FOR MOST OF US HERE IN THE UNITED STATES, March marks one year since our lives — both personally and professionally — turned upside down as the result of a disease scientists called COVID-19. Seemingly overnight our normal daily routines were labeled potentially dangerous; many events and activities, including school, were canceled or brought online; and businesses across the country were encouraged to have their employees work from home. Accommodations that were at first expected to last only a few weeks have now been impacting us in ways large and small for a whole year. What has changed in that ensuing year, particularly in the security industry?
That is the question addressed in this month’s cover story, “COVID-19 & the Security Industry: One Year Later”. SDM’s Managing Editor Courtney Wolfe spoke with sources across the security industry to ask what impact the virus has had on their businesses and the industry overall, and found many changes, both positive and negative. “There was no shortage of doom and gloom about the state of the economy throughout the year, but many in the security industry fared much better than they originally expected — some, in fact, had their best year yet,” she writes.
From the changes to UL standards that helped monitoring employees work from home when necessary, to validating the industry’s status as “essential,” to technology trends that swiftly ramped up or changed course to meet new demands, the security industry has been through a lot and — as it always has before in times of crisis — adapted and largely thrived.
Yet it strikes me that we are all still somewhat stunned by the rapid shift in what we used to consider normal. We haven’t seen an in-person tradeshow in a year; and many won’t this year, either, as so far those that are having in-person components are also offering hybrid and online options (much like my children’s school). We are all still waiting to see what happens tomorrow, or next week or next month, and most are still waiting for a vaccine. Even then it is uncertain still how the vaccines will deal with new variants that are just emerging and when those who have been vaccinated can ditch the masks and other cautionary measures. In many ways the “new” normal still feels as new as it did a year ago — but at what point is it just “normal?”
Sure, life will eventually resemble more closely what it was before this time a year ago. We will at some point be able to go about our day without remembering to wear a mask; travel for business and pleasure; and see friends without worrying about a “bubble.” But other things may permanently be altered. How many remote employees will stay that way, and what will that mean for your commercial office space customers? Will the security monitoring industry continue to offer more remote options for its workforce? Will touchless technologies and elevated temperature sensors continue to be as appealing when the memory of COVID-19 fades? Only time will tell, but as Northland Controls CEO Pierre Trapanese says in the article, “Integrators and dealers should continue to be cautious and watch what they spend their resources on so they don’t overextend themselves in the short term, but they should also be preparing for a wave of demand. Make sure your house is in order before the next wave of demand comes over.”