TL;DR – Mindset change needed for a secure Singapore.
Usually, when a company starts talking about cutting the number of workers needed, NTUC and the Labour Chief, Mr Chan Chun Sing, start to get worried. But Chan was excited to learn that CapitaLand Malls, partnering with Certis Cisco, will be reducing the number of security officers needed at some of its malls.
To understand why Chan is so excited about this, we need to look at some numbers.
Basically we now have some 40,000 active security officers, and this is way short of the total number of warm bodies we really need. If we don’t change the way things are done in the security industry, we will need another 10,000 to 20,000 security officers to properly secure our buildings and facilities. Given that the security threats we face are getting increasingly complex, our security needs will only increase.
That is why Chan isn’t worried that CapitaLand Malls is reducing the number of security officers it needs. Instead, he is happy that Certis Cisco has managed to work together with CapitaLand Malls to redesign jobs of security officers to achieve higher efficiency and productivity without compromising safety. In fact, security is likely to be enhanced by the various technological advancement and redesign of systems and design.
As a result of this business process re-engineering, the jobs of security officers are of a higher quality. Mr Chan explained:
“In the past you have maybe 90 security prowlers. You’ve 90 jobs of that kind. After the review, you’ve 60 of those – you save about 30 headcount – but you’ve created 10 new jobs that are behind the scenes, of a higher quality, and that allow us to pay our workers better and at the same time, the jobs are more meaningful.”
Those 10 new jobs that are behind the scenes refer to those that require the security personnel to work in the command centre instead of being deployed on the ground.
It starts with changing mindsets
But this change isn’t easy to come by.
Traditionally, in Singapore, the procurement of security services is fragmented. Service buyers will first buy technology and equipment separately. Thereafter, they will procure the manpower they think they require. This fragmentation results in much inefficiencies.
How inefficient? Very, very inefficient.
Consider this. Sweden has a population of about 9 million. They only need 20,000 security officers. Singapore, with a population of 5.6 million appears to need as many as triple the number of security officers. That’s how inefficient the security industry is.
It took a drastic change in mindset that led to the partnership between Certis Cisco and CapitaLand. This then allowed for an integrated approach of designing the entire process of securing CapitaLand’s malls. Processes were streamlined, appropriate technologies were identified and incorporated into the operations.
We can move upstream even more
Mr Steve Tan, Executive Secretary of the Union of Security Employees (USE), hopes that this partnership would prompt other property owners and security agencies to change their mindsets and adopt similar approaches. That will be a good start to re-energising our security industry and professionalising security officers. This will then translate to increase wages and better career prospects for security officers. You can read about this here.
Beyond this start, Chan thinks we should move even further upstream. He thinks that it is too late to wait until the building is built to start thinking about how it can be secured. Instead, we should start thinking about how the building is secured while it is being designed. Chan said,
“In addition to thinking about how to design iconic buildings, our architecture students should learn how to design buildings that can be efficiently operated and secured.”
In fact, this is not the first time Chan has been talking about this. In a blogpost he’d penned in January this year, he’d said,
“It perturbs me that many of our facilities are not “designed for security” at the outset. Somehow, security has become an afterthought and “cost component” to be minimised and managed downstream. There is insufficient awareness that if we don’t design a facility well with security considerations upfront, the “life-cycle cost” to provide security for that facility can be inordinately high downstream.”
To that end, Chan thinks that the government should consider legislating that all building designs go through a mandatory security assessment before they are approved for construction. If we are able make such a huge shift in our mindsets, then not only will our security officers have better quality jobs that pay more, we will also have a more secure Singapore.
But more importantly, in considering how to move the entire security industry forward, Chan brought up the four Ms needed to bring the sea change. The four Ms are Man, Machine, Method and Mindset, probably an improvisation from the 5ME and 6M’s in the Six Sigma.
Chan summed it up quite nicely,
In order for changes to happen, we need the four Ms, namely, Man, Machine, Method and Mindset. And Mindset is the root of everything, and will influence the other three Ms.