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The Indian security market's continuing COVID-19 demands

The Indian security market's continuing COVID-19 demands
Besides the common practices of providing hand sanitizers to everyone, many organizations have been considering the use of security solutions to ensure they are able to control.
India has been opening its businesses in phases over the few months after the initial two-month complete lockdown meant to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Unfortunately, as with many other parts of the world, efforts to contain the pandemic with a lockdown was not successful, and this meant that businesses had to reopen with curbs in place to ensure the virus doesn’t infect employees or customers.

Sectors like retail, corporate offices, and manufacturing have been given permission to restart, but their operations have been complicated as the nature of their work often makes measures like social distancing difficult. Besides the common practices of providing hand sanitizers to everyone, many organizations have been considering the use of security solutions to ensure they are able to control.

What different sectors need

Tony Alex, Co-founder of Trident Automation Systems, pointed out that for most end customers, investments in solutions for COVID-19 have been an unexpected expense that’s not part of their Capex. The cost of the right quality products was high initially, but lately, it has begun to come down.

“Factories and warehouses are the verticals that need thermal-based temperature screening solutions the most because of the large numbers of people working there in different shifts,” Alex explained. “But other segments like retail are happy with infrared temperature guns, although they too make inquiries about other products. Verticals like corporate offices who are already using fingerprint sensors are seriously considering moving to facial recognition, but if budget is a concern, they will opt for RFID cards.”

Several analytic solution providers are offering products that could ensure mask compliance and social distancing, but these are yet to see takers as customers are still unsure of how the COVID-19 situation would evolve. But Alex feels that there is a growing consensus that the situation would continue to be difficult for another year or two, and even if a vaccine for the disease is discovered, companies will have to continue precautionary measures for quite some time.

Uncertainty in the hospitality sector

Tourism is a segment that has taken a severe hit because of COVID-19. While it would seem evident that after the government allowed a gradual opening in this segment, hotels, and resorts would acquire thermal cameras and other solutions, in reality, things have not been so good. Alex explained that although they had talked to some potential customers in the hospitality sector, most remain uncertain about government policies and market demand.

“There is a lack of clarity for most of them about the immediate future of tourism and business travel, and hence their purchases are limited to sanitizing solutions,” Alex said. Again, an interesting characteristic of the current situation is that it is changing rapidly. As government policies towards virus outbreak change and the infections continue, more drastic steps or effective solutions may be needed at some point.

Factories and manufacturing

The manufacturing sector had been allowed to function outside major cities since May. However, several factories have had to close down after some employees contracted the disease. Rajiv Mathur, Regional Advisor – Asia for Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPA), explained that the market is aware that the need of the hour is contactless solutions in general.

“For instance, access control systems that previously used fingerprint-based scanners would have to move to solutions like face recognition or iris recognition,” Mathur explained. “Similarly, gate management (perimeter security solutions) needs to be contactless as well. Thermal cameras are also a good technology to use, but their use should be regulated because they work best under the right circumstances. For instance, thermal cameras are primarily an indoor solution. If used outside, they may not give the correct number.”

Mathur added that there are even solutions now that can detect if a person is wearing a mask and deny them access if they are not. In line with such a trend, Mathur points out that security solutions should cater more towards contactless solutions across all sectors.

The role of global manufacturers in India

The Indian market has lately seen an interest in locally manufactured products. Following a trade war between the US and China, and the Indian government’s own initiatives to produce within the country, even several foreign manufacturers have set up plants here to cater to the local demand.

Mathur explained that there are quite a few Indian manufacturers for products that are in demand due to COVID-19, but some parts would have to be imported as the manufacturing industry in India is still in nascent stages. Alex, while agreeing that some Indian manufacturers are doing a good job, suggests that in the surveillance industry, Indian companies are yet to have a competitive edge against their global rivals, as costs and quality continue to remain a concern.

Naturally, there is a lot of room for more foreign players in the country as customers would need more COVID-19 solutions if things continue to remain the same for a prolonged period. But market demand would remain unpredictable until there is some certainty on a solution to the virus.

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