Which segments are under-served in the physical security industry?
20 Nov 2018
Physical security technologies operate successfully in many different markets, but in which markets do they fall short? Physical security is a difficult challenge that can sometime defy the best efforts of manufacturers, integrators and end users. This is especially the case in some of the more problematic markets and applications where even the best technology has to offer may not be good enough, or could it be that the best technology has not been adequately applied? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable to reflect on instances when the industry may fall short: Which segments of the physical security industry are most under-served and why?
The physical security of our school children is the most under-served segment in the U.S. While there are many school security solutions coming to market, there is still a significant gap between the security measures present in K-12 buildings and those in corporations, government, and other enterprises. Close behind is critical infrastructure, which has historically relied on manpower and forensic solutions – and which typically accepts regulatory fines as a cost of doing business. Food manufacturing and distribution is an industry with a challenging distribution chain and huge potential for loss of life and erosion of public trust. What these have in common is a lack of physical controls at the entry that are commensurate with the level of threat, risk and liability they present. A converged approach to access, identity, and entry across all segments is imperative in order to deliver on the promise of physical security capabilities.
The segments of the physical security industry that are classified as under-served often require just as much — if not more — attention as those that typically make headlines. A perfect example today is the cannabis market. Its recent expansion has been undeniable, and it has highlighted the need for facilities in this industry to take advantage of intelligent solutions for both effective security and business operations. But some manufacturers might be hesitant to get involved, as the topic can be seen as taboo in certain areas. Others aren’t yet aware of the specific demands of this segment, as legalisation laws continue to play out nationwide, and the progressive development is unprecedented. But there’s no denying the strict compliance and surveillance regulations that exist, making this industry one that can certainly benefit from comprehensive security solutions.
Man-guarding sometimes unfairly gets bad press, but often this comes down to what customers will pay for the service. If you cut corners and don’t allocate a sensible budget for trained professionals, you may not get the service you want! A guard operating on minimum wage is less likely to have suitable training and won’t be as motivated to go the extra mile as a fully-trained and qualified security professional. A self-employed security operative will rely on a fair wage to procure the latest/most relevant training - it’s a simple equation. If you invest in training and budget for the right systems and tools, you will always reap the rewards in terms of service. There is also a misconception by some customers that security professionals are simply the cliché of a burly security guard and don’t appreciate that many modern security systems require highly trained and experienced engineers and technicians.
Whilst cameras and management systems are becoming pervasive in educational sites, especially K-12 school systems, budget limitations and planning cycles at these establishments often limit the scope and level of technology applied. Since newer technology coming out is usually offered at a premium, it would do the industry as a whole a service to look at the education market with a different operating model – perhaps moving to an operating expense (opex) type selling model.
One of the most “under-served” segments of the industry is surveillance and security of large public spaces. Public spaces are large areas to be covered; they require open access, lack suitable infrastructure, require interoperability among systems, and need coordination between public and private entities. Securing large spaces requires total situational awareness best achieved with technologies such as intelligent video surveillance, audio analytics, gunshot detection, smart lighting, traffic management – or all of these. Cameras and other sensors (such as Lidar) need to have extensive coverage, as well as adequate resolution for the proper identification of people, objects and vehicles. Wide-angle 180- and 360-degree cameras are best suited to provide situational awareness, but they need to be supplemented with strategically placed narrow field-of-view cameras to give adequate detail. Newer AI-based tools are better suited than video analytics for these complex applications; however, they can be expensive and difficult to deploy.
I would say from a vertical market perspective, that small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have typically been under-served. Manufacturers have focused a lot of attention and development on products and solutions that work at the enterprise level, for larger corporations. Integrators are similar in that, generally, their "bread and butter" projects have been in large-scale installs for multi-site, enterprise customers. This is changing, however, with the rise of more cloud-based access control and video management solutions. These systems not only serve this market by providing a robust security solution that doesn't require a lot of IT infrastructure but are also allowing integrators the opportunity for recurring monthly revenue (RMR), which is a change in the way many of them operate their business models.
Our Expert Panel Roundtable nominates a variety of markets for the dubious distinction of “most under-served,” including education, critical infrastructure, food distribution, cannabis, manguarding and large public spaces. Each panellist makes a convincing case for his choice(s). Taken together, their comments are a convincing argument of the need for improvement in how the security industry serves a range of industries. And where there is need for improvement, there is also an opportunity for entrepreneurial security professionals to up their game and meet that need.
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