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What Does Physical Security Look Like in the 2020s?

By on 15th Jan 2020

Physical security

Remember watching films as a kid and seeing futuristic security systems, where people had access to digital 3-D maps of the building with built in perimeter breach alerts? Well you can have that right now, in your small business if you wish!

Keeping your assets and data secure has never been easier, although we know that the threat landscape is ever changing and ever evolving, physical and cyber security companies are making it their prerogative to always be one step ahead of the curve. 

With AI and other IoT technological advances paving the way for some of the most advanced and intelligent security systems you can imagine, we’re not playing in the realms of fiction anymore. AI cameras now have the ability to track specific people or objects over a multitude of connected devices, making the simple act of committing any petty crime infinitely more risky to the perpetrator. 

Here are just a few of the things we’ll start seeing in day-to-day security systems whether your business is a small local shop or a multi-national office.

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AI Face and Object Recognition

Many surveillance cameras on the market now come with a facial and object recognition functionality already built in, and when combined with a smart, AI security monitoring system, the capabilities become fantastic. Imagine being able to track a suspicious character across all of your cameras and access control points automatically. Imagine being able to record the exact times and movements of a vehicle across your site. This is all completely possible right now.

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IoT Integration 

The great thing about facial recognition is that it can be combined with your local or national IoT system to track an individual’s movements at all times. Say you’re a high street retailer, and you’ve spotted a shoplifter on your camera surveillance system; that data can automatically be used across the security systems of the whole street of shops, tracking the criminal as they move between other targets.

It also means if a criminal escapes, their facial recognition data can be shared across the network, and matched up with police information. The whole system makes it extremely difficult for criminals to escape capture, especially with the innovations in surveillance camera resolutions that allow for crisp, clear pictures, even when zoomed in.
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Perimeter detection

With the use of cameras and smart polymer coatings, it’s now entirely possible to be alerted immediately to anyone or anything breaching the secure perimeter of a site. This is great for noting if anyone tries to scale the walls of a site to enter without record, which is not only useful for sites with sensitive data or secure assets, but also for paid-entry sites, such as festivals.

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Biometric Access Control

Even though it gets increasingly complicated, with brute force and extensive technical evolution, hackers have still been able to access pin and password protected systems, no matter how hard we try to make them secure. Biometrics is the answer to this. A fingerprint or facial scan removes any chance of human error compromising the security of a system too, you might easily reply to a phishing e-mail or enter your details into a fake site, but a cyber criminal cannot steal your biometrics so easily.

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Cloud Based Identity Management

In today’s world of hotdesking and mobile workforces, it can be difficult to keep track of and assign security passes to employees as they come and go across various sites - however, it’s much easier with an up to date security management system. Using all the traditional aspects of access control, but linked to the cloud, the system can encrypt and manage various employee profiles across multiple sites, without needing to issue multiple passes. 

You can even program all of these passes individually to ensure employees only have access to their permitted zones or rooms. 

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Secure by Default / Secure by Design

Thanks to developments in cyber security programs, encryption and blockchain, IoT security devices are going to be secure by design. That means manufacturers of the hardware will ensure that the increased risk of highly networked devices is mitigated by the inbuilt security. 

The UK is already in the process of discussing possible legislation related to ensuring manufacturers must make their products secure by design, which will be a great boost to IoT security adoption.

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Predictive AI

Much like your Smart Home learns from your regular habits, a smart security system can learn from the common trends for access and more to notice anomalies and report on them quickly. For example, a car passing through your gate may be normal, but is it normal at 3am? Your system can alert you to anything suspicious so you can act on it quickly.

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Wi-Fi Frequency Monitoring

Although not yet a widely adopted technology, we expect to soon see the utilisation of the radio waves created by your wi-fi router for tracking movement. The fascinating thing about this, is that it can track movement even through walls and barriers, and can be trained with AI to ignore pets and turn off during normal business hours. The tech can instantly alert you should it notice suspicious movement, or even automatically use the IoT to train a camera in the location of the movement. 

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Drone Guards

Why waste time patrolling when robots can do it for you, and mitigate any risk to human safety? If you have a large site, it’s not always possible to constantly monitor every corner of it, even if you have a vehicle, but a drone could easily complete a regular site survey quickly to identify any abnormalities. 

Roving robots also provide an easy point of call for people to report suspicious behaviour or security issues, this is great for shopping centres and other large sites where it’s easy to miss people in the crowds when using video surveillance. 


Although Ensign doesn’t provide robots (yet...) we do foresee them becoming a regular addition to business IoT in the next ten years.

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What Does Physical Security Look Like In The 2020s

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