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What we learned from COVID-19: part one

Security professionals across Canada share their pandemic experiences and learning opportunities


December 9, 2020
By SP&T Staff
PHOTO: AdobeStock

It goes without saying that this has been a challenging and in many ways exhausting year.

Everyone, regardless of their profession, title, company or industry, has had to adapt to new circumstances and in many cases learn new skills.

SP&T News reached out to security service providers, vendors, integrators and monitoring professionals and asked them to provide some insight into what they have learned during the pandemic.

We asked them to tell us how they have adapted to meet their employees’ and clients’ needs and this is what they shared with us.

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Andrew Elvish, vice-president of marketing, Genetec

The security industry excels at planning for the unexpected, and while the pandemic took the world by surprise, our industry has shown extraordinary resilience and resourcefulness. We have seen so many of our customers and partners quickly adapt to the new needs and challenges posed by the situation. They’ve been able to repurpose and adapt their existing security infrastructure to meet some of the new challenges created by the pandemic. Some of our hospital customers, for example, started using Security Center along with intercom-enabled security cameras in patients’ rooms attached to IV poles to enable medical staff to speak directly with patients and conduct basic visual medical assessments without entering the rooms. This smart, quick fix decreased the risk of transmission and conserved their limited PPE supplies while making use of existing security infrastructure.

We at Genetec have also had to adapt quickly. When we moved our entire global workforce to work from home overnight in mid-March, we were immediately operational because we already had the technology and cybersecurity protocols in place to ensure all our employees could safely access the tools, critical systems and information they needed to do their jobs from home. Over the last few months, we have also put a lot of emphasis on supporting our employees to foster a continued sense of community. We have weekly townhall meetings with our president, mental health support, health and fitness programs and even team cocktail hours and virtual cooking classes led by our company’s chef and the kitchen team.

Antoinette Modica, general manager, Tech Systems of Canada

For TSI, it has been business as usual. TSI’s work from home policy was already well-established years before the pandemic, so in that regard, there has been no disruption to the day-to-day business. For me, not being able to meet clients face-to-face was my biggest challenge, but in this new reality, client phone calls and virtual meetings on Teams/Zoom/Skype have become the new way. At the beginning of the pandemic, for the most part, our clients’ facilities were on stand-down to the point where projects in progress where stalled and only essential service calls were being approved. TSI’s approach has been to keep well-connected with our clients to ensure that they know we are there for them. This is a priority for TSI and has become more important than ever. I believe the biggest lesson learned during the pandemic, both from a personal and a business perspective, is adaptation.

Avi Lupo, co-president, DICE Corp.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is not considered a typical disaster situation, our experience in disaster recovery services was effective in helping monitoring centres handle the challenges of managing their systems remotely. Equipment remained functional in offices, but signals were still coming into receivers without people onsite to manage them, so we approached this as an evacuation. By early April, when most of the U.S. and Canada was in lockdown, we enabled over 50 companies and their employees to manage alarms and events with the same efficiency and procedures they would follow as if they were in the office.

We excelled in being an IT team for smaller to mid-size companies that didn’t have the resources to transition to remote working on their own and helped them with our infrastructure and technology. We also had customers with 100,000 to 200,000 accounts and 30 to 40 operators on a shift that needed to be on the same automation package. Our team was able to transition all of them to working remotely without interruption, which goes to show the importance of planning ahead and making sure the right procedures are in place for anything that could come your way.