Firts published on BSIA web site in February 2013
This is both a first and a last; the first Lone Worker blog for the BSIA and the last blog before the Lone Worker Group becomes a fully-fledged Section in its own right.
This is a good thing; a New Year means new beginnings and it reflects a time at which the Lone Worker market is coming of age.
So first let me look backward and then forward. 10 years ago there was no such thing as a Lone Worker market. Those of us in at the start had to create it from scratch – and it was hard work. It needed a belief and a good dash of optimism as we lurched forward. There were a number of significant milestones;
- creation of a British Standard at an early stage which gave structure, discipline and credibility
- appreciation by Lone Worker suppliers that this was about service not technology
- acceptance by ACPO that Lone Worker devices did not result in huge numbers of false alarms and were not a problem for their control rooms and response services
- the impact of the very large NHS contract
- first prosecution under the new Corporate Manslaughter Act – which was for a Lone Worker
- the start of the BSIA Lone Worker group
- technical advances resulting in more capable and practical devices
- advent of downloadable apps for smartphones
- entry into the market of large companies like G4S, Mitie and Securitas
- expansion into Lone Worker monitoring by an increasing numbers of ARCs.
Perhaps this period from 2003 to 2012 is best described as a ‘period of education’ for both suppliers and customers; suppliers who discovered what customers really wanted and customers who understand that paying attention to the needs of their Lone Workers really is important for their businesses.
So much for the past, what of the future? I believe the ‘period of education’ will turn into a ‘period of expansion’. There are probably about 140,000 Lone Worker devices in use at present and many more low risk employees using low level non-standard services.
I believe the next 12 months will see:
- the number of devices double – despite difficult trading conditions
- moves into international markets
- the introduction of more smartphone apps
- entry into the Lone Worker market of established companies already supplying other location based services such as asset and vehicle tracking
- development of the BSIA Lone Worker Section leading to increasing differentiation between companies in the Section and those outside it
- development of the consumer market
- greater focus on training in all aspects of personal safety
Making forecast for the following year is a bit of a mugs game. Fortunately if a week is a long time in politics, then a year in the security industry is long enough for most to forget what happened 12 months ago.
We shall see.