Intelligent occupancy: supporting the banking industry in challenging times

2 Nov 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, retail banks have fortunately been able to continue to operate online. This is thanks to mobile apps and cloud connectivity providing customers with full access to their accounts remotely. However, it is the investment banks and wealth management companies that now need to ensure that they have appropriate health and safety measures in place to accommodate those staff that have physically returned to the workplace. There are many factors to consider, such as hygiene and social distancing measures, yet banks are already under pressure to deliver high levels of professionalism and reliability within a setting that must remain highly secure. This presents a significant challenge and demands a versatile solution.

Intelligent occupancy

Utilising cloud technologies, specific tools have been developed to assist operation and security teams, not just for immediate crisis management, but as they plan for the longer term too. Being able to determine, control and measure occupancy levels can prove invaluable as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, and sections of the country sit at varying ‘tier levels’ according to current risk. Through the use of sensors placed at entrances and exit points, a dedicated system can count the number of staff members coming and going from a site, calculating how many people are inside the premises and presenting the data in real time.

Prompts can be created to inform management when occupancy limits are reached, and configured to trigger important audio announcements or present digital display messages, allowing staff to focus on key areas of service. Understanding and being able to respond to occupancy data is an important part of not only improving onsite security and situational awareness, but also ensuring high standards of service and resourcing tasks appropriately. Importantly, occupancy data from the system can be used to prove that a bank has taken appropriate measures, providing documented evidence of full compliance.

Improving operations and preparing for the future

While guaranteeing staff safety in the current climate is paramount, it’s also necessary to take a long range view of business decision making, in which data around occupancy, combined with surveillance and access control information, can play an important role. For example, in a world where a full return to an office based working environment could be a long way off, competitive advantage can be created by better understanding working preferences or how employees move around a building. The resulting intelligence may influence the leasing or divesting of unused desk or office space, or, for those staff who are on site, the introduction of energy efficient lighting applications or heating in areas of most use.

Other long-term considerations include the addition of remote monitoring capabilities, enabling the management of premises virtually via tablet or mobile, and removing any requirement to be unnecessarily present in person. Remote monitoring has applications across all areas of banking, from checking that staff in a large investment bank are not overstepping occupancy thresholds to monitoring high street branches to ensure customers and customer-facing staff are practicing safe COVID-19 procedures. Such systems can also assist with coordinating activity that sits outside of regular day to day business operations, such as the safe movement of staff during a fire drill. Again, this has far reaching use beyond the current crisis.

A trusted solution for ongoing support

Partnering with a trusted physical security provider can deliver a customisable, scalable, and therefore future proof system. Utilising a pay-per-use business model means that systems can be expertly tailored to meet customer requirements, while monthly recurring payments remove the need for large upfront capital investment in hardware. Regular software updates and firmware upgrades result in a solution that is always online and always up to date.

Greater visibility for the banking industry through a comprehensive system that delivers intelligent insights, will result in an ability to coordinate operations across branches and, ultimately, to serve the customer better. It’s increasingly likely that awareness of proximity to others, and a need to minimise infection risks will become an ongoing concern. Having the right technologies in place will afford management a better understanding of the use of space and movement within it, keeping their eyes open to the many challenges that lie ahead in a changing world.