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Challenges facing transportation security after COVID-19

Challenges facing transportation security after COVID-19
A pandemic, lockdowns, and healthcare mayhem form a perfect recipe for economic and business disruptions. COVID-19 has affected all sectors without exception. Financial relief and stimulus packages are the most sought-after thing now as challenges abound. For security companies that work in the transportation segment, challenges range from procuring equipment to maintaining health guidelines as they work. Although these difficulties are similar to other verticals, vendors and systems integrators need to consider factors unique to the transportation sector in the current scenario. 

Supply chain disruptions

Many solutions providers are challenged with ensuring a reliable supply chain amidst the coronavirus pandemic. According to Stuart Rawling, VP of Technology and Customer Engagement at Pelco, sourcing materials from locations that are hard hit by shutdowns and mitigating this challenge by exploring other avenues for locating these components is essential for ensuring business continuity in this climate.

“Another way to help with this is to communicate regularly with integrator partners to see what’s coming down the pipeline in this market, prioritizing immediate needs and ensuring there is enough supply to meet the demand,” Rawling said. 

This becomes even more significant when the demand for solutions like fever detection solutions in airports increases in the wake of the pandemic. Such solutions are necessary to fight the disease outbreak and security vendors are in the right position to provide them. But if the demand rises exponentially, the supply becomes difficult because shipments have all taken a hit. 

The need to distance

Glenn Farrant,
CEO, CriticalArc
Glenn Farrant, CEO of CriticalArc, noted that the main challenges they have dealt with have been around deployment and support, which is typical of most service businesses. The company has raced to ramp up their services online, and in many ways, this has been a very positive development.
 
“Last week, for example, we had 60 customers signing up for our new six-week training refresher program for staff, developed in response to the pandemic,” Farrant said. “We’re finding that major customers have become more supportive of using online services such as webinars – these are tools that small businesses and self-employed people have been using for several years, but now bigger corporations are seeing their value too." 

This trend is likely to outlast the current crisis. The changes being brought about could lead to a more efficient way of working across the sector in the long term. 

The need to bring costs down

Many solution providers are spending more time working closely with customers to understand their businesses and give them the best solutions for digitization and automation.
 
“Very few companies will be in a position to hire new staff so we’re collaborating to find cost-effective solutions to challenges that will relieve pressure on human resources – whether that’s ensuring social distancing, hygiene standards, and the ability to quickly shut down and re-open parts of facilities, or better communicating with staff, contractors and visitors,” said Lee Copland, Managing Director for EMEA at Maxxess Systems. “As a result, our new rapid deployment InSite cloud-based solution, developed over the last two years, is now in greater demand.  At the same time, we are ramping up integration of thermal imaging for body surface temperature checks, and devices such as hygiene hand scanners that only a couple of months ago were not even part of our product roadmap.”
 
In fact, the need to bring costs down in transportation could lead to more automated systems being deployed in this vertical. Besides solutions that will reduce the need for staff in operations that are mandatory to ensure healthy practices, security systems could also see the trend of minimum human intervention. Already, we see analytics taking over security systems in many airports, including solutions like live facial recognition, locating unattended luggage, and behavior detection systems. These could prove to be critical in overcoming the financial challenges in this sector.   

Towards open platforms? 

Given the reduction in passengers across the transportation sector, it is likely that we will see a reduction in capital investments made in the coming months as revenues trend downward. But dealing with financial challenges is not just about reducing labor. The industry may also begin to look for ways to invest in more open-platform technology that allows for unification and incorporation of existing technology, such as video cameras and access control readers. Doing so allows the few investments made to stretch further.


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