01 Jun “It is no longer acceptable just to provide manned guarding services” – Interview
SME speaks to Mohammad Almasri, security manager at manned security specialists Emrill about the company’s vision for a sector that merges the best of technology with manned guarding
How has the manned security sector in the region changed over the last five years?
The UAE’s manned guarding sector has been steadily growing over the past five years. Notable developments include the introduction of minimum wage requirements in February 2013 by the Security Industry Regulatory Agency (SIRA), with further amendments made on September 2016 relating to employee allowance increments. These changes have helped security companies such as Emrill to enhance their services and as a result we’re now able to attract and provide customers with the highest calibre of security guards available.
More recently, the security market in the UAE has also become more competitive. Overall the market is levelling in terms of pricing and therefore Emrill has differentiated itself from others through quality service delivery, the building of strong customer partnerships and a range of staff welfare initiatives. Key customers in the UAE market understand the importance of the security function in their business and they know that the cheapest security providers are not necessarily always the best when it comes to quality of service delivery and the protection of employees, customers and assets.
At Emrill we have made a strong commitment to the welfare of our nearly 8,000 FM and security employees, offering award winning in-house training, a range of health and safety initiatives, high standard of staff accommodation and a dedicated welfare and recreation team.
Can you talk in a bit more detail how you are integrating security technology such as incident management and intruder detection technologies with your manned security offering and what other technologies you are employing?
At Emrill We are keen to bring a fresh approach and new innovation to our business and the industry in general. It’s clear that we live in a real-time world now, where just about everything is available online and on-demand. Emrill is working towards the development and implementation of a centralised platform for all security services. This system will be tailored to individual Emrill’s contracts and provide an incident management system with live data and incident escalation available across all client contracts.
Emrill is also working closely with clients to encourage the greater usage of video analytics systems. Video management software can automatically review innumerable hours of surveillance video that a security guard or system manager has to watch on any one day. Video surveillance systems use analytics to automatically identify specific incidents that security personnel may need to see, providing a more efficient surveillance system. Key features include motion detection, facial recognition and automatic license plate reading, as well as people counting and dwell time monitoring for retail stores. Recognising long lines at checkout and sending alerts are added benefits of the system.
You are looking to expand into the retail and the hospitality sectors – what challenges do you think these sectors in the region are facing security-wise and how can what you offer help meet them?
Following our recent successes in winning security contracts with Emaar in Dubai Downtown Master Community and Dubai Marina, we are looking to further expand our security operation. Emrill’s security management team has extensive knowledge in running security operations in shopping malls, retail outlets and hotels throughout the UAE. Viewing clients as value partners is the key to our success and our account managers work closely with clients to provide world-class security and ‘smart’ guarding solutions. Furthermore, at contract commencement stage, Emrill follows established risk management procedures to identify and assess risks in advance, and then implements adequate measures and controls to counter these risks in the future.
There are a number of potential risks that can affect the retail and hospitality sectors, such as fire, robbery, burglary, theft and vandalism, as well the ever present risks of terrorism, extremism, and natural disasters. These risks need to be identified in advance and controlled through the use of physical and technology based security solutions.
Are you working with any particular technology partners in terms of the technology you offer?
As security service providers, Emrill has made a commitment to innovation and digital transformation, and we are always open to work with any partner or supplier that can provide unique solutions to benefit our clients, staff, and communities served.
In early 2018, the ‘Emrill Innovation & Digital Transformation Initiative’ was launched to build upon a company-wide environment of innovation and future proofing, with a range of initiatives trialling IIoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Digital Learning and Robotic technology.
Tell us a bit more about the lone worker GPS system you provide?
The Emrill Lone Worker Device combines the latest GPS and GPRS technology to provide lone workers with additional safety measures in the event that an Emrill colleague collapses, is knocked down or injured. The device recognises a fall, automatically sending an SMS alert with GPS location to predefined numbers monitored by the Emrill 24/7 call centre. Emrill has a number of colleagues who are lone working in shift patterns at various locations, making it vital that safety initiatives are in place. For example, a night shift security officer guarding a construction site could work alone using this device, and in the event of an incident the 24/7 call centre could be automatically alerted. The device builds staff confidence and provides reassurance that should a situation unfold, they can seek help and support around the clock. Furthermore, the device displays where and when the incident occurred and allows for two-way communication. This panic alarm system mitigates the risks of lone working, using technology to improve health and safety standards while allowing for leaner and safer manpower resourcing on sites. The device was highly commended for technology implementation at the fmME Awards in 2017.
Do you think the industry is looking for more of a one stop shop when it comes to combing manned and security technology services? Have to two areas been regarded as two separate in the past?
Yes, absolutely. We want to work closely with clients to merge technology with manned guarding and provide them with cost effective and ‘smart’ security solutions. These two areas were separated in the past, but since the security market has grown significantly in the Middle East over recent years, the entire UAE security industry must continue to provide a range of innovations while combining both services in line with HH Mohammad Bin Rashid’s vision of moving Dubai towards being a smart city.
Has manned security seemed rather ‘old fashioned’ – how are you updating that perception?
My personal opinion is that it’s no longer acceptable to provide only manned guarding services. The entire Middle East security sector needs to continue to work with regional suppliers and our industry colleagues, while also attending security conferences around the world to share ideas and ensure the best international security practices are brought back and deployed here in the UAE and throughout the Middle East.
What sort of training do you provide? Can you tell me a bit more about what goes on at your training centre and how this relates to what SIRA requires?
Established over 15 years ago, Emrill has a dedicated ‘Emrill for Excellence’ training centre providing in-house training courses for our employees.
Pioneered by Emrill, the purpose-built ‘Emrill for Excellence’ training centre encompasses:
- 9 fully-equipped classrooms
- Mock-up “real-life” office, residential, and commercial environments
- Uniformed mannequins for personal presentation and grooming training
- Colour-coded static displays of equipment and materials
- Additional ‘airside’ training room at Dubai Airport
At Emrill, we recognise that high quality and focused training is essential to the success of our overall business. As such, all levels and grades of our staff receive on-going training tailored to the unique needs of each individual client contract. Over 6,000 FM and security staff received training last year and in 2017 this was a contributing factor to the company recording a 17% increase in internal staff promotions through fostering talent development in this way.
We always strive for high quality service delivery, Prior to the deployment of security teams at any particular site, we provide extensive training with a range of modules focusing on customer service, UAE culture awareness, and pre-SIRA training (advance preparation for all SIRA topics). Once SIRA training commences, Emrill employees receive fire fighting and first aid training together with newly introduced training at the Dubai Police Academy covering topics such as how to deal with people of determination during crises and disasters amongst other things.