Facility Management

Public Safety & Security Solutions In Facility Management Industry

The panel discussion talks about the challenges of public safety and security safety, role of facility managers in leveraging technology, designing emergency responses as well as emergency preparedness in a crisis situation.

Facility management provides a wide range of services such as maintenance and repairs, security management, and space management, to name a few. The demand for professional facility management services in India is increasing as businesses realise the benefits of delegating these tasks to experts, allowing them to focus on their core competencies while providing a safe, comfortable, and productive environment for their employees and customers.

On the inaugural edition of ‘BW Businessworld Facility Management Conference & Excellence Awards 2023’, a powerful session on ‘Public Safely and Security Solutions’ in facility management was held with a diverse panel of industry experts such as Captain AA Collaco, Head Admin & Facilities, Insurance Dekho; Jeetendra K Singh, CSO, Fortis Healthcare LTD-SB, New Delhi, Major Ashish Chauhan (Retd), Founder & Business Officer, Unisense Advisory, and moderated by Colonel Inderjeet Barara, Chief Cyber Officer, Vara Technology. Various issues, and concerns were raised on the challenges of public safety and security, the role of facility managers in leveraging technology, designing emergency responses as well as emergency preparedness in crises were discussed. 

Col. Barara started on the primary concerns of public safety and security solution in the facility management industry. Speaking on the concerns and challenges, Capt. Collaco mentioned, “There are various factors actually.   The first factor is access control where ever we are and whichever premise we enter, there has to be some kind of access control. The pro of it is that you have a controlled system. The con is that lot of times when the system is not integrated properly, people coming into the system do face a lot of problems. Today we don’t talk of a standalone system, everything is integrated whether it is the HVAC system or the biometrics system or whether it is your entry system, or even your cafeteria management. All these systems are integrated with each other. There are accesses to it as well as hurdles also. Every facility for different verticals has a different problem.”

Singh added to the list of concerns in the healthcare industry. He further added,“ The violence to the medical & para-medical staff is one of the security challenges. Another challenge faced is theft. When you get into the healthcare facility, you are not in the right frame of mind and the environment is quite stressful. According to healthcare facilities, you get to forget things being in that unpleasant situation. So naturally, a lot of things are misplaced that we have found internal staff carrying out thefts, for instance.” Moving on, he also talks about insider threats as well as natural and man-made disasters being a challenge for facility managers in the industry. Maj. Chauhan adds to the list stating, “Majority of the time, we give undue weightage to the worst possible scenario and avoid focusing on the bare minimum. Resiliency in today’s date is very important. In Covid-19, I am sure we all have agreed and seen the disruptions different scenarios can create for us, and facility managers are one of the key contributors in preparation against resilience”. 

Speaking on embracing newer technologies, Capt. Collaco stated, “The emerging technologies or the importance of technology is undoubtedly one of the best things that could have happened to us, as of date. In the fintech background, for us product and tech go hand in hand. We always try to develop new products & that are always based on or backed up by the technology. Now, on the one hand, you have technology & you are moving at a breakneck speed of technology here but of course, there are downsides to it. Looking into technologies, you are also developing new technologies but the same technology is outdated in a period of six months to a year. The biggest challenge for most of us is how we get up and stand on these technologies. Cyber security is a major threat to us. We have to be aware of the technology, its downfall and how we going to cope with those technologies. There are smart cities all around the world now and in India especially, we have to propagate all the smart cities, IoT-based, AI-based, VT-based but the flipside of that is one small problem, once somebody decides to get into the system, your entire system comes to a haul.”

In relevance to the healthcare industry, Singh spoke, “When we talk of safety in medical equipment that we are going to procure, our ROI is not really the concern. People do cost versus benefit analysis and medical equipments is made of a lot of R&D. However when we talk of the other equipment that aids in the safety and security of occupants, visitors & patients, at times the technologies come costly and manage the carryout cost versus benefit analysis and it is seen that technologies are overpriced. The other technologies which aid to the fire safety and security solutions then you really have to see the efficacy versus cost.” Adding to it, Maj. Chauhan states, “The new technologies cost is enormously high if you implement any integrated solutions because there are loads of software, hardware, applications that are involved. If you go to the maintenance of these systems, then I had read in many survey reports wherein maintenance itself crosses almost 40 per cent of the total cost of ownership. Being a facility leader, one of the solutions is that you need to have a very strong business case if you consider that technology is required in your organisation. 

From the perspective of security, Maj. Chauhan adds, “There are two technologies that are going to benefit us. One is the data analytics, whatever amount of technology we using right now, we are sitting on loads of data and we don’t know what to do with that. There are structured & unstructured data & those data people in marketing and business development, and other areas are using it because if you use it effectively, these data are going to give you excellent insights which you can use in your day-to-day functioning of facility management. The second is the critical infrastructure. In large facilities, it is necessary that you have large surveillance systems. These systems are loaded with 4k, very focal, PTZ, and more, and a majority of the images which we capture from the CCTV cameras are more than hundreds of terabytes of data which we collect. So, the technology we need is the cloud solutions because in times of today when we have already experienced the disruptions by Covid, the cloud is the next solution to give resilience to all the organisations and I think these will continue even if there are constant changes in the technology.”

Col. Barara shares his thoughts stating, “We go to any big corporations or building, they take your facial recognition, photographs, sometimes they also ask you for some private license like aadhar card but have you ever noticed where is the data going? Are they supposed to collect it or do they store it somewhere and what is the life-cycle of data? Those are the kind of things that facility managers have to really look for and that way they can be very secure about what they are doing with the data.”

On the note of emergency preparedness, Capt. Collaco talks about the need to prepare plans, training, and the drills the facility manager requires to drive in an organisation wherein Singh tells us that in healthcare facilities, they plan their emergencies manually, depending upon the guidelines they got from NABH & JCI. On the other hand, Maj. Chauhan stresses preparing rehearsal calendars to identify all possible people or stakeholders involved and carry out these rehearsals on a regular basis, be it for a scenario of fire, earthquake, or any major crisis.

The essential takeaway from the panel discussion was noted as technology will exist, but facility managers must consider which technology is required as well as the obstinance cycle of the technology itself and the life cycle of the technology one intends to use. Another takeaway was on the importance of public safety which cannot be overstated, whether it is for visitors or internal employee security. You are linked as facilities, and cyber attacks can occur at any time.

Following the panel discussion, there was a Q&A session.

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