finds its feet after initial COVID-19 lockdown. It’s early to speculate about the way things will go from here – the capacity of COVID-19 to run away in particular situations is extraordinary – but there are suggestions about the direction society and business will head.

New Zealand has just emerged from Stage 4 lockdown into an environment that seems largely free of COVID-19 infection at this time. Meanwhile, Australian rates of infection close to below viral survival rates and active infections are now around 500 nationally.

These numbers strongly suggest ANZ will experience a slow easing of local restrictions that will be predicated on community take-up of the COVID Safe contact tracking app (it’s currently at 5,750,000 downloads), as well as the community’s ability to continue to maintain its distance in a way that keeps transmission rates below the 1 per infection rate for long enough to bring ANZ’s global infection rate to zero.

While there are hopes for a ‘magic bullet’ vaccine, and promising noises are coming from Oxford University in the UK and the University of Queensland in Australia among others, it’s likely a vaccine timeline would run into many years. There are no guarantees researchers will be successful. This means social distancing and hygiene are the frontline defence into the medium term and these are the parameters that must be planned for.

What’s important for electronic security people is the impact this easing will have on the business environments of their clients. According to Apple and Google data, Australia’s workplace participation rate is climbing back up through 75 per cent, with many workplaces having implemented strict distancing, hygiene, and masking protocols to ensure a safer environment.

Something that has been apparent for many during the lockdown is that working from home can be effective if there are no young children present. For security people and their customers, the staged re-opening of schools will be another important aspect of the next 2 months. This process is going to vary, depending on where you are in ANZ.

What’s most likely to happen is that we will experience a re-emergence of business activity built around social distancing and cleanliness. In many cases these requirements will be manageable from a work perspective but there are some business models that may remain unviable for an extended period. These will include large events and crowded venues of all shapes and sizes. For many other businesses, the key is going to be micro-managing core operations to ensure social distancing, hygiene and health and safety standards are maintained.

What this new reality will demand from the security industry is a hybrid business model, with some work undertaken on site and some work undertaken remotely. This remote work is likely to include the commissioning of complex integrated solutions, as well as whatever upgrades and maintenance can be handled via networks. Something else we will see is a more hand-in-glove approach with clients, whose team members are going to take on more responsibility for remotely assisted onsite troubleshooting.

In almost all cases, businesses and their internal and customer-facing operations are going to need careful management. Electronic security solutions are perfectly designed and positioned to assist the implementation of procedures that will need to be tailored to suit each site.

This tailoring is going to demand security people – integrators and end users – dust off their access control/VMS solutions to manage traffic flows, to incorporate health rules, to monitor crowd proximity as part of retail statistics, to manage PPE resources, to deliver contagion proximity reports in real time, to keep an eye on staff health using BTM solutions, and to deliver all these pieces of functionality in real time to the teams responsible for managing security and safety.

These sorts of customisations are going to be prevalent in retail and educational facilities, as well as being relevant in public transport and public safety applications. Later, it’s likely there will be partial opening of sports arenas and these will need to be micromanaged into the medium term. Electronic security businesses and their teams are battling, but never forget, our solutions remain vital to customers balancing on the jagged edge between safety and survival.

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