Top physical security trends for 2021

It’s that time of year again when we like to offer up our thoughts on the technologies and themes that will be trending in the coming months. 

After we shared our top three trends for 2020 last year, things took an unpredictable turn. COVID-19 hit and we all had to adapt to accommodate new health mandates.

As the pandemic continues to impact businesses everywhere, here’s what we believe will be the top physical security trends in 2021.

#1 Innovative solutions will enhance COVID-19 response

Genetec COVID-19 solutionsControlling social distancing has been critical during the pandemic. To adhere to health mandates, retailers, corporate offices, and others need to know how many people are in their facilities at any given point. This has generated a big demand for occupancy management solutions.

While most are using this technology to count people entering and exiting a building, organizations will continue expanding this technology across all areas of their facilities.

These spatial analytics are helping businesses unlock important insights about how people use their facilities. Long after the pandemic is over, they can extract data to learn:

- how many people are waiting in the lobby

- how many people are in the cafeteria

- how specific spaces are being used over time

This data then becomes the catalyst for building improvements that enhance the visitor, employee, or tenant experience.

#2 Cybersecurity risks will continue to rise

Genetec cybersafe solutionsFrom schools and hospitals to private businesses, there’s been a rise in cyberattacks over the last year. In Q3 of 2020 alone, Trends Micro reported that there were almost 4 million email threats and over 1 million hits on malicious URLs related to COVID-19. 

Much of this can be linked to the overnight shift towards remote work, which left organizations scrambling to keep business running while also trying to secure corporate assets. That said, even essential-service organizations such as hospitals and public institutions which require employees onsite were severely impacted by cybercrime.

In today’s world, a secure IT perimeter no longer exists. Physical security professionals must put measures in place to deter hackers and protect their businesses.

Choosing trusted vendors and deploying physical security solutions that come with layers of cyber defenses is critical. Security teams already know built-in encryptions, multi-factor authentication, and password management are the first lines of defense.

Beyond that, taking advantage of other features can improve cybersecurity posture. This includes having access to cybersecurity risk scoring, system vulnerability alerts, and automated reminders for firmware and hardware updates

#3 Businesses will focus on privacy protection

Genetec physical security solutions address privacyDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations implemented ‘fever detection’ devices and other new systems. In a rush to keep people safe, they may not have had the time to consider how potential privacy concerns could arise from this in the coming months to come.

In times of crisis, it’s even more important to keep privacy in mind. That’s why more businesses are re-evaluating how they collect, store, and share personal information. With big penalties at stake, they’re seeking ways to better comply with data and privacy protection laws.

We believe that public privacy concerns related to COVID-19 contact tracing and other social challenges will continue to grow. These sensitivities will require the physical security industry to address privacy head-on and find appropriate solutions.

For many physical security professionals, this means facing the reality that their legacy security equipment and older proprietary systems can’t support the fundamentals of data security and privacy. This will increase the demand for newer solutions engineered with privacy by design.

#4 Demand for cloud and hybrid cloud solutions will continue to grow

Genetec cloud solutionsAccording to a report titled Predictions 2021 by Forrester, global public cloud infrastructure will grow 35% to a market value of $120 billion in 2021. The pandemic is largely responsible for the surging demand for cloud. As online usage and remote work spiked, there’s been a global shift to accelerate digital transformation.

Even with this movement underway, a recent Genetec report titled the State of Physical Security 2020 found that only 20% of respondents had already deployed cloud solutions in their physical security environments.

To thrive in the long run, physical security professionals will need to follow the lead of other industries and their IT departments and determine how to best leverage cloud technology in the years ahead. In 2021, we believe more chief security officers will let go of the division between cloud and on-premises physical security systems and embrace a hybrid deployment model.

This allows them to implement specific systems or applications in the cloud while keeping existing on-premises systems.

A hybrid approach makes for an easier transition to the cloud. It can also be the simplest answer when deciding how to enhance scalability, redundancy, and availability to meet changing needs.

Beyond that, cloud offerings provide tons of added value. Physical security teams can quickly migrate to newer technologies, minimize hardware footprint, boost cybersecurity, and reduce costs.

#5 Greater focus on trust in the supply chain

Genetec physical security supply chainIn 2021, we believe businesses will continue to take more time to scrutinize physical security solution providers and manufacturers. This includes asking vendors more pointed questions about how they manage emerging threats, how forthcoming they are about product vulnerabilities and their partner ecosystem, and what their data and privacy policies are.

In recent years, we’ve seen some governments discouraging or banning the use of certain vendor products, claiming possible trust and security vulnerabilities.

As this trend continues, physical security professionals will seek out vendors that they feel can comply with more stringent guidelines.

#6 Organizations will invest in new access control and video analytics solutions

Access control and video surveillance migration GenetecIn a recent Genetec report, the State of Physical Security 2020, 54% of respondents said that access control will be a big project to focus on in 2021 and 46% said the same about video analytics.

Many physical security professionals know that upgrading to modern access control solutions will help them to reach new goals. This might include strengthening cyber hygiene or deploying new a physical identity management solution to automate employee and visitor access requests.

During the re-opening phases, the latter will help limit physical interaction while keeping people safe, buildings secured, and compliance in check.

Implementing video analytics further strengthens site security and delivers more insights. From people counting and directional flow to object left behind and crossline detection, analytics are giving security teams a clearer picture of what’s happening in their environment.

Remote teams can also stay top of threats while securing near-empty facilities during this pandemic. 

As machine learning continues to push the intelligence of analytics forward, users will see higher accuracy rates, and this will boost confidence in various edge and software-based analytics.

#7 Personalized solutions will address industry-specific needs

Industr-specific physical security solutions by GenetecPhysical security solutions have traditionally been cookie-cutter. While certain functionality might appeal to one business more than another, rarely have security platforms been designed to address a specific industry. That’s all changing.

Customized product portfolios are becoming increasingly popular as users' needs evolve and procuring enterprises seek more sophisticated solutions. Airports, cities, mass transit, cannabis, and other industries require solutions that are designed to help them manage their unique environments.

Since custom-built solutions cost a fortune to develop and maintain, vendors will be pushed to provide an easier and more affordable path to address these tailored industry needs.

Looking for a way to stay on top of new trends and technologies in 2021?

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