Technology is critical for construction site security

The UAE is aiming to achieve one of the lowest crime rates in the world, but construction companies must still invest in the protection of their digital and physical assets


Dubai and Abu Dhabi enjoy a reputation for being among the safest cities in the world, and figures announced by the Ministry of Interior in April revealed that 98.6% of UAE residents report feeling a sense of safety and security, even at night.

The UAE is striving to achieve one of the lowest crime rates in the world by 2021, and official figures indicate that the country is moving in the right direction. Statistics unveiled by HH Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, point to a year-on-year decline in crime rates: the number of crimes per 100,000 people stood at 119.8 in 2011, 110.2 by the end of 2013, 90.6 in 2014, and 83.8 in 2015.

While this represents a steady fall in the number of crimes per capita, construction companies should not become complacent when it comes to protecting their assets, and ensuring that their sites are safe and secure.

Site security remains an important issue. However, security services provider Transguard’s chief security officer, Tim Mundell, tells Construction Week that all too often, the matter is neglected: “During the tender process, security is often given a cursory thought, and in some instances it is overlooked altogether, but it is here that we can really make the difference.

“This is a global challenge for the construction industry, but a number of small changes and deterrents can have a hugely positive impact.” 

Mundell adds that innovation and technology are key to security success for construction companies.

Firas Sinno, founder and chief executive officer at security management specialist Keytech Security Solutions, agrees security is too often overlooked. In a column for Construction Week earlier this year, he warned against the dangers of failing to invest in reliable security mechanisms. 

Mundell and Sinno also agree that contractors and developers should explore the implementation of innovation, technology, and analytics reporting, in order to beef up security. Using biometric technology systems, says Sinno, may help to eradicate deception, prevent the hiring of illegal staff, stop unauthorised site access, and limit the number of working hours to those set out under local labour laws. 

Both Mundell and Sinno suggest technology is critical to site security, and as building information modelling software is being used more systemically, online site security has become an increasingly important issue.

With a growing number of developers storing detailed building information digitally, questions about the ability of local firms to fend off the increasing threat of cyberattack are starting to be raised. 

Globally, demand for cyber security has increased and businesses in all sectors are aware of the damage a cyberattack can cause. For instance, in April, regional ride-hailing app Careem was forced to admit that the data of 14 million customers had been stolen by cyber criminals. 

Honeywell, a software-industrial company that delivers industry-specific solutions to a range of sectors, is taking strides to address cyber threats. In February, it opened an industrial cyber security centre at its Middle East headquarters in Dubai. The centre tests the preparedness of its clients by simulating real-time cyberattacks. 

Transguard Group has also taken steps to address cyber security. A partnership with Etisalat Digital aims to equip Transguard with round-the-clock digital security solutions across its information technology network. By tapping into Etisalat Digital’s expertise in the online security field, Transguard Group aims to stay ahead of the current and future cybercrime wave and protect its clients from cyberattacks, malicious malware, and computer viruses. 

This is the technological know-how that Mundell suggests is key to site security, but he admits that less expensive precautions – such as fences, public notices, mobile security, and video surveillance – also remain useful tools of deterrence and detection on regional building sites. 

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Jun 29, 2020