When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, few would have predicted the enormous impact it would have across the world. In the physical security sector we have seen technology implemented in increasingly innovative ways to benefit businesses. Rather than heralding the emergence of new technologies, the trends we see for 2021 are shaped by their use and benefits across industry in challenging times:
1. Trust – There are many factors which contribute to maintaining trust, and the technology sector is under more scrutiny now than ever before. Customers and end users are demanding transparency around how technology is used and how data is managed, especially with increased surveillance. This, together with the need to maintain privacy, will be a key challenge. Discussions will turn to how organisations can actively demonstrate that they are trustworthy. Due to its nature, the security sector will be under even more pressure to increase its efforts in this area.
2. Horizontal integration – Applications and services are largely designed for specific environments, whether server-based, in the cloud or at the edge. Driven by a desire to achieve optimal performance, scalability, and flexibility, along with the benefits of accessing and using data at any time and from anywhere, the coming year will see momentum towards ‘horizontal’ integration between environments; deploying intelligent applications across server, cloud and edge to employ the best capabilities of each.
3. Cybersecurity – Horizontal integration will increase the need for robust cybersecurity. Due to the potential for high financial returns and disruption of critical infrastructure, new capabilities, tactics and threats will continue to emerge and require constant vigilance. AI will be employed by cybercriminals, strengthening their ability to find and exploit vulnerabilities. Deep fake videos will become even more sophisticated and realistic, potentially calling video surveillance evidence into doubt. As a result, further developments in methods to verify content, devices and applications in order to maintain trust in their authenticity will be required.
4. Artificial Intelligence – With machine learning and deep learning now broadly in use within surveillance technologies, the implications of its use will be a factor in 2021. As in other sectors (e.g. autonomous vehicle crashes) the positive impact of AI can be outweighed by the attention given to specific failures. Narratives tend to focus on the errors of automation, and this will no doubt also be the case in the physical security sector. However, this shouldn’t act as a deterrent and we must not lose sight of the positive potential of machine learning and deep learning in surveillance.
5. Low and no contact technologies – Contactless / frictionless technologies, driven by hygiene concerns and social distancing, will become commonplace in 2021. As a result, the implementation of technologies based on low or no contact, especially in areas such as access control, will increase. In addition, surveillance solutions with people-counting capabilities will become the norm, to ensure adherence to social distancing regulations.
6. Sustainability– In 2021 sustainability will regain its position as a primary area of focus. The materials used in the manufacturing of products, and their expected lifespan, remain the two key elements around which the physical security sector can drive environmental benefits. While significant steps have been made in reducing the use of plastics and PVC in products, and in increasing the use of recycled and recyclable materials, demonstrating their longevity will be a critical factor in customer decision making.
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