With all the economic and political turmoil in the world today it’s very easy for society to sometimes relegate environmental concerns to the background. However, thanks to high profile campaigners such as Greta Thunberg and demonstrations/political action worldwide, it has at least become more focussed in the minds of the general population.
To borrow a much-overused phrase, ‘every little helps’ - be that swapping plastic catering utensils and straws for wood and paper or using an energy-smart meter to assess and reduce energy wastage. We all have our part to play and the security industry is by no means an exception.
The Bigger Picture
Providing effective security and protecting the environment do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, ensuring security systems are as efficient as possible is very sound practice, even without environmental concerns.
Also, whilst ‘every little helps’, it’s also important to consider that there needs to be long-term sustainability. We need to make sure that human activities, whatever they are, are sustainable and friendly towards the environment.
This focus on sustainability has had a big impact on the security world for a number of years now. If you look back 10 years ago, many of the access control systems supplied used linear power supplies. Now, many providers have moved over to switch mode power supplies which use 70-80% less electricity.
Many CCTV and access control systems also now use POE (Power over Ethernet), taking their power from the IT network rather than needing additional resources from the supply. This uses less power but also means fewer wires, which have an environmental impact from manufacturing and disposal as well.
In the access control world, we have also introduced wireless systems on secured doors - so you don’t have an electronic maglock that is on all the time when the door is closed. The locking mechanism is only activated when the secure credential is presented and the rest of the time it sits dormant but alert, saving further energy that would otherwise have been wasted.
It is not a generalisation to say that efficiency savings and environmental benefits are often linked. A good example of this is the intelligent use of lifts through access control. TDSi has been working with a lot of our customers to save on the amount of electricity used to power lifts. Rather than people calling individual lifts, the access control system intelligently calculates where you need to go and groups people together to ensure maximum safe and comfortable occupancy with a minimal number of journeys.
This is more efficient in terms of people’s time, the energy consumed by the lifts and even the wear and tear of the mechanical systems (so less servicing required and the implications in terms of engineer visits and materials needed to complete the job). All these factors are all better for the environment as well.
To achieve much of this means working with other teams across different disciplines to hone the best operating procedures. TDSi is working with security consultants, along with buildings, mechanical and electrical contractors, and with facilities managers to put further solutions in place. Well-designed and run systems enable others to follow suit.
Additionally, for outsourced facilities managers there is often a profit or cost share to be found in their contract, so they are looking at ways to save energy and make the built environment more efficient and therefore more environmentally friendly. It doesn’t matter if profit is a key goal, the wider benefits are still achieved.
Security Doing Its Bit
Whilst security can aid in the efficiency of many other systems, there are also considerable savings to be made directly that neither risk security nor safety.
For example, using modern video surveillance techniques and analytics means that rather than having guards physically driving around a large site or perimeter in a vehicle, they can be at the control centre responding to incidents when they happen, without needing to be out and about on a regular basis.
This saves time, money and ensures less of an impact on the environment. This is especially true when monitoring highly remote or sensitive areas where a patrol can be quite disruptive (such as a conservation area or national park for example).
Vitally, this approach still ensures full surveillance and control of automated access control, plus a team can be dispatched quickly to the exact location of an incident when needed, rather than having to patrol around looking for it.
Assuming security and joint systems should automatically be smarter and more efficient really is the best approach from all points of view. Certainly, it’s the way we design and build modern systems and is an important step in addressing the environmental impact that we and future generations will need to manage.