How security managers keep the heroes of today safe?

Healthcare, sanitation, security and other customer-facing staff have been recognized as the heroes of our time. The forefront deserves every bit of respect – and our support.

What about all the people working to supply electricity, water and networks, ensuring that the heroes can do their work and the rest of us can stay at home safe and sound? They enable us to continue living our lives as normally as possible. We work remotely and cook at home more than usual. Our kids hang out with their friends in social media and call their grandparents regularly to check they are ok – even more often than before. The demand on utilities in residential areas has peaked over the last few weeks and will be on this increased for the foreseeable future.

At the same time, critical infrastructure providers are under even greater pressure to safeguard critical sectors. This forces companies and officials to approach resource management from a totally different point of view.

For example, after the European Commission agreed with several of the most popular streaming services to reduce streaming speeds, major telecom service providers in the UK united with a national campaign to reduce the load on networks in order to find a balance in the existing situation.

When it comes to the power sector, some nuclear power companies are not maximizing remote work, but making preparations for the opposite: by providing accommodation and other essentials, workers can stay on-site and minimize their contacts with people external to the organization.

In the past weeks, good hand hygiene has played a huge role in curbing the spread of disease and that makes water treatment operations essential – there is now no room for disruptions to the water supply, even though the World Health Organization has stated that no extra measures for ensuring clean water supply are needed.

When continuity is a must, can security managers prepare for the unexpected? Is there any chance to have peace of mind during a crisis?

I started to gather the most important qualities that would help critical infrastructure companies to survive times where access is controlled and employees are at risk of being quarantined or even falling sick.

Here are my four pieces of advice from a security and access control point of view that will help during the crisis:

1.       Make inevitable access as flexible as possible

A flexible access control system will help you to prepare for unexpected events. You may have to grant access with access tokens, mechanical keys, electromechanical keys or even mobile access to get staff and partners to your sites. Ideally, all of these would be controlled from a single interface, accessible securely from anywhere.

If you don’t have a digital security solution in use, now would be a good time to carry out a follow up of all the mechanical keys and key holders out there.

2.       Minimize face-to-face key handling

Leaving keys in places like post boxes to avoid contact during the crisis poses a security risk. Mobile access solutions show their advantage in just this kind of exceptional situation.

Mechanical and electromechanical keys can be located in key cabinets with restricted access rights. In the best case, the key cabinet system is able to provide you an audit trail showing which user has taken what key and when. 

3.       Get peace of mind with an audit trail and robust locking solutions

Full traceability of access points ensures people and utilities are safe. Not only do you want to give access to the right people, but you also want to make sure that all activity is monitored, even when you can’t send anybody to the location.

If an audit trail if not an option, my tip would be to make sure you’re using good quality products. They will minimize the number and severity of spontaneous incidents and your regular maintenance work is handled by a reliable and trustworthy local and global support network. 

4.       Find the power of relationships

When facing an unexpected situation, partners with a good track record and years of experience in the industry will help you weather the storm. Again, a strong global community and local presence will give you support when it’s most needed. Remember: you’re not alone.

Thanks for supporting our heroes. How can we support you?

Hinni Ollila
Program Manager
ABLOY Critical Infrastructure