Cloud services such as web-based video conferencing platforms proved invaluable for keeping people connected and small businesses afloat during the first COVID-19 government enforced lockdown.
Although the threat has not yet passed with the number of infections rising once more, the capabilities of the cloud have been fully demonstrated. Those businesses that were considering a move to cloud platforms before the pandemic, are now looking to accelerate adoption and take advantage of the many benefits it has to offer, and better equipping themselves for future uncertainty. Physical security is one such area that has benefitted greatly from the cloud, with legacy technologies, such as dated CCTV and manually activated access control points, transformed into powerful digital solutions. Internet of things (IoT) connectivity enables these devices to sit on a network and share data, which, when processed through an analytics engine, can be used to generate powerful insights. These insights can inform decision making around site security and help to identify areas of improvement from an operational perspective too.
Video surveillance as-a-service (VSaaS) and access control as-a-service (ACaaS) can benefit SMEs by providing fully automated, intelligent solutions which offer high levels of comprehensive security and protection. In the current climate, frictionless access control, removing the need for physical contact altogether, offers businesses a totally hands-free solution, removing the cross-contamination risks associated with touching shared surfaces. Through the linking of the access control system to HR records, the swipe of an access card, or use of a QR code on a mobile phone screen, can be checked against staff records, using advanced diagnostic capabilities. A staff member who is flagged as being on leave, absent with sickness or no longer employed by the company will trigger an automated alert to security personnel or the authorities. With surveillance cameras able to provide secondary authentication through visual clarification of an individual’s identity, the integration of physical technology and cloud connectivity proves a powerful combination.
Unlocking operational insights
The possibilities for such use span industries and sectors, and there are many examples. In a retail environment, data obtained from store surveillance cameras and combined with access control information from the stock room, allows facilities and operations managers to make decisions around product placement, the allocation of staff, and a number of other factors which can help increase productivity and enable the business to run more efficiently. Within an office, intelligence derived from a combination of access control and video data can be used to determine how employees move around a building, and whether parts of a building remain regularly unused. This can enable better understanding of working preferences which may influence hot desking and home working policies, the introduction of energy efficient lighting application or even the divesting or subletting of unused space to improve the bottom line.
Remote management and monitoring
Many buildings were left vacant during the first phase of lockdown, or manned by only essential key workers. Security and operations teams benefitted from having on-site visibility through remote management of sites, removing the need to contravene social distancing and lockdown regulations. Intelligence from the system can be delivered via mobile app, removing the need to physically enter premises unnecessarily, which is a key benefit in the current climate of continued uncertainty. SME managers can have full confidence in VSaaS and ACaaS because each system is backed by a regular rollout of software updates and firmware upgrades, ensuring continuous operation. Unlike a traditional capital expenditure model, requiring large upfront investment and ongoing physical updating of systems, both VSaaS and ACaaS are based on an operational expenditure model, requiring a monthly fee for solutions that are quickly installed, fully vendor supported and remove the need for on-site manual maintenance. Such solutions can equip SME teams for the challenges they face today, as well as offering a fully scalable solution to readily adapt to tomorrow’s world.