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The integrated security solution
that keeps G4S one step ahead

G4S's global security operations centre in the USA
The latest technology will always rely on humans. Here, security expert Noah Price describes how the perfect combination of expertise, security professionals, technology and data analytics achieves the ultimate integrated solution.

Biometric scanners, facial recognition software, thermal imaging, video analytics… The list of hi-tech devices and programmes that G4S security professionals have at their disposal is impressive, and growing all the time.

Part of my role involves deciding which technologies to deploy and where.  As G4S Academy Regional Partner, UK and Ireland, I am responsible for ensuring best practice is shared internally, and anyone putting together an integrated solution for our customers understands the importance of using the right combination of Professional Services, People Services and Technology & Data Services.

Typically, in any kind of guarding or security situation, you’re looking to do three things: detect, delay and respond. There are many ways of doing each of those things and we use our expertise to decide on the correct mix of resources, be they physical, procedural or technological, that fit the customer’s budget and appetite for risk, as well as any other constraints that may apply.

This decision should always be driven by a detailed risk assessment, which provides a thorough understanding of the potential threats as well as an understanding of the importance and criticality of the assets to be protected. 
G4S Integrated Security is our combination of expertise, security professionals, technology and data analytics, to manage risks and enhance value for our customers.
Noah price, G4S Academy Regional Partner, UK and Ireland
Most recently, we have helped customers whose sites remained open during the Covid 19 pandemic, to protect staff and reduce the risks of spreading the virus by using innovative technology to detect raised temperatures for anyone entering the premises.  Businesses across the country have been turning to G4S to help plan a safe return to work.   

One major symptom of virus infections is fever, and thermal technology is one of the simplest and most effective ways of detecting a high temperature.  We can also use technology to determine if people are not wearing a face mask, or to count the number of people in an area to ensure social distancing rules can be maintained.  For properties that have been vacated or semi-vacated we have a wealth of video monitoring systems, alarms and patrol and response functions that can assist.   

Using a combination of specialist thermal cameras and advanced analytics, the technology automatically and accurately monitors the temperature of pedestrians entering a designated screening area.  However even with this latest technology, an operative must take the necessary preventative measures, such as questioning the individual or conducting a secondary assessment before deciding whether to permit access. 

One of the key principles in security is situational awareness: knowing at all times what is happening and being able to quickly identify potential threats. The development of connected devices that can record and store huge amounts of data has transformed this aspect of security - this is only part of the equation, it is being able to analyse and interpret it as quickly as possible that gives us the edge.

For example, in the past, security professionals would keep a daily occurrence book, a logbook in which they recorded every incident that happened in and around the site they were guarding. Today, that system has been replaced by G4S’s Javelin software programme, an incident management recording database. The programme can be loaded onto any kind of portable device, such as the ruggedised smartphones security professionals  carry with them on patrol, and has an intuitive menu system that is quick and easy to use. All data recorded is instantly shared with the control room (Security Risk Operation Centre) and our security operators and analysts. Another major advantage of this system is that there is now one version of the truth with a complete, auditable trail.

The digitisation of what we do has been immensely powerful. When you’re recording data in an accurate, timely and consistent manner, you can see trends and patterns and make informed decisions. In other words, sophisticated data gathering technology helps to maximise situational awareness and optimise effectiveness.
CCTV cameras on screens

Caught on camera

In order to maximise situational awareness, it is essential to be able to see exactly what is happening and share that information. For example, security professionals on patrol can be equipped with a body-worn camera; if they find themselves watching an incident, they can beam live footage direct to the Security Risk Operation Centre. In turn, the control room can direct the security professional(s) to gain footage from angles where static video monitoring systems are not present.
Another useful device is a thermal imaging camera that can detect any source of heat, even in a completely dark, featureless landscape or if obscured by fog or rain. The camera can be hand-held or mounted on a tower, typically alongside standard video monitoring cameras.

But even the most advanced technology must go hand-in-hand with the human factor. Thermal imaging is fantastic for the ‘detect’ part of the job, but you have to interrogate that detection. What triggered it? Was it a human intruder, or just a wild animal? You’ve got to have that human brain to interpret the data.
Cameras and advanced software also play a major role in the work of security professionals based in a Security Risk Operation Centre, who will often use video analytics. You can overlay software onto the output of any type of camera and it interrogates the pixels.

You can set up a zone so that if something moves within that zone, it triggers an alarm - we can even detect if something does not move, stays still for too long, gathers in groups or moves in the wrong direction. This enables an individual to monitor far more cameras than they could before.

Access granted

When it comes to access controls, biometric technology has been in use for some years; these days we generally use some form of biometrics together with a PIN, to add a second layer of defence.

But without doubt, the technology that will be the next big thing in our industry is facial recognition.  If you look at the evolution of security, video monitoring systems were a huge step forward, because they allowed you to do more with less. Facial recognition will further enhance that. 

And the technology is constantly evolving to improve accuracy. It’s now even possible for a system to take a 3D scan of the entire head, so that an individual can be recognised even if they don’t look straight at the camera. There will come a time in the near future when facial recognition will be so powerful that we can almost get rid of traditional access controls methods  and rely solely on facial recognition against a database of permitted individuals. 

Even though technological advancements are exciting, the human factor remains crucial when designing an integrated security programme.  The unique solution we propose to our customers, depends on the very detailed risk analysis that is conducted first.

We’re always trying to optimise effectiveness without increasing risk. The solution might not be technology – it might be training or upskilling the workforce, for example. There are so many variables but technology is certainly a large part of it, especially as threats are constantly evolving.  We must always be one step ahead.