As 2021 draws to a close, ongoing technology trends, operational priorities, business constraints and social pressures are conspiring to deliver a 2022 that’s going to be at once challenging and full of opportunity for security people.

It’s not that we’re going to see the overturning of everything we know, rather what we’ve been experiencing over the past 10 years is going to express itself more fully.

Something it’s impossible to ignore after 30 years commenting on the electronic security industry is that this moment in time is seeing the simultaneous arrival of technologies that have been knocking around for decades. Think face recognition, camera/IVA-driven alarm systems, widespread fast and affordable wireless, NFC credentials, reliable video analytics, trusted biometrics, cloud solutions, physical and network convergence, seamless sub-system integration (ok, that’s a reach), affordable PSIM functionality and far more educated end users.

Some of us can remember those mighty warriors of the bleeding edge – companies like Jaguar-On-Sabre Vision, Mitec, Fujitsu, E-Pic, HID, Genetec, Guard-All Guardcell, SNP’s early video monitoring service and more – whose engineers must be wryly applauding the market’s ‘discovery’ of their most brilliant conceptions.

After years of talk, technological trends towards networking, cloud, remote management, automation, out-of-the-box integration and AI, are combining into user expectations that will govern the parameters of many future electronic security solutions. A key element is technology partnerships profound to the extent it’s possible for developers to build, deploy and manage secure solutions on third party infrastructure, even on third party devices.

Operational priorities have not escaped the pandemic – they have driven a push towards proactive functionalities that have enhanced access control and video surveillance systems, and demanded more from integrations. Nice to have capabilities front of house, like smart visitor management systems, have become more prevalent, their integration with access control and CCTV, more profound.

It’s at this layer we see a broader acceptance from senior management of something protective security people have always known – that security systems are safety systems that should be deployed to proactively express an organisation’s duty of care. The latest solutions make it possible for integrated systems to manage and monitor movements through a facility based on access rights and health status, as well as connecting visitors to staff and communicating in real time.

Operational priorities have led to interesting synergies, too. In the past, security systems were siloed, not only in terms of their geographical location, but their conception in the minds of users. Pandemic has altered that. It’s made the borders of electronic security systems more porous, thanks to the need to cater for remote working models. These more porous borders have additionally demanded security systems incorporate third-party smart devices and their mechanisms of authentication as trusted components.

This sounds like a small thing but it’s not. Secure smart devices integrating biometrics, layered secure authentication and NFC are giving security systems a path to grail technologies like widespread biometric access control, proactive notification and support of staff across an organisation in real time, and, when combined with geolocation, they offer global staff safety monitoring services. Feeding into this level of situational awareness are things like multi-detection IoT sensors, more affordable cameras with dependable IVA at the edge, local and regional 5G networks, and more.

Something else pandemic can take credit for is delivering widespread convergence of physical and network access authentication. Convergence has been a buzz word since the 1990s, but networks are now capable enough, and users are now educated and trusting enough, that it’s possible to drive software as a service and security systems as a service models in a way that is secure, reliable, replete with end-to-end event monitoring, and a business model that multiple layers of the user market cheerfully embrace.

The drive to remote monitoring and remote management is something else pandemic has accelerated. App-powered security and automation solutions aren’t new, but the idea serious security systems could be driven securely over the internet protected by DESFire encryption is a much more recent trend and we’ve not yet seen its fullest expressions.

Feeding into all this are pressures towards efficiency now driving analytics and the mining of metadata to inform and enhance operations across all an organisation’s systems, supported by a level of underlying integration we’d never have conceived of 5 years ago. This lateral integration, and its whetting of an appetite for global situational awareness, is an emergent property of digital transition at a boardroom level, the ultimate destination of which remains unclear.

What will the new year bring? It will bring change, with all its challenge and opportunity. But in the face of this change, what pandemic tells us remains constant is that safety and security of property, people and assets, are at the heart of what responsible organisations do.

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