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Top 7 Physical Security Trends for 2021

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The pandemic has deeply influenced innovation by transforming everything from work culture to consumer behavior. These paradigm shifts have compelled businesses to be better informed and more cautious from the security perspective. As a result, thermal cameras and UGVs have become a common sight on most large campuses. You can find them at airports, university campuses, hypermarkets, and every other large public place out there.

From drone systems to thermal scanning, there is so much happening in the physical security landscape to enable businesses to open up and operate in a secure manner. In fact, a majority of the current physical security solutions are geared towards reducing human interaction in potentially dangerous situations.

For example, security personnel are burdened with the responsibility to mitigate risks by inspecting those visiting protected zones and privately guarded facilities. Unfortunately, such professionals have no choice but to interact with the public due to which they are exposed to life-threatening viruses. Back in January 2021, over two hundred National Guards deployed at the presidential inaugural contracted the COVID-19. Although there is no centralized record of how many private security personnel across the US have experienced the same, one can imagine their plight.

The same goes for those employed in manufacturing units, restaurants, travel and leisure, and other similar sectors. Such businesses must look for alternatives to prevent core functions and operations from being adversely impacted. Not to mention that they also need to implement ad hoc safety measures to protect their workforce and prevent future litigation. Therefore, we decided to discuss seven physical security trends that are going to facilitate that in 2021.

Physical Security Trends for 2021

The past year has witnessed many restrictions on public movement in the form of social distancing, wearing masks, and travel restrictions. None of these have been convenient but were essential for the effective containment of the novel virus. Would 2021 be the same? Maybe not! Innovative security solutions are all set to make reopening safer for everyone. We shall now elaborately discuss physical security trends which we believe would play a pivotal role in enabling businesses to keep their employees and customers safe.

1. Thermal Scanning Technology

Thermal screening technology has been around for quite some time but since 2020 it has been widely used by facilities to run preliminary body temperature checks. Thermal imaging involves the use of a special lens, which focuses infrared light on all the objects within its reach and detects body temperatures. When the body releases heat as infrared radiation, the lens picks it up. As fever is one of the most common symptoms of infectious diseases, it helps pinpoint those potentially having this symptom and take the necessary steps to isolate them.

In 2021, businesses with large campuses are going to need more advanced thermal screening to detect temperature and perform compliance monitoring as well. However, the challenge is to do this in a non- invasive manner. At Scylla, we are bringing you a complete COVID-19 Compliance Suite that employs a holistic approach and includes thermal scanning, social distance monitoring, face mask usage detection, contact tracing and occupancy counting. On top of that, we have an enterprise-grade solution for those looking for a centralized orchestration suite to include cybersecurity, real-time physical threat detection and integration with access control systems.

2. Greater Privacy Concerns

Individual privacy matters the most and that is something businesses have begun realizing the hard way. Quite a few businesses that hurried up with thermal scanning and tracking technologies, did so without evaluating them for compliance. A closer look at how any of those security solutions work would clarify that very few keep personal data anonymous by using techniques like video redaction which blurs out faces.

This is essential because any AI solution that does not anonymize the subject would be in direct conflict with data privacy laws. Regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and America’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) lay down prerequisites that must be complied with.

While the GDPR prevents the collection of any personal data pertaining to those residing in the EU region, HIPAA safeguards the medical records and personal health data of American citizens. So, the biggest challenge faced by the physical security industry is to design security modules that keep data anonymous and are fully compliant with the applicable laws.

3. Increased Reliance on AI Video Analytics for Loss Prevention and Threat Detection

Monitoring parking lots and large hypermarkets can be a challenge for businesses working with limited staff due to COVID-19 compliance measures. Nonetheless, the sudden rise in the crime rate across the US makes this necessary. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the year 2020 has witnessed a 9.2% increase in auto thefts across the US. Other reports by The Washington Post and Forbes indicate a surge in shoplifting crimes during the pandemic.

That explains why AI-based innovative loss prevention and threat detection tools are going to be a big deal this year. Basically, these software applications track object movement patterns to detect actions that could be potentially dangerous. Some loss prevention and theft detection tools like Scylla are already available. Retailers can use these to leverage AI video analytics without having to wait any further. It not only allows to ensure enhanced security but also lower operational costs and acts as a piece of evidence while raising insurance claims.

4. Drones for Better Security

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones were earlier invented to be used for defense purposes. They were found to be exceptionally useful because they can carry advanced cameras, microphones, and can even be programmed to intercept telecommunication. In fact, the Secret Service has been using drones for perimeter protection and monitoring purposes for quite some time. On the other hand, businesses use them to monitor public safety and other industry-specific activities such as land development, site inspection, precision agriculture, and so on.

Despite its many uses, this technology has long since been a hobbyist’s toy but that is likely to change in the near future. According to Business Insider, the drone services market is all set to exceed $63 billion by the end of 2025. As governments continue to plan and implement phased reopening, most businesses are doing all they can to reduce their operating costs. This is the outcome of the losses they incurred during the lockdown. Thus, we expect the cornerstone for this massive development in the drone services sector to be laid down this year.

5. Cybersecurity Solutions

During the past year, we have all seen remote work culture take off — an operational model that is here to stay. Nevertheless, this paradigm shift has also given rise to various types of cybercrimes such as RDP attacks, executive deep fakes, drone system-led espionage attempts, ransomware, cloud-based and supply chain attacks, and so on.

As a matter of fact, there has been over 273% rise in large-scale security breaches during the pandemic. This has been attributed to the upheaval caused by the sudden regulatory measures which had to be imposed for public safety. As a result, businesses that did not have a disaster recovery and management plan were deeply affected.

Therefore, in 2021 businesses are going to be more cautious and rely more on cybersecurity firms before adopting any new technologies. Also, the use of AI and machine learning would increase substantially and would be used to guard endpoints and detect anomalies. As these technologies deliver higher accuracy and greater efficiency, businesses will count on Managed SOC service providers who are equipped with such solutions.

6. Need for IoT Devices and their Security

According to the World Bank, the 2020 recession has been the worst since the Great Depression. The global markets have already witnessed the wrath of the economic downturn which has caused many well-established businesses like New York & Co and J. Crew to file for bankruptcy. After all, competing with a tech-savvy online marketplace like Amazon has been difficult for most brick-and-mortar enterprises.

Despite the pandemic and the restrictions on public movement, Amazon’s stock prices soared because it was one of the earliest businesses to reduce its overheads by deploying a fleet of sophisticated slave robots at its warehouses. While Amazon is on another level, IoT devices can actually help businesses of all sizes cut back on their operating costs. Until now, this was neglected because there was always someone to do the repetitive tasks such as turning off the lights, adjusting the heating and cooling, checking the cold storage, and so on.

In 2021, we anticipate smaller businesses to do what Amazon’s been doing — unleash the power of automation by implementing AI-powered IoT devices for daily operations. As a matter of fact, large restaurants and fast-food chains have been doing this for quite some time because they need to comply with the FDA and USDA regulations.

Despite its many real-world benefits, the IoT technology was much criticized for latency and high energy consumption. However, edge computing is all set to tackle those issues by enabling high-speed responses through seamless network flow, which is facilitated through the placement of nodes on each edge.

As less data traverses across the networks, edge computing lowers energy consumption considerably. Overall, it reduces latency and makes IoT devices more efficient for critical processes which require triggering immediate action. Thus, they are going to be in greater demand and would be used for inventory tracking, cashier-less payments, warehouse robots, and so on.

7. Transition to Hybrid Cloud Solutions

From the very beginning, cloud technology propelled digital transformation by making data more accessible. But since this technology was in its nascent stages, most businesses failed to choose the right deployment model and preferred the public cloud because of its lower cost. However, the remote work culture and related security breaches have changed this.

At present, business leaders are more aware of the advantages and the pitfalls of the various cloud deployment models. Therefore, most of them would choose to transition to a hybrid deployment model. This cloud model involves the use of both public and private clouds, which ensures better security and enables proper resource management.

Final Takeaway

As we have already discussed, the pandemic has changed everything from social interaction to customer behavior, leaving businesses with no choice but to adapt to it. So, there are threats that need to be checked and expectations that must be met. Plus, all of this needs to be done quickly and without breaking the bank. Thankfully, innovative physical security and business solutions like IoT devices, drones, thermal scanning, and video analytics equip businesses to quickly respond to threats and overcome operational challenges effectively.

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