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An interview with Mike Reddington

December 5, 2021 by Alistair Enser

This week, I had the great opportunity to put a few questions to Mike Reddington, Chief Executive of the BSIA (British Security Industry Association).

The BSIA is a trade association that represents more than 70% of UK companies operating in the professional security industry sector and is recognised as ‘the voice of the professional security industry’.

Mike has worked in the security industry for over 25 years. He began his career in electronic engineering before moving into sales, marketing and management, rising into senior roles for a variety of leading blue-chip organisations, such as Honeywell and ADI. He is passionate about the industry with a commitment and drive to identify and develop standards, quality, best practice and professionalism within the security industry.

Mike is also a board director of Skills for Security which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the BSIA. Their primary goal is providing apprenticeship training for the security industry sector. Mike also holds an MBA from Leeds University Business School.

 Mike, what challenges do you believe the security industry faces, and where do the opportunities lie?

The professional security industry faces multiple sector specific challenges, but something which affects all areas is the challenge of demonstrating to the Public how important security is as potentially the fourth emergency service. Parts of the industry have thrived throughout the Pandemic, especially with the formal recognition of those operating in our sector as key workers.

There is however still work to be done in raising the perceptions of the professional security industry which we are doing in collaboration with various security bodies in our ‘Hidden Workforce – Perceptions’ campaign. Opportunities for our industry lays in increasing our communication and engagement with the General Public, Government and Police Authorities of our collaborative efforts across multiple organisations. One individual can start a change, but it takes the masses to make a difference.

Do you think that the acceptance and adoption of security technology have accelerated post-Covid?

Yes, and the first area of growth post-covid that the BSIA have witnessed across the security industry is a familiar story across many industries – the rapid increase and acceptance of digital solutions. We would like to praise the resilience of the sector along with the cohesion we’ve seen between businesses to support customers’ changing needs.

Several existing technologies have seen rapid expansion in acceptance and usage in new applications such as – Thermal Imaging Cameras which have proved popular as a first point of infection detection with body temperature checks at points of entry to buildings; Increase in Contactless Access Control solutions; along with Occupancy and People Flow Management solutions, which are likely to be with us for some time in the ‘new normal’ as buildings reduce occupancy by as much as 50% to comply with social distancing recommendations and keep further pandemic outbreak risks to a minimum.

Finally, within the security industry we constantly strive to balance privacy with security. What is your view on the use of analytics, facial recognition, tracking and other potentially intrusive technologies?

With anything new and unknown there is always a potential element of mistrust, especially if there are possibilities to abuse its usage. Our membership strives to bring any industry/technology issues to the attention of the sector and promote a quality and professional security industry, which can result in identification of Best Practice, Codes of Practice, and British and/or European standards. A key example of this is around the usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automatic Facial Recognition (AFR). We currently have an AFR Special Interest Group (SIG) whose work focusses on exactly those technologies mentioned above.

The BSIA has recently published a top-level guide to AFR, the first of its kind globally, which focuses on the legal and ethical usage of this technology. As a result of the creation of this AFR legal and ethical usage guide and the lobbying work with Government representatives the previously proposed moratorium or ban on AFR has been rescinded. Through the BSIA the industry has a clear voice and representation in multiple committees both nationally and internationally. We are delighted this guide has now been put forward to be considered for development into a British Standard and we are eagerly awaiting confirmation of adoption.

This is a reason why trade associations are of significant importance to their respective industries, without whom further development on tackling new technology acceptance and adoption would be extremely challenging.

Many thanks, Mike!