Security Buyer talks exclusively with Don Erickson, CEO, Security Industry Association to discover his perspective on the covid-19 pandemic and the future security landscape
SIA provides training and advice, how are you helping guide members during this time?
In the very early days of the pandemic, SIA quickly pivoted to delivering a substantial amount of online content to help guide members during this unprecedented period. We have accelerated the development of online courses and published research that has helped members to increase their sales, onboard employees, harden their products and systems, stay abreast of federal financial assistance available to businesses; all while also facilitating introductions for our members to potential channel partners through innovative programs.
SIA has launched SIAcademy LIVE! e-learning programs, which cover specialised topics like how to do business with the government, how to optimise challenging parts of your integration business, cybersecurity training for physical security pros and even technical training on video and access control systems.
With the shift to remote working, do you think e-learning and digital training will continue post-covid?
There is no question that business owners have gained a deeper appreciation for the cost efficiencies associated with virtual learning and that digital transformation of many education programs has occurred more quickly than expected. When possible, security professionals will return to valuable in-person experiences and learning environments at events such as ISC West, of which SIA is the premier sponsor and leads the development of its conference program known as SIA Education@ISC. In-person instruction and workshops offered at ISC West and virtual learning opportunities offered by SIA will continue together. As individuals seek professional advancement, they will place greater emphasis on blended content delivery offered through both in-person opportunities such as ISC West workshops and virtual courses including the online SIA Cornerstones Learning Series and Security Project Management (SPM) courses.
How do you think the industry has tackled the Covid-19 crisis?
This industry never wavered in its determination to fulfil the mission of protecting people, property and assets during the pandemic period. In my more than 15 years at SIA, I have not witnessed a more cohesive mobilisation of business earlier behind a single cause than when more than 500 business leaders worked together earlier this year to secure “essential worker” status. The proliferation of new products introduced in the past year, many of which were recognised during the virtual SIA New Product Showcase (NPS) program, demonstrated that innovation by SIA manufacturer members never slowed down and continued to drive industry financial health. During this pandemic and period of racial unrest, our industry consistently recognised the heroes among us—first responders, teachers, members of the military and health care professionals.
SIA and the Electronic Security Association have launched FAST, how is this benefiting the future security landscape?
Foundation for Advancing Security (FAST) reflects two core principles which are important to me: to help our members address significant business challenges; in this case identifying and recruiting qualified talent across job functions including project management, human resources, sales and customer service, and engineering product management. Our industry faces enormous competition for qualified talent and it is the number one issue impacting businesses today and for the foreseeable future.
FAST also reflects exceptional collaboration between SIA and the Electronic Security Association (ESA). ESA has been a terrific partner through the sharing of expertise that has shaped FAST’s mission and purpose. FAST’s efforts will be supported by SIA’s existing workforce development resources including the SIA Guide to Hiring, our online courses, and Adopt a College program, that enlists the involvement of members to promote the industry to community colleges, four-year colleges, technical schools, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
FAST is a relatively new organisation and it will soon begin a strategic planning process leading to a roadmap of initiatives to help our members to strengthen their workforces. I am confident that in the coming months, new FAST tools and programs will be launched that elevates the profile of the industry before high school and college students and that ultimately help to create a robust pipeline of professionals entering the industry.
With the new year which trends do you think will continue into 2021?
The SIA 2021 Megatrends lays out quite well the key trends that will impact the global security industry in 2021 (https://www.securityindustry.org/report/2021-security-megatrends-report/).
The top SIA Megatrend identified by SIA members and participants in our Securing New Ground (SNG) executive conference last fall is Artificial Intelligence. We continue to see rapid advances in the security applicability of AI, which will not only increase the overall value proposition of security enterprise decision-makers and improve situational awareness for security practitioners, but it will showcase the innovation of our industry to college students as they evaluate a future career in technology and security.
Despite the proven effectiveness of Facial Recognition technology (another SIA Megatrend) to help prevent and solve criminal and terrorist acts, missing children’s cases, and human trafficking, I am deeply concerned by the rising tide of ill-advised proposals to completely ban public and private sector use of FR. SIA has put forth a reasonable and responsible set of FR Principles predicated on the concepts of transparency and accountability that should guide policy making in this area. There have been dramatic improvements in the reliability of FR technology validated by US government product testing experts and this progress should not be stifled through hastily drafted blanket-ban proposals that would cripple the use of this life saving technology by public safety officials.
Does SIA have any big plans for 2021 which you could disclose to us?
2021 will build on recent years in which SIA has delivered several new programs and services for our members to help them become more successful. I am thrilled that in June SIA will launch a new cyber certification for integrators—the first such program in our industry. Throughout the year, we will produce several new reports and online events examining major trends influencing key vertical markets including K-12, health care and energy. And undoubtedly our RISE (young professional) and Women in Security Forum will unveil new content, products and services that offer new professional development opportunities to members of the SIA community.
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Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, Security Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922