Total frictionless security is a way off yet

Stockholm, Sweden

"The security sector, in particular, appears to be ahead of the curve..."

Digitialisation has generated a paradigm shift epitomised by the view that, according to The Economist, "data is now a more valuable commodity than crude oil.”  And a new research report by facilities management (FM) firm Mitie, revealed that the three FM industry practices that would witness the highest impact from digital transformation over the next five years would be: energy efficiency, security/access control, and mechanical and electrical installation, replacement and maintenance.

"The security sector, in particular, appears to be ahead of the curve, with 90% of respondents stating they were already making progress in digitising their security or access control processes. The research underlined respondents’ belief that digitally-enabled remote monitoring and remote guarding systems provide cost benefits and better agility for emergency situations. The survey, however, also highlights the challenges of effective implementation with 48% of respondents still not achieving the expected benefits of their digital transformation."

“Security access control was identified as a holistic challenge that includes recruitment, screening, and onboarding of people, as well as their permissions to access the physical building and digital assets,” reads the new Mitie report. “Digitally-enabled remote monitoring and remote guarding offer clear cost efficiencies as well as a more agile response to incidents. However, when implementing new digital solutions or technologies, organisations must always consider the potential cyber vulnerabilities that might be created and mitigate these.”

Main concern is cyber security 

In the research, 31% of respondents cited ‘improving cyber security prevention protocols’ as a key concern, while a separate 30% reported ‘concerns over cyber security’ as the main impediment to securing more investment for digital transformation projects. In this regard, Andy Rallings, sales director at Mitie Security highlighted the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack on the UK’s national health service. A single staff member inadvertently opening a single link in a malicious email resulted in a cyber-attack that unlocked every door and disabled access control and CCTV throughout the organisation’s head office.

“The manager’s ability to monitor global threats was removed in a second. So, while the initial threat was a cyber one, the attack affected the entire physical infrastructure,” he said. Rallings believes that there is a growing sense of urgency amongst facilities management and corporate real estate managers to mitigate these kinds of digital threats. “The dynamics behind cyber threats change quickly and often. It can be terrifying for businesses when they’ve spent a large portion of their life putting very sturdy protected buildings together, only to find them compromised in an instant.”

Holistic approach is the way forward

According to research company Memoori, holistic security is crucial on the rocky road towards connected buildings, and the survey demonstrated this. 80% of those surveyed asserted ‘security risk management’ as highly important, while 39% of respondents stated that ‘video monitoring and analytics to ensure safety and security’ is essential. A further 24% also cited ‘demand-led and risk-based security monitoring and remote guarding’ as a key component. While a combined 53% reported ‘leveraging security remote monitoring’ as a top (11%) or high (42%) priority over the next two years.

This increased focus on security and access control is reflected in Memoori's own recent research on the Access Control, Intruder Alarm / Perimeter Protection & Video Surveillance Markets. The total value of world production of physical security products at factory gate prices in 2019 was calculated at $34.3 billion. That marks an 8.5% increase on 2018 figures and creates CAGRs of 7.24% and 6.27% over the past five and ten years respectively. The in-depth Memoori report on the industry forecasts the market will reach $56.76 billion in 2024.

Vast opportunities and challenges

The insights from Memoori’s report, Mitie’s survey, and other research demonstrate the vast opportunities and challenging obstacles that the smart building brings to the security discussion. As the number of connected devices proliferates in the built environment the demands placed on security systems are pushed to their limits in order to protect occupants and building functions. Security has become the fundamental element in ensuring safety and the seamless connected experience the smart building promises.

“Inside a building there will be several thousand critical assets from internal access control systems and CCTV, to air conditioning units, server rooms, water pumps, etc. Just one of those critical elements going wrong can significantly affect business continuity,” Jason Towse, managing director of Security & Business Services for Mitie. “In time, frictionless security will become the norm. But we’re some way off organisations being sufficiently comfortable to rely on such technology.”


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