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Getting fit for the future

May 20, 2024 by Alistair Enser

My fourth post in as many weeks is marked by a continued plateauing in the number of deaths and new cases in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe. There is a suggestion that this is true in the UK, also.

At the same time, there are concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment for those at the frontline of the fight against the virus, and growing doubt whether the Government will reach its aim of 100,000 tests a day after all.

We are also gaining more insight into the disease itself. As of 18 April, 52% of deaths in UK hospitals from the virus have been of these aged 80 or over. A massive 92% of deaths have been in those aged 60 and above. The virus is particularly harmful to those with underlying health conditions: nine in 10 over those that died in March had pre-existing illnesses, such as heart disease and respiratory problems.

Where next?

As I write, we enter the second phase of lockdown and, with the fight against the pandemic beginning to show results, attention has turned to when and how the lockdown might be eased. The UK Government has come under pressure to explain what its exit strategy is, at a time when others – such as France – are doing precisely that. Germany, Denmark and Austria are already unwinding their rules.

Everyone has their own view on the situation, but there is consensus about the way the UK has reacted to the pandemic in comparison to, say, the United States. There, the lockdown has been implemented sporadically on contradictory federal and state advice, policed inefficiently, and vehemently opposed in the last few days, seemingly with the encouragement of President Trump.

Yet even if the UK has respected the lockdown better than its US cousins, the US situation does point to a hard truth. In essence, people will not accept being locked up with no end in sight, while the economy must start to get back to normal functioning if long term, perhaps irreparable, damage is not to be inflicted to the economy.

A roadmap to normality

Caroline Fairburn, Director General of the CBI, has suggested a recovery in three phases: restart, revive and then renew. “We have begun to think about what a future might look like that puts public health at the heart but nonetheless enables the economy to rebuild,” she said. Lockdown has her immediate support, however: “We support the lockdown extension. But if we don’t plan for it, we won’t be able to implement it as well as we could have.”

As of Sunday 19 April, newspaper reports suggest that the Government will implement a ‘traffic light’ strategy where lockdown is relaxed in three distinct phases. Schools would open as soon as 11 May, as well as non-essential shops. An ‘amber’ phase would see more shops and businesses open in late May or early June, with all employees urged to return to work and some small social gatherings permitted. Pubs and restaurants and larger events such as sport and concerts would not be phased in until July or later in the summer. Life for those over 70, meanwhile, would remain restricted, and form the ‘red’ phase of the return to normality.

New directions

This phased approach makes sense. As we have seen in the news over the last few weeks, many industries cannot simply ‘turn the taps back on’ and open the doors. Publicans, for example, will need sufficient notice to get stocks ready in advance of reopening. They may have to install Perspex barriers around bars and remove seating to encourage some social distancing, even in this most social of places. Pubs are but one example of a service that cannot be mobilised very quickly, and which may look very different when they do reopen.

At Reliance High-Tech, we have continued to successfully serve many customers in the Critical National Infrastructure space throughout the pandemic. That said, we have been presented with challenges, particularly where we have had to rely on physical equipment and hardware.

I believe the pandemic is going to be a catalyst for more companies to embrace virtual services in the future. These may range from remote services with virtual engineers, to the removal of hardware and a move to a more fluid, cloud-based service model which will make them more resilient to threats like a pandemic in the future.

Traditionally, the security industry has been bound by hardware. Now is the time to take a deep look at ourselves and untie our binds. We can continue to serve our customers in a difficult environment through the use of innovative technology. Yet this is only possible if everyone in the industry buys into this vision and develops the skills to deliver these solutions. End users, meanwhile, must be more willing to invest and embrace the technology that will keep them protected in the future.

Stay safe and, for the moment at least, stay home where you can.