Having worked in the security industry for many years, from grunt-work during university through to my current position as a marketing manager, I have come to know some of the intricacies of the industry, and on reflection there are areas that captivate me and inspire, and other areas which leave me feeling frustrated. These are some personal reflections, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Verifier or the industry as a whole.
What makes security interesting?
1. Helping people: Whether it’s a residential client wanting to feel safe in their home, or a large-scale commercial/LPR client wanting to ensure their business doesn’t get targeted by criminals, it’s a great feeling when the services we offer match their needs.
2. Grappling with philosophical questions: Working in the tech-focussed security sector allows me to ask the big questions of what it means to be safe and secure in the modern world, how best to enhance accountability and transparency, and analysing industry trends that ground and contextualise ways of living in times of great techno-social change. This is both intellectually stimulating and socially relevant.
3. Constant evolution…and constant learning: While it may be tough to keep up with the pace of change, if you’re engaged in the task it’s undeniably rewarding, especially when you see the things you dream about in years past become reality. It is so satisfying when your technological capabilities grow exponentially, meaning you can do more every year! As far as constant learning is concerned, I’m a fan! Having meetings with channel partners about their companies’ new innovations, and writing articles on topics I find interesting help keep me engaged and informed.
4. Some days the technology makes you feel like you’re in a spy movie: This is a personal geek moment, but the reality of working in the security industry is sometimes better than the movies. While flashy devices and features such as thermal imaging and facial recognition captivate the imagination, for me it’s the everyday flows of information and working with people behind the scenes shows me how effective communication and hard work pays off!
5. Speaking of working behind the scenes: Working with diverse clients, and big clients to small, gives you an accurate picture of the crime stats in SA. You’ve got the inside scoop about the country, which areas are improving or degrading, and where things are going, giving you knowledge of how to prevent issues from happening to you! Being part of the tech-focussed Off-site Security industry (as small as my par is) still makes me feel like small contributions add up to help South Africa become a tech capital of the continent. It feels like we’re one step closer to having the real Wakanda equivalent!
What makes it frustrating?
1. The pace of change: criminals adapt, technology becomes outdated, new technology needs to be integrated, keeping up with the rest of the world, keeping up with new innovations, amazing technology takes time to become available to the public at an affordable price.
2. People using outdated tech or underutilising their technology: Some clients assume that firstly the tech they installed back in the 90s is still effective, and secondly that the technology they may buy is a simple plug-and-play device that will continue to function forever once installed. While some outdated technology can still work, and some devices need little maintenance, this may leave your security underutilized. Modern devices can often do more for less, and can often integrate seamlessly into security monitoring software more effectively.
3. Seeing the collateral damage of poor security: Short-sightedness, cut corners, or budget constraints can lead to sites falling behind the curve. Hearing of businesses being targeted by criminals and having to close indefinitely is heartbreaking. The unnecessary loss of jobs and the effect of crime on the global image of South Africa affects us all!
4. Seeing how hopeless people feel in the future of SA: Following on that point, it’s easy to focus on the challenges, but without context of how successful some interventions can be, people may have a pessimistic view of the future of SA. The current state of the nation undoubtedly has its challenges, but they are worth taking on.
5. Being constrained by load-shedding and other SA-specific issues: Loadshedding… need I say more! The catch-22 of needing capital to spend on security technology to prevent theft, while also needing to spend it on ways to power the existing technology, and the effects of constrained budgets on the economy as a whole further delays what needs to be done to effectively enhance people’s security.
6. (And finally, a personal frustration) Being a social media/ marketing manager in the industry, but having to adhere to strict confidentiality clauses! : Trust me, the stories I hear and the technology innovations I know are going on would blow your mind! And walking the line between wanting to celebrate our successes while remaining respectful of our clients’ privacy is a challenge at times!