In an increasingly fragmented and polarized world, the intricate relationship between socio-economic factors and security is coming to the forefront.
In an increasingly fragmented and polarized world, the intricate relationship between socio-economic factors and security is coming to the forefront. Whether it's the uptick in violent crime across both urban and rural America or the escalating rates of shoplifting and theft in out-of-town shopping malls in the UK, a complex web of economic pressures, labor shortages, and government spending cuts is exacerbating vulnerabilities.
In sectors ranging from retail to critical infrastructure, organizations are grappling with new challenges that demand innovative, technology-driven solutions. This article delves into the multi-dimensional impact of socio-economic conditions on security, offering a comprehensive look at the evolving landscape.
The impact of socio-economic factors on security
In the US, a more politically polarized and economically divided population has experienced an increase in tension, violence, and gun crime. These problems are not limited to cities; shootings are spreading further out and into rural America. Recent research published in the journal SAMA Surgery shows a 25 percent increase compared to the previous 10 years.
"Across much of the world, cost-of-living and inflationary pressures are resulting in increased inequality and more crime, including shoplifting, theft, fraud, and domestic burglary," said Jamie Barnfield, Senior Sales Director at IDIS Europe. "Staff shortages are also affecting businesses' security postures in both urban and rural communities, as it becomes harder to recruit and retain workers in many sectors, including retail and security. Urban areas are more impacted due to larger populations and a higher density of retail outlets, but in the UK, out-of-town shopping malls have also seen a large jump in crime figures."
Concerns of spending cuts
Post-COVID pressures on labor and government spending cuts have led to poor law enforcement responses to lower-level crime in many countries. With fewer prosecutions, there is evidence of more repeat offending, and opportunists are more willing to take greater risks as they are less likely to face the full force of the law or courts.
Retail, in particular, has seen a significant increase in verbal and physical assaults against staff, especially when they intervene to prevent crime or request ID for alcohol or tobacco purchases.
"Reduced police presence in the UK has led to a rise in street crime, including mobile phone theft, vandalism, and antisocial behavior," Barnfield said. "Despite recent government pledges to tackle the problem, there are currently vacancies for thousands of police detectives. This makes investigations and prosecutions less likely for lower-level crime, leading to businesses, particularly retailers, being less likely to report such crimes."
Rise of custom monitoring and analytics
Globally, most spending on crime prevention is occurring in sectors such as retail, education, hotels, logistics centers, critical infrastructure, including data centers, and traditional utilities. Investments are being made in both rural and urban settings. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but common trends include the use of strategically positioned high-definition cameras to cover areas where crime is most prevalent.
In the US, companies are increasingly turning to highly customized 24/7/365 monitoring and virtual guarding services. This addresses the problem of security staff shortages and the rising costs of a 24/7 manned presence while ensuring rapid response capability.
"Using AI-powered analytics, our monitoring partners can configure alerts and alarms based on each site's location and risk profile," said Barnfield. "For example, an intruder in a parking lot at night in an urban area may be a relatively harmless vagrant looking for cigarette butts or recyclables and can be easily warned off with audio. Conversely, in a usually quiet rural area, a human presence may pose a greater threat that needs to be escalated."
Smaller retail stores and offices are turning to edge AI cameras or add-on AI box devices to enable a more proactive and preventative approach. These upgrade options provide the flexibility to focus deep learning analytics on high-risk areas without needing to upgrade cameras or software.
In conclusion, the impact of socio-economic factors on security is both pervasive and complex, transcending geographical boundaries and industries. The increasing economic disparity, labor shortages, and reduced government spending are causing ripples that manifest as heightened crime rates and security challenges.
Traditional approaches are giving way to more customized and technologically advanced solutions, such as 24/7 monitoring and AI-powered analytics, to adapt to these evolving threats.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The road ahead necessitates a multi-faceted strategy, combining advancements in technology with substantive socio-economic reforms. Only by addressing the root causes can we hope to build more resilient systems and communities where security is not a privilege but a right accessible to all.