Why building security is moving to a data-driven, proactive model

Issue 1 2020 Commercial (Industry)

In response to the rapidly changing needs of tenants and today’s working professionals, many property owners and landlords have naturally focused on transforming buildings and workspaces into multi-purpose, digitally equipped and attractive places to work.


Derek Lategan.

Forward-looking property managers and developers, to keep pace with millennial demands and the global drive for workspace innovation, have thus focused on technology as a way to attract and retain new tenants, and ensure that workspaces provide the flexibility, agility, and collaborative environment that many businesses now seek. Yet as such investment increases, it is important to keep in mind that parallel investment into physical/building security is just as important. Interestingly, many of the emerging security technologies mirror the trends that are impacting businesses and consumers – such as the use of big data, automation and machine learning/AI.

Let’s take a closer look at the key tech trends that are set to impact building security and facilities management.

Integration of AI and video analytics

While it has been lauded as one of the most powerful technologies set to impact every facet of life and work, progress in AI (artificial intelligence) varies from industry to industry. Today, in the physical security and property sectors, AI is not commonplace, although machine/deep learning technology is being increasingly embraced as a way to deploy smart video analytics tools.

Indeed, over the past several years, the cost of high-performance servers, hardware and software has dropped radically, meaning that video analytics is becoming both affordable and accessible for more businesses and property managers. Coupled with the increasing capabilities of machine learning and data analytics tools, the security use cases and demand for video analytics is expected to grow exponentially. The use cases for building and security teams will be broad and does cover aspects such as facial recognition, licence plate reading, motion detection and people counting.

Harnessing mobile access controls

With smartphone penetration increasing across South Africa and Africa, security innovators are already capitalising on it and integrating the smartphone into home and building security systems. A simple example would be tenants using their smartphone to gain entry to their office building, harnessing technology that is both hands-free and keyless.

This type of integration is a quick win for security professionals, as it can be a highly cost-effective security add-on (and usually does not require a major IT or infrastructure overhaul). Additionally, the mobile-first access control strategy also provides opportunities for personalisation. Given that many of today’s working professionals want to utilise and access space in different ways and on different schedules, technology and security both need to enable it.

Shift to intuitive security systems

As with consumer technology, security technology is evolving to provide a more intuitive, user-friendly and visually engaging experience. In addition, as younger and tech-savvy professionals join the security industry, they bring with them an expectation of seamless, innovative and engaging solutions that mirror their personal devices and platforms. This, for example, will drive a wholesale shift to data-driven security strategies that rely on real-time data feeds, smart sensors, and AI tools to provide key insights.

Rise of networked systems

In the next several years, many experts foresee that access control systems will no longer stand in isolation from other critical information sources, including security and non-security systems. With this in mind, networked systems will instead provide insights and intelligence in the form of data. Such data can be harnessed to develop a security approach using predictive analytics: enabling teams to evolve from reactive to proactive security.

Also, with the rise of networked systems, managers and owners can use a single, unified control platform to evaluate the state of a building or space. This unified control platform can bring together and analyse data from key, real-time feeds including visitor management, photo-imaging, video surveillance, time and attendance, building control, etc.

Looking ahead, landlords and property managers will need to make sure they have the enabling infrastructure in place to support this shift, such as robust and reliable Internet connectivity, data privacy and cybersecurity policies and platforms, and skilled, digitally savvy teams.


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