Genetec regional director for Middle East Firas Jadalla shares insights on the evolution of the physical security space and how unification enables organisations to become more efficient, make better decisions and strategically respond to threats.
When people think of physical security, the picture that often comes to mind is a heavily guarded building with hundreds of surveillance cameras and doors equipped with access control mechanisms. While this scenario is, in many ways, not far from the truth, the physical security space is evolving rapidly to deliver benefits beyond security.
Driven by the data explosion and increasing digital disruption, physical security tools are now playing key roles in accelerating various business functions from enabling decision-making, improving operational efficiencies to enhancing customer experiences.
This trend has propelled increasing investments in physical security technologies such as IP–based surveillance tools, video management systems and access control solutions. In fact, recent figures released by US-based firm Grand View Research showed that the global physical security market is expected to reach $171 billion by 2027.
Genetec, a global technology provider of security and public safety solutions, is among the key players that attest to the advantages that these innovations bring beyond generic security. Among the primary solutions that the organisation offers are access control systems.
The primary function of access control solutions has historically been quite literal—controlling access to openings and points of entrance and egress. Today, the solution and the data it generates can play a strategic role in helping organisations to boost not just security but also their productivity, performance and customer satisfaction.
“Access control, which has been in the market for decades, has evolved to become more than just opening and closing doors securely,” says Firas Jadalla, regional director – Middle East and Africa, Genetec.
“These tools are now being used to enhance operations management and the data it generates deliver insights that enable organisations to optimise business processes.”
An example of an innovative application for access control is in ensuring public health and safety. “Say, if there’s a need to evacuate people from a certain facility. Access control systems can be applied to generate reports as to how many individuals there are in certain parts of the establishment and ensure that an effective evacuation measure is carried out,” says Jadalla.
According to Jadalla, another vital application of the technology is for accelerating operational efficiencies in manufacturing facilities and airports. “In airports, it can enhance operational management by monitoring the number of people around a certain terminal; it can also record the times logged by each employee during their shifts, which can deliver insights for streamlining various business-critical processes.”
In these unprecedented times, while many organisations across the globe are putting significant efforts towards keeping the bad guys away, they are also grappling with a common and unseen enemy. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has presented not only a tremendous health crisis but also caused profound social and economic consequences. As a result, many organisations, including those in the technology sector, are devising innovative ways to help contain the spread of the virus.
Genetec has recently released a new reporting function for its Security Centre Synergis (Synergis) access control system, which is designed to help organisations find individuals who went through a door that’s in close proximity to someone thought to be contagious.
“The feature was developed at the request of McCormick Place in Chicago, North America’s largest convention centre,” says Jadallah. “The reporting function correlates the physical proximity of an infected individual with other employees and badged visitors based on the use of the access control system.”
With Synergis, a report can be quickly generated to correlate access events by time window to identify people who are at increased risk of being in contact with contaminants or contagious individuals.
“Armed with this data, organisations will be able to conduct further investigations as to who are potentially at risk of contracting the virus, notify those individuals and take necessary actions to contain its spread,” explains Jadallah.
The feature is being offered by Genetec to its access control customers at no extra costs. As for its regional applications, Jadalla believes that there is a strong demand for this kind of solution.
“The Synergis proximity report feature will definitely be instrumental in helping regional firms curb the spread of COVID-19 or any kind of contagion,” says Jadalla. “We can customise the solution depending on the needs of the end-user but, ultimately, these reports can help them proactively take the necessary precautions.”
A unified approach
The evolution of the physical security space has paved the way for increased integration between multiple security components such as video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection and analytics to deliver a holistic security infrastructure to organisations. However, the result often remains a set of disparate systems that lack interoperability.
“Having a unified system helps enterprises to maximise the usage of their security infrastructure, make seamless upgrades and enable unified threat level management,” says Jadalla.
He adds, “What this means is organisations will be able to vastly improve their physical security management using one platform, with a single interface. With unification, these systems can communicate with one another and generate actionable insights that can be leveraged and combined with operational data to help improve efficiency.”
With unification, organisations no longer need to worry about upgrades. “Normally if you integrate different systems, once you upgrade you break the link,” explains Jadalla.
Security tools too are vulnerable to cyber-attacks since organisations with multiple integrated systems often utilise tools from various vendors and platforms. However, with a unified solution like Genetec’s Security Centre, cybersecurity is applied – and updated – across all physical security components. The solution is a unified security platform that blends IP security systems within a single intuitive interface to simplify operations.
“A unified system is easy to manage and more cost-effective to deploy,” says Jadalla. “We believe that unification is going to be the future for security.”