Sarah Phillips

Up until the lockdown at least, I have been a regular attendee at the world’s leading international security exhibitions and conference. One thing is becoming more and more clear – converged traditional physical security solutions and cybersecurity is vital in the modern age.

End users now expect holistic solutions that address all threats. This may be from physical attacks onsite or remote attacks from hackers located on another continent. They expect their integrators, and ultimately, product manufacturers to offer comprehensive solutions that mitigate both physical and IT vulnerabilities.

This immediately presents one of the initial challenges – expectations versus reality. More on that later.

What has been holding the market back so far?

Traditionally, these solutions have been deployed by those in adjacent markets to the mainstream security industry. However, as more sophisticated security technology is deployed, whether it be CCTV, access control, or intrusion detection they are now more likely to be IP based solutions. With this shift brings huge amounts of data to manage. Therefore, introducing new risks to end users, creating a pressing need to develop and deliver more converged solutions.

Furthermore, physical security mitigation was previously firmly within the remit of the site security manager. In recent times though, stakeholders have changed, and this responsibility now belongs to the IT Manager. This is most practical as there is a need to manage the installation of servers (for video data and analytics for example). Alongside this, storage of biometric templates and associated data protection regulations.

Ownership is key to ensuring the delivered solution is in line with the organisation’s risk management approach. Additionally, it ensures compliance with existing enterprise mitigation strategies.

The Emergence of the IT Integrators

To date, there has been a struggle to find a single integrator to deliver a complete converged solution. Fortunately, times are changing and in recent years more IT integrators have moved over into the physical security market, offering a true ‘one stop shop’ of physical, cyber and IT security. This has simplified matters from an end user perspective. One contractor to manage, less site disruption and one procurement process with hopefully a reduced cost.

Manufacturers are stepping up to the plate, building in penetration resistance and cyber assurance as standard. As the industry moves towards managed or hosted services with such solutions as Video surveillance in the cloud and Access Control as a Service (ACaaS), we will see far more product innovations developed in this space.

Is There Still A Place for A Solely Physical Security Integrator?

Absolutely, the market is not one size fits all. There will always be clients that require less complex technology deployment. More so when that security system is isolated from their corporate network. But as alluded to earlier, client expectation is driving the market. There is increasing demand for low cost, holistic solutions that address all aspects of risk management policy in one place.

Traditional physical security integrators that have not embraced converged solutions, may find themselves squeezed into the lower end of the market. Here they will face quite a saturated, commoditised state of play, with far lower margin expectations.

The Future of Security

Converged Security and Information Management (CSIM) solutions will need to ensure that operators have real time accurate information and situational awareness to affect an appropriate response to any incident. This means managing a huge throughput of data, quickly simplifying it and prioritising key events.

The delivery of these solutions requires the absolute coordination of all stakeholders in an enterprise to ensure alignment. The key will be keeping pace with the speed of new technology that hits the market. Therefore, ease of integration with third party solutions is paramount.

I have been in the security industry for over 30 years. There has never been a more interesting time to involve yourself in the industry. The rate at which products are being brought to the market is phenomenal and the need to keep up to date with the latest technology has never been greater. A responsibility lies as ever with consultants, manufacturers and integrators to ensure that the advice we give our clients is current and where possible future-proofed!

Author: Mark Horton, Vice President