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Remote security audit in social sector responses

by Ana Maria Oteanu - Senior Programme Manager, Safer Edge

When you speak about remote working in security risk management you will hear plenty of strong opinions. Some organisations are vehemently opposed and others are open to the idea. However, the Covid-19 response has imposed remote service delivery on almost all types of security services for the next few years. This is only partly due to travel restrictions and potential health threats but due to  the potential significant savings stemming from advancements in use of communication technology. Remote delivery in the initial Covid-19 response gives organisations the opportunity to consider types of work they haven’t previously as well as building it into restructuring for the future.

Safer Edge has been remote delivering several risk services for several years now. The draw of remote delivery was a combination of innovation and a more efficient use of resources. Remote security audits are one type of service delivered both traditionally and in person as well as remotely. Remote audit saves auditor travel time and expenses, improves the efficiency and the overall quality of the process, as well as being eco-friendly. Audits can be conducted on offices in locations difficult to accesss. The project manager and auditors work with increased flexibility and shorter turn-around times. Very few organisations audit their security processes and therefore don’t know the standard of duty of care they are providing.  In the past two years, we’ve worked successfully with CARE International to deliver 16 security audits – 8 of which were delivered remotely.

Three components of a traditional audit are affected when the audit is performed remotely.

  1. Interviewing: Different time zones, language barriers and low internet bandwidth need to be considered.

  2. Document & Record Verification: In person it is easier to physically observe and verify documents and records. However, with cloud technology a shared file can be set up and documents contributed to remotely. Online surveys and other records can be analysed from almost any location.  

  3. Observation of Tasks & Processes: With skilled use of video calls it is possible to have real-time surveillance of critical operations an, which will reduce the need for on-site auditing if that was initially required.

The general framework for security audits in particular and security services in general are changing. Are we ready for the future as it unfolds? As more and more restrictions are globally imposed, with governments dealing with both health and economic pressures, the answer should be yes.

Justin EH Smith, a professor of history and philosophy at the University of Paris, made an interesting observation about life in quarantine observing “there is liberation in this suspension of more or less everything”. And even if our everyday life seems very unreal for the time being, our post-pandemic selves will thank us for being innovative, creative and mostly kind during “these strange times”.


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