How can hotels step up security?

How can hotels step up security?
Several hotels, especially in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, have become targets of terror attacks in the recent times. Experts suggest that the impact of a lot of such attacks could have been reduced had adequate security solutions been in place.
 
Alexandre Masraff, MD of Onyx International Consulting & Services and co-founder of a hotel security certification program InSCeHo, said, in his experience, what’s missing in a security solution are often maintenance and predetermined procedures for a crisis situation and appropriate training.  
 
More specifically, hotels could have prevented a number of issues if early detection systems were in place, according to Victor Mitri, Regional Manager for Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon at Arecont Vision. It will be much easier to deal with the terrorists when threats are detected early than dealing with them in a hostage situation.
 
“Most of the terrorist attacks which happened recently showed that the terrorists didn’t find lots of difficulties to enter the hotel premises, and therefore we can conclude that earlier detection could have saved many lives (Tunisia attacks, Lebanon, etc.),” Mitri said. “Security systems can help in early detection, and could save many lives if used correctly. We must encourage the hospitality sectors to use extensively the latest early detection methods, e.g., facial detection, vehicle license plates and to match any wanted terrorist and trigger alarm before the terrorist enter the premises.
 
But the issue becomes a bit more complicated when terrorists make use of attack methods like car bombs, according to Okawa Tetsuo, Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Panasonic Marketing MEA. Referring to cases where this mode of attack was used, Tetsuo said that terrorists didn’t even need to enter the hotel, making it more difficult to prevent. However, two key measures can reduce the risks.
 
“Terrorists will visit and check the situation before an attack,” Tetsuo said. “So, if we have face detection with a black list, there is a better chance at early detection. Also, detection of objects left behind can be helpful to identify cases like bombs in bags at lobby area.”
 
Analytics and Access Control Systems
To counter these issues, experts like Gaetan Desclee, CEO of Securitas UAE, point out certain key innovative solutions that are either being implemented or should be implemented.
 
“For example, using video analytics software, hotels can try to make the security system more proactive,” Desclee said. “This means there is no need for guards to be present at all locations all the time. The analytic solution can alert the security operation when a threat is detected. This saves costs while maintaining security.”
 
Strong access control systems, especially those that make use of biometrics, also play a major role in the hotel industry. Desclee pointed out that biometrics are ideally used in controlling access to specific areas and for time attendance. This not just helps hotels to keep track of the movement of people, but also assists in improving business operations.
 
Solutions like License Plate Recognition (LPR) systems should also come in handy as it will help monitor the outer areas of the hotels and the streets.
 
However, despite such suggestions, many hotels in the region [the Middle East and North Africa] are still operating dated systems, according to Harry Kwon, General Manager, IDIS Middle East and North Africa (MENA). A number of them still operate on legacy analog video surveillance systems, while it is obvious that upgrading to full HD and 4K surveillance can vastly improve security operations.
 
“In addition, integrated systems with alarms received into one security management platform can significantly close security gaps,” Kwon said. “For instance, when a door is breached, a camera can automatically focus on the event, quickly allowing security operatives to verify and react to the situation.”
 
But such proposals don’t come without certain challenges, the most obvious being budgetary concerns and operational difficulties. The nature of hospitality industry necessitates a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, making it tough for systems integrators (SI) to set up elaborate equipment. Security solutions in this vertical should be non-intrusive and able to put hotel customers at ease, assured that they are well-protected. 
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