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Securing New Ground, the security industry’s annual executive conference this week in New York, offered food for thought about current and future trends in the security marketplace. Highlights from SNG 2019 included keynote remarks from security leaders at SAP, Johnson Controls and the Consumer Technology Association, discussions on how CSOs mitigate security risks, topic-focused thought leadership roundtables and a lively networking reception.

Top trends observed at the event include cybersecurity, data privacy, facial recognition and artificial intelligence. A "View from the Top" session covered the need for companies to consider responsible use and ethics around technology; responsibility should extend throughout the organisation.

A panel of security leaders emphasised the need to understand the diversity of risks that end users face. As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands connectivity, the inputs, outputs and "attack surface" also expand. It's critical to have security "baked" into products themselves, and also to undertand the mission of the organisation being protected, the context and correlation.

Technologies transforming security market

Keynote speaker Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, listed the many technologies that will impact the consumer electronics market – and the security market – in the near future: artificial intelligence (AI), voice recognition, the transition to 5G and self-driving cars.As the Internet of Things expands connectivity, the inputs, outputs and "attack surface" also expand

“What we're seeing today is a huge turning point in where the world is going,” said Shapiro, whose organisation presents the giant CES trade show each year in Las Vegas. “It’s not just about jobs and technology, but who we are and how we address fundamental human rights.” Privacy is a component of human rights, but “in the world of AI, there is a tradeoff between innovation and privacy”.

Balance between security standards

Shapiro sees Europe as representing one extreme of privacy, epitomised by General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which he sees as stifling innovation. Meanwhile, China is pushing innovation using massive amounts of data with no regard to privacy. The United States, therefore, should look for a balance that acknowledges the inevitability of innovation while respecting privacy and realising it is “always situational.”With new technologies, biometric ID and cybersecurity issues, your business is in a strong and growing place"

Too much concern for privacy comes at a cost, Shapiro said. “Privacy zealots are killing facial recognition, step by step by step,” he said. “Regulators should not throw away the baby with the bathwater. Every technology in history has been used to cause evil and to do good. Throughout history any new technology could have been banned and made illegal.” 

Shapiro offered encouraging words to the security marketplace, even in the wake of large tech firms such as Amazon entering the market. “With new technologies, biometric ID and cybersecurity issues, your business is in a strong and growing place,” he said. “There is opportunity. There will be increasing new things people want, and always new threats. People will want what you're providing, which is physical and technology security in their facility.”

Scott Schafer, Chairman of the Board of the Security Industry Association (R), interviewed Steve Jones, CEO, Allied Universal, on stage about the importance of merging technology with security officers

Allied Universal CEO Steve Jones discussed holistic approach

Steve Jones, CEO, Allied Universal, was interviewed on stage about the importance of merging technology with security officers for a holistic approach to securing a facility.

“Today, customers are asking us to look at their facility holistically and asking: What is my best approach?” said Jones. A holistic approach includes protecting people, the facility, intellectual property (IP), and how to handle visitors.

Manguarding perspective on security

Allied Universal looks at security from a manguarding perspective and also from a technology perspective, based on their daily experience managing security for 40,000 customer sites across the United States and Canada.Allied Universal has a new handheld technology platform that uses AI

“We are in a unique position in the channel,” said Jones. “We know the stats at any customer site. We know the last time there were repairs on cameras, which card reader is malfunctioning, how long the systems company takes to respond to a call. We are at these locations 24/7 and have an intimate relationship with customer. We are a significant influencer in the decision-making process. We have an opportunity to have a voice, and to build a business around it.”

Predictive security

“We are looking for technology that will enhance the security of the customer,” said Jones, including situational awareness and analysis of data to predict patterns. Allied Universal has a new handheld technology platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse data, predict outcomes, and prescribe optimum responses.

Workforce development – hiring and training new employees – is a big issue for Allied Universal, which last year interviewed more than a million applicants to find around 100,000 employees. They are targeting every demographic, and last year hired 33,000 veterans. The company is using technology to help with the massive recruiting effort, including AI to analyse applicant qualifications and a computer-generated avatar to conduct the first online interview.

Future security challenges

Jones sees the rapid increase in the homeless population in the United States as one of the biggest security challenges of coming years. The rapid increase in the US homeless population is one of the biggest security challengesMany businesses face the prospect of homeless individuals living in front of their buildings, possibly using drugs or approaching customers.

“It has become a real threat,” he said. “When they are living in front of your buildings, in many cases, there are ordinances that allow them to be there so the police will not get involved. It falls on the facility owner and private security to address the problem. Given the large homeless population we have now during good economic times, I don’t know what it will look like in an economic downturn.”

Human side of security

An SNG session on the human side of security observed that people are the biggest source of vulnerability. Companies should foster a "safety climate" in which security is integral to operations and viewed as something that helps employees rather than create hassles. Human resources is now a technology field and should work together with security to achieve shared goals.

At the consumer and small business level, cybersecurity must also be top-of-mind and built into a security companies' DNA. SNG attendees heard about opportunities to move beyond providing products and devices to providing experiences, by partnering with customers to protect what matters most to them. While a bit of inconvenience comes along with security, products should be built in a way that is easy to use, with security baked in. The results are systems people are comfortable engaging with every day.

Securing New Ground is presented by the Security Industry Association (SIA).

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Larry Anderson Editor, &

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

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