Top 10 physical security trends from the past decade

Jan. 3, 2020
Reflecting on the technologies and market drivers that influenced the industry during the 2010s

As we enter 2020, we thought it would be interesting to look back on the past 10 years of physical security innovation.

Below we’re sharing our pick of the top 10 trends that had the greatest impact on our business and our industry.

1. IP dominance - Moving to IP surges as security devices and systems evolve

IP security systems and devices have been around since the late 90s, but it wasn’t until 2010-2011 that IP video surveillance sales began surging over analog options.

This had a lot to do with the release of H.264 codec and megapixel IP cameras which provided better image quality at an affordable price point. Since then, IP technology, whether for video, access control, intercom, or other applications, continues to evolve at an incredible pace.

Today, IP security solutions are the first choice for users who want enhanced capabilities and more flexibility, all while keeping their budgets in mind.

2. Openness - Having more choice leads to preference in open architecture

For years, the proprietary analog solutions were the norm. DVRs and cameras were bundled together by a single vendor, leaving the end-user powerless to change and choose.

When end-users wanted to upgrade to the latest technologies, they were often given limited options or worse, none at all. At the turn of the past decade, too many felt trapped while considering a rip-and-replace scenario.

As IP technology gained momentum, so did the preference for a more flexible option—the open architecture solution. End-users could choose the best devices and solutions for their applications and they knew that they could change their minds at any time.

Today, openness is trending across all other security applications, especially access control. And it's not limited to merging devices and systems anymore.

The evolution of openness has led to unification—merging various security solutions into one intuitive management platform.

3. Integration depth - VMS providers extend more device capabilities to users

As interest in open video management systems (VMS) grew, vendors invested significant resources in device integration. End-users wanted choice, and vendors were eager to deliver on that by supporting as many video cameras and security devices as possible.

At the same time, interoperability protocols such as ONVIF were gaining attention by helping to streamline the integration process.

A shift happened when VMS vendors began focusing efforts on delivering more than a simple camera integration. After all, there was more to these devices than simply delivering video.

Offering deeper levels of device integration became a big differentiator in the VMS market. Suddenly, end-users weren’t so focused on which cameras they could choose, but how they could leverage the capabilities of the devices and the data they collected from them.

4. Analytics - Users increasingly rely on video and other analytics to spot threats

Over the years, video analytics has seen a fair share of criticism. In earlier days, accuracy and high false alarm rates brought doubt and uncertainty.

While many doubted the reliability of the earlier, simpler software-driven analytics, things have changed. More cameras offer various built-in analytics. And, things like facial detection analytics have become more sophisticated over time.

Even software-based analytics are not what they used to be. Today, more end-users, especially those with larger and more complex environments, rely on analytics to make sense of what’s happening.

More now than ever before, users are spotting threats using virtual tripwires or object detection, and protecting individual privacy with video anonymization. Developments in deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will only help achieve better results.

5. Access - Need for more flexibility and intelligence drives access control innovation

Earlier in the decade, linking card reads with video footage was a big incentive to switch to modern IP access control technology. Still, many users had trouble justifying the costs and effort required to swap out old RS-485 cabling, upgrade door controllers, and migrate cardholder databases.

That was until technology evolved to simplify the migration to IP access control. Intelligent controllers were released, giving users the freedom to keep some existing door hardware.

New PoE and wireless door hardware required little to no cabling, which reduced labor and installation costs. Import tools also simplified the transfer of cardholder data to new access control systems.

Access control innovation is not slowing down. Biometrics are seeing a steady rise in popularity, delivering higher security and better tracking.

And, there’s an even bigger shift happening—access control management isn’t just centered around cards and doors anymore. It’s about managing the identities of people who interact with the organization.

6. Operations - Rationalization of security data leads to operational efficiencies

Security systems were once only used for security. Today, savvy users realize that the value of security technology can extend into everyday business.

Security system vendors are also offering tools that help these users better understand their environment and it’s a trend that continues to gain traction across verticals.For instance, hospitals use access control to keep clean rooms contaminant-free and stay compliant. Airports sync flight updates with their security systems to better manage gate changes and crowd flow.

With greater insight, organizations can simplify processes and find ways to improve efficiency and customer service.

7. Smart Cities - IoT and data sharing enable city departments to work smarter and faster

Before the term ‘smart city’ ever caught headlines, almost all city departments operated in siloes. Information was rarely shared between entities and inefficiencies were the status quo.

That all changed as more devices began coming onto the network, and the internet of things (IoT) emerged. Cities everywhere started looking for ways to use this growing network of connected sensors (cameras, streetlights, etc.) to build better and safer urban experiences.

They did this by investing in security technology that facilitated collaboration and information sharing between all stakeholders. Today, interest in community-driven solutions is on the rise. Private businesses are investing in video surveillance and giving law enforcement access to real-time video to quickly handle emergencies.

8. Cloud - Cloud services gain traction as security teams become more agile

There was a lot of skepticism about cloud solutions just a few years ago. Initially, it was a question of data security— organizations were hesitant to have company information in off-site data centers.

This took a turn when large private and public entities began using the cloud to quickly expand storage or add layers of redundancy. They did this all while keeping their existing on-premises systems running.

This hybrid model provided an easy migration path to hosting entire systems in the cloud.

Businesses transitioned one component over to the cloud at a time, whether that was a camera, a facility, or an application. Without the need for servers, security teams deployed new systems faster with little to no involvement from IT and minimal upfront investment.

These perks continue to drive the adoption of cloud services forward. And today, organizations of all sizes, including smaller businesses and those with limited resources, are all for cloud too.

9. Cybersecurity - Rise in cybercrime fuels the need for stronger cyber resilience

If you had asked anyone in the physical security industry how they felt about cybersecurity earlier in the decade, the majority would have expressed little concern. The defending argument was usually that they had on-premises systems that weren’t connected to the internet.

Fast forward to today and everyone is talking about cybersecurity. From not changing default manufacturer passwords on security devices to postponing important software updates, people now recognize that vulnerabilities can come from anywhere.

In response, security solution vendors are releasing hardening guides and offering built-in defenses that help users ward off cyber attacks.

10. Privacy - New legislation creates a demand for better privacy protection

As more cities and businesses have expanded video coverage over the years, more debates around the ethical use of security technology and people’s privacy have come up too. Yet, it's only recently that this topic began picking up steam. That’s because governments are holding businesses more accountable for the information they collect, manage and store.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was the first law to come into effect. And, beginning this month, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), will follow suit.

With big penalties looming, organizations want solutions that help them better protect privacy. That can include defining privileges for who can access information to having built-in video analytics that blurs identities.

About the Author

Tracey Ades | Director of Communications, Genetec

Tracey Ades is Director of Communications for Genetec.