Sanofi is a global and diversified healthcare leader with U.S. headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J. The company discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs within three core global business units: Specialty Care, Vaccines and General Medicines as well as a Consumer Healthcare group. Sanofi has more than 100,000 employees worldwide with a presence in over 100 countries. Sanofi is one of the companies involved in the research and development of a COVID-19 vaccine in cooperation with the United States government.

When the coronavirus pandemic was on the horizon in early 2020, Sanofi’s North America Security Operations & Technology team (NA Security) stepped up to the plate, implementing wide-reaching response and operational continuity efforts across the region to guard the safety and health of its employees and their families.

A critical way that Sanofi’s NA Security team got involved at the onset of the pandemic was by creating and implementing a number of in-house dashboards as well as carefully researching and implementing necessary technologies for proper COVID-19 response that ultimately saved the company from investing additional money into unnecessary outside solutions.

For example, spearheaded by Senior Director, NA Security Operations and Technology, Bhavesh Patel, the NA Security team developed an in-house application using the security database where all managers could select “business-critical” designations for employees where appropriate to maintain business continuity. Previously, there was no existing centralized process to document business-critical employees, nor a centralized data point to assign this designation that was visible to both managers and the security team.

“An efficient and secure process to get essential employees onsite safely to continue critical business functions was vital. Since this situation was a first for many companies, including Sanofi, there was not yet a fully comprehensive process in place that suited all parts of the business in North America,” says Patel, who is part of the North American Security leadership team reporting to John Ennis, Head of North America Security at Sanofi. “The tool, which links to and uses data from our security system, easily allows our team to verify the business-critical status and restore access to only those necessary employees. Because of this, the company has been able to continue critical operations throughout this time.”

In addition, Patel says the security team created a contact-tracing application to aid the Occupational Health (OH) and Health Safety and Environment (HSE) departments, where the security team could look up an access control badge and receive data on who also used the same card readers within seconds of the other badge, in the event that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

In an effort to capture occupancy data, temperature screening results and other COVID-19 related security data, the security team developed an internal, centralized dashboard with the metrics to give security and site leaders greater real-time awareness and information regarding locations and employees.

During his tenure, Patel has held a wide-range of physical security and technology roles within Sanofi. Currently, he is responsible for managing the NA Security Operations and Technology program, using technology as enterprise applications to enable the business. Using a global virtual campus philosophy, Patel also helped build a widely benchmarked Global Security Operations Center (GSOC) in Cambridge, Mass. that delivers protective and event-based monitoring for more than 300 locations, networks, product supply chains, and global travelers. In his role, Patel leads cross-cutting process improvement and technology integration efforts.

Over the past three years, Patel has overseen three remote GSOCs in North America which provide redundancy to the Cambridge facility, as well as maintain virtual capabilities. The foresight of virtual GSOC preparation enabled Sanofi’s security team to pivot immediately amid the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing impacted security analysts to cover their shifts remotely without interruption.

“At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we divided and deployed the staff to three different locations using our back-up GSOCs. We also utilized our virtual GSOC (V-GSOC), where we can receive phone calls on a laptop and operate all our technology remotely anywhere using a secure VPN,” Patel says. And the preparation came in handy, from the beginning and through the height of the pandemic as the GSOC has produced and distributed more than 200 briefings related to COVID-19 to senior management and functional partners in North America.

Beyond dashboards, data collection and remote security operations, the NA Security team at Sanofi has had a frontline view to site operations and business continuity and has worked with Occupational Health, Health, Safety and Environment, and Site Leaders across North American locations to initiate site-entry protocols to allow employees on-site when necessary and continue operations without interruption, with efforts that include temperature screening, travel activity and symptom questionnaires, and PPE distribution. The security team also manages disabling access control badges for staff or employees quarantined due to COVID-19 infection or close contact as well as enabling badges when OH approves a return to work.

As time continues on and the landscape of the pandemic has evolved, Sanofi’s Security team has evolved its responses and efficiency as well, according to Patel, including implementing portable toll-booth-style buildings and awnings to provide shelter for its guard service to conduct screenings as well as for vehicle occupants being screened. The team has implemented touchless visitor management, a new process for the enterprise, which allows visitors to use their mobile device to check in.

The team has taken a leadership role in establishing single points of entry at facilities, facilitating signage and entry procedures at access points, assisting HSE with sanitizing dispensers and mask distribution, as well as acting as the first point of contact for employees to ensure screenings are completed, questionnaires are answered, access control is valid and mask wearing and social distancing is maintained while on site.

“Each location [has] had its own challenges and our efforts to remediate them have resulted in a great respect for our entire security program,” Patel says. “Officers at all sites demonstrated extreme dedication and professionalism during these difficult times which resulted in Security strengthening relationships with HSE, Legal, Occupational Health, and Site Leadership and new relationships being established.”