Investing in Security for 2021 and Beyond

By: Jon Polly | Mar 02, 2021

The COVID-19 Pandemic is fully matured, even spawning new mutations of the virus.  But the light at the end of the tunnel may be near.  A year ago no one thought they would be wearing masks and eating in 50% filled restaurants in August, 2020, let alone today.  The Pandemic has seen companies, small and large, suffer tremendously.  Many of us have furloughed employees, possibly multiple times over the last 12 months.  Our industry is strong, and resilience is something most integrators know.  What does resilience look like?  Integrators have to change how they do business because businesses have changed how they do business.  Change is hard, but in order to be resilient, we must accept change.  The last year has caused customers to realize they care less about what is being sold and more about how it will help them accomplish their goals.  This is prompting technology shifts in our industry to meet those goal demands.   

Looking at 2021, here are some thoughts on key trends in the industry that will affect both the short and long term.  Acceptance of these trends may pay dividends to the early adopters as the next few years unfold.   

COVID Technology for Future Use 

By May 2020, almost every camera manufacturer had a thermal camera available to be sold that would detect fevers.  Many of these have been installed, some with questionable effectiveness.   By August 2020, almost every access control company had a “touchless” or “hands-free” reader.  Visualization companies and visitor management got in on the action with real-time occupancy monitoring systems and more.   

These technologies have mostly worked for the customer.  But what happens after COVID?  When the Pandemic is cleared and everyone stops using hand sanitizer, wiping down surfaces every 15 minutes, the 6-foot lines get pulled off the ground, and people get back to life, what happens?  While this may seem like a pipe dream today, it will happen.  When it does, look at ways to use technology that has already been invested in for other uses.   

AI / Analytics 

Almost every camera manufacturer, VMS provider, and analytics company has used the words Deep Learning, Neural Network, and Artificial Intelligence.  These technologies are not going away. 

A camera, and by correlation a VMS, is a reactionary device.  It requires a physical person to review the video and make a decision until analytics were brought in.  It doesn’t matter if it is cloudbased, serverbased, or edgebased analytics.  Analytics are designed to make the reactionary camera become smarter.  It becomes proactive.  AI and Analytics allow cameras to initiate lockdowns when a weapon is detected, count kids, getting on buses to make sure the right number made itand automate tasks like Pay to Park.  Customers are looking for these laborsaving applications to enhance their quality of service to their employees and customers.  Integrators that invest in these technologies will accomplish customer goals and create strong end-user partnerships. 

Cybersecurity 

It has been reported that there were more cyber-attacks in the first half of 2020 than in all of 2019.  While the second half of 2020 reporting is not completed, it is safe to assume the trend continued.   

Most integrators do not worry about cybersecurity.  Most integrators think cybersecurity is someone else’s problem.  Those integrators would be wrong.  Any device that has network connections; IP camera, access control panel, server, etc., should be secured.  Ask for the manufacturer’s cybersecurity statement or cyber-hardening document since most have one.  If they do not, look elsewhere.  Hardening the security system is the responsibility of the integrator unless specifically excluded from the Scope of Work.   

Invest in Errors and Omissions Cyber Insurance, for any network touched that is not specifically excluded in regards to cybersecurity.  Every major business holds multiple cyber policies.  Failure to invest in an Errors and Omissions Cyber insurance policy may be the catalyst that bankrupts an integrator in the event of a cyber-attack.   

Unified Ecosystems  

Any number of today’s security manufacturers touts a “unified” system.  What does that mean?  Unified platforms have become a marketing term used by manufacturers with different meanings.  For some, it means an access control system with a built-in VMS.  For others, it means opensourced connections to technology partners who bring value to the end-user.  Still others, and probably the true unified platform, is an ecosystem that incorporates access control, video, alarm management, visitor management, and workflows.  While many end-users are looking for a “single pane of glass” system, determine the best unified system to provide to each client.   

While almost every access control company has a video component either embedded or integrated, the addition of Visitor Management has been called for by both the end-users and the industry.  Look to invest in Visitor Management applications that are part of the unified ecosystem, either directly through the manufacturer, or through third party integrations that complete the ecosystem.   

Emerging Tech  

Emerging Technology has always been around.  Many integrators view emerging tech as shiny widgets or hokey.  Yes, adopting emerging technology can be risky, however, most emerging tech is providing solutions for customer goals.  It can also be a calculated investment that brings big dividends.  While much of the industry will struggle with selling the same equipment; emerging tech can offer a new solution to old and new problems.  Below are a couple of emerging technologies that are already making some big waves.   

  • Rise of the Robots – Before COVID, security robots were being manufactured, but COVID helped push the security robots to the forefront.  These HD cameras on wheels provide video to the Security Operations Center while operating within a geofenced location.  As COVID has shown that employees are susceptible to infectious disease, robots are not.   
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM) Biometrics – IAM Biometrics may sound like access control biometrics, but they are much more.   IAM is 99.5% accuracy using different biometrics including face, finger vein, voice, and more.  IAM technology is only going to continue to grow.  
  • Private LTE – As 5G continues to grow, as does the IT / IoT / OT convergence, the use of private or secured LTE is going to offer rapidly deployable infrastructure with more bandwidth and limited costs.  Private LTE offers highly secure connectivity where connectivity is limited, and by running on IoT channels, even locations that have bad cell service can operate with ease on Private LTE. 
  • LiDAR Devices – Light Detection and Ranging devices are being implemented for analytics, 3D scanning, and more.  While most of these devices are still expensive, the value they bring to customers, either in visual reports or analytic data (especially where video is discouraged or prohibited) offers new answers to customer needs.   

Change 

The security industry has changed and will continue to change.  Change is and will always be hard.  Accepting that the industry has changed is the first step.  Investing in the change is the next step.  Not all of it will be easy, but the right investments will bring customers and revenue.  As we enter the “new normal”, challenges will bring change.  Lead the way.     

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