Late last year, I found myself waiting in the meeting room of a busy office building in the UAE when I heard a piercing shriek from the office’s pantry. One of the office’s occupants could not locate her meal in the pantry’s large refrigerator, where she said she’d placed it earlier that day.
The issue was raised with the building’s housekeeping staff, who pointed to a security team manning the CCTV cameras monitoring the pantry. Fortunately, a considerable amount of time was saved when the meal was discovered in one of the pantry’s smaller fridges.
In the grand scheme of the Middle East’s facility management operations, it might seem almost obvious to prioritise cybersecurity or entry access points over pantry surveillance. However, in the few minutes that it was ‘missing’, the lunch bag highlighted some key concerns surrounding regional security and surveillance programmes.
Most of the Middle East’s newer buildings – especially those planned or completed since Dubai’s victorious bid to host Expo 2020 was announced – are equipped with security systems and equipment that comply with global best practices. Global surveillance operations are making strides amid the advent of trends such as Internet of Things (IoT) and big data management. In July 2015, Frost & Sullivan even announced that the Middle East’s homeland security market will expand three-fold over its current figures to $34bn by 2020.
The trajectory of this growth will depend on how FM professionals organise their security investments not only after a property has been constructed, but also during its building design stage. As Marwan Khoury, regional marketing manager for Axis Communications Middle East and Africa explains, infrastructure arrangements are a deciding factor during security installation works.
He adds: “Today, most new office buildings in the GCC are constructed with progressive IT infrastructure [in place], which is a big advantage while setting up a surveillance system.
“The challenges we commonly face crop up with old buildings which lack modern infrastructure, thereby increasing the cost as well as the deployment time. In such cases, we have to build the required infrastructure from scratch to ensure the optimum functionality of the solution being installed.”
FM outfits need no reminders about the significance of security operations. However, the Middle East’s upcoming high-profile and high-value buildings will demand revamped FM operations that reflect the expertise of technology suppliers and construction experts. Until then, a Post-It on your lunch bag might just have to do.