2021 Security Industry

Predictions After an Unprecedented Year of Change

To say that 2020 has been a challenge is an understatement. COVID-19 has created unprecedented circumstances that have upended life as we know it, and redefined what it means to be resilient in the ever-evolving security industry. Now, more than ever, there has never been a greater need for innovation.

In the past, resiliency was achieved through a balance of maintaining operational capabilities and optimizing the day-today functionality of spaces. But resiliency means much more than that, especially now. It means finding ways for businesses, customers and partners to manage unpredictability in the face of adverse and challenging times.

Despite the health, economic, climate and social crises we are experiencing, the security industry remains strong and has a bigger role to play than ever before. The demands of today’s business environment are accelerating the need for and adoption of existing and emerging technologies to not only create safer and more secure functional environments, but also to ensure some level of continuity within our daily lives and future phases of reopening.

Reopening the spaces where we work and gather will require creative reimagining to remain resilient now and in the future. Unfortunately, there are still many unknowns around COVID- 19, which can be challenging when trying to determine the steps needed to make a facility safer.

To be resilient now means understanding the complexity of managing facilities, including safety and security, reducing touchpoints and enabling social distancing. Looking ahead, it will also be crucial to understand how to leverage new technologies and reimagine existing technologies in new ways to sustain resiliency.

Touchless solutions, mobile, and wireless technologies are three frictionless access control solutions that are gaining in importance during a time when resilience is key.

TOUCHLESS SOLUTIONS

The understanding and interest in making the entire process of moving through a space – from entry to exit – more automated and hands-free already exists, and there are signs that these concepts are expanding with new innovations and applications of existing technologies.

For example, a new application for an existing technology is the use of ultra-wideband (UWB) to enable hands-free access to entry and exit points. Using ultra-wideband technology, we can tell if a credential holder is just walking by a door or is actually walking toward the door with intent to enter. This provides the security needed to enable access from a credential in your pocket. As more automation around the door opening is introduced, we anticipate demand for low-touch and hands-free products to grow, particularly in verticals like education.

Most importantly, when it comes to building a resilient access control system, these products will be valuable in helping facilities re-open safely today, while also setting them up for a faster, more effective response in the future should another public health crisis occur.

MOBILE

Mobile has grown in importance during the pandemic, and will likely continue well beyond the pandemic – particularly for credentials. Mobile access is now desired more than ever for door openings – both for convenience and as a means of reducing touchpoints. A recent survey by HID Global found that 57 percent of respondents see mobile access as the top trend shaping the access control industry. Implementing mobile solutions can also move business beyond the four walls of an organization or institution.

Mobile and remote applications also enable distance learning from kindergarten through higher education and allow access to health care from even the most rural locations. They have value for business, too. As businesses manage remote workforces and entities require solutions to control access to unmanned infrastructure, the ability to issue access rights over the air is paramount. It eliminates the need for key holders to go to an office environment to have keys programmed, reducing the potential for germ transmission, and enabling better control and auditability of who is accessing various locations.

WIRELESS AND LOCATION SERVICES TECHNOLOGIES

Wireless technologies make it easier and more affordable to expand access control deeper into the facility and to more applications. Creative use of this existing infrastructure can also help improve safety by managing traffic flow, limiting the number of people in a given area, and allowing you to quickly change how a particular space is used. It can also support contact tracing and allow you to restrict access to areas if decontamination is required.

Location services technologies have gained traction over the years and have the potential to help manage germ spread. For example, platforms like BluVision will be incredibly valuable in supporting contact tracing efforts and enforcing social distancing. Using real-time location and proximity-based location data, location services technology can create a safe working environment for employees and visitors, restore productivity and employee confidence without compromising privacy, and adhere to regulatory mandates.

As we look at the future workplace and how to manage a disparate workforce, it is clear that access control has a significant role to play. Though this has been a very challenging time for everyone, it is driving us to find creative solutions that allow us to build safer, healthier, and more secure environments that will become the new standard for high-performance buildings.

This article originally appeared in the November / December 2020 issue of Security Today.

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