Editor, IFSEC Global

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James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Global, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
January 7, 2021

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Trends

IFSEC Global’s trends in security 2021

So we’ve arrived in 2021. I think I can safely say that the majority of us will be glad to see the back of a year which has been defined by terms as apocalyptic as ‘pandemic’, ‘lockdown’ and ‘next slide please’. While we’re by no means ‘out of the woods’ the rollout of vaccination programmes worldwide does bring with it a glimmer of hope for some sense of normality to return this year. 

For the most part, the security industry has remained resilient throughout the global COVID pandemic, and 2020 witnessed several noteworthy trends. Below, I take a look at some of those that caught the eye.

1) Frictionless access control

Access control continues to evolve, and its next step seems likely to be in the provision of a secure, yet frictionless mechanism for entry. Our Physical Access Control Report demonstrated that ‘convenience’ was key for end-users in the specification of their next system – something that frictionless solutions can offer in abundance.

The development and increasing availability of trusted and secure biometrics technology provides integration specialists with the opportunity to offer seamless access experiences to employees, visitors and residents. Iris, facial and fingerprint recognition provides security managers with peace of mind, too – knowing that biometrics authentication is much more difficult to replicate or clone than a magnetic swipe card.

The use of mobile credentials, too, are also on the rise. As we discussed in our recent webinar with HID Global and Avolon, an access control system that utilises smartphones can make issuing and revoking credentials from a centralised management platform a much more efficient process – requiring no need for the physical pick-up of a card.

COVID-19 has only accelerated this trend. Businesses have been searching for new solutions that allow their employees and visitors to move in, out, and around their premises with minimal contact points, in an effort to provide ‘COVID-secure’ workplace environments.

Further reading:

2) Greater appreciation of video analytics

Video analytics are by no means new to security professionals. Their benefits have been touted for several years now, but the technology behind the software continues to evolve at a rapid rate. AI and deep learning software are now adding much greater value to surveillance cameras. Analytics software integrated within network connected cameras provides security operators with a much clearer picture of the current situation.

AI is making it possible for businesses to engage with actionable intelligence, as well as providing security departments with data to spot potential issues or threats before they arise. Object classification has improved significantly, so that devices are now able to differentiate between actual threats (e.g. a group of loitering individuals) and false alarms – a stray cat setting off alarms at 3AM in an operations centre.

Users are becoming more widely aware of the business operational benefits for the likes of retailers, whereby footfall analysis provides managers with an understanding of customer movements in store.

However, the onset of a pandemic truly showed how quickly analytics has advanced in surveillance systems in recent years. Within weeks, vendors had developed and updated their software with analytics to support businesses operate safely under whichever government guidelines they happened to fall under. While the likes of social distancing analytics, face mask detection, occupancy/density monitoring and elevated body temperature solutions may not all be necessities in the long-term, the speed at which the security sector can provide operational solutions has never been more clear.

Further reading:

3) Remote monitoring and servicing

With so many employees and businesses transitioning away from the office to work from home in 2020, ‘remote working’ was one of the most talked-about challenges resulting from the pandemic. However, in the context of security, it may have also accelerated the shift towards remote monitoring and servicing.

The uptake of IoT connected products only continues to increase and while there remains concern over the cyber security of these devices, it is allowing for a more remote approach to security. Engineers can monitor the health and run diagnostics checks of surveillance cameras from afar, while the speed of communication now means guarding services can be outsourced to external operation centres, with responders only needed on site if a genuine alarm is received. This move has been supported by the growth of reliable video analytics, reducing the number of false alarms.

For installers straddling security and fire, there is also a growing appreciation of how IoT fire detection devices can be used for remote monitoring of properties, too.

Further reading:

4) Protection of the public

The Manchester Arena attack in May 2017, alongside several other high-profile incidents in cities worldwide, has put the protection of people in public spaces at the forefront. Governments are increasingly vigilant of potential attacks – the UK raised its terror threat level to ‘severe’ in November – while physical security professionals are highlighting the need to implement more robust legislation and processes to protect public areas.

The Protect Duty, or Martyn’s Law, is set to play a role in the accountability and mandating of event security in the UK, particularly as the world looks to move towards the return of spectators to venues in 2021 – vaccine rollout success depending.

In addition, there has been a shift towards the pedestrianisation of city centres, as a result of a combination of efforts to provide outdoor seating during the pandemic and reduce vehicle emissions in urban environments. City planners will need to ensure there are security solutions are effective and fit for purpose, to protect against Vehicle-as-Weapons and similar attacks.

Further reading:

5) Cyber security and physical security continue to move closer together

The gap is closing between cyber and physical, it seems. Evidence from surveys undertaken by IFSEC Global indicates that professionals on both sides are cooperating more than ever, with each understanding the impact connected security systems are having on the overall enterprise network. Following this, there is a growing appreciation of cyber secure practices, as organisations such as the BSIA and IASME continue to drive awareness.

More still needs to be done, however. The potential vulnerabilities within insecure IoT devices are becoming more obvious, while the physical security supply chain needs to ensure surveillance cameras, access control solutions and other devices are not a weak link in the enterprise network, providing access for hackers to steal data or hold companies ransom. Experts believe that all stakeholders have a part to play in this process, and argue that the best protection may come from converging cyber and physical security operations completely.

Further reading:

Are there other trends you’ve spotted in the sector? Feel free to provide your thoughts in the comments section below and share within your networks! 

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