To most access control vendors, the industry certainly had a good run in 2016 due to increased demand amid renewed concerns for security. Moving into 2017, vendors expect growth to continue as users seek to improve various business processes with access control.
According to a research by Memoori, access control grew 10 percent in 2016, compared to 4.2 percent for video surveillance and 3.6 percent for intruder alarms, and vendors mostly agreed with this. “For the first three quarters of 2016, we saw strongest market growth in the Asia Pacific followed by the Americas,” said Brad Aikin, Electronics Portfolio Leader for Commercial at Allegion.
“Within the U.S., it’s no surprise that most of the growth came from larger population segments which exist in the Northeast, California, Texas and the explosion of retirement communities in Florida,” said Larry Reed, CEO of ZKAccess. “Outside the U.S., we saw a huge adoption for biometric security technology in the Middle East, in addition to Asian and Latin American countries, as they tend to adopt new technology faster than North America and European countries.”
Security remains the top driver that led to access control’s growth. “Although much is sensationalized by the media, still no one can argue how prevalent security breaches and violence exist in today’s society. Human population grows. Internet connections grow. And with this growth comes an associated rising vulnerability for attacks upon our business assets and people,” Reed said. “Security officers are now very much aware they have no choice but to invest in necessary protective measures. Thankfully, much of this protective technology is far more affordable today when compared to years past.”
As such, vertical markets that are more vulnerable to security threats and breaches, for example education and healthcare, saw the biggest growth in access control. “Popular verticals consisted of schools and hospitals where there is a heightened concern for protecting students/patients and employees. Threats come from unauthorized visitors entering the premises, as well as unauthorized employees attempting to gain access to restricted areas, for example computer rooms, financial and records rooms, or dangerous areas, for example radiation and biochemical waste,” said Reed.
As for this year, demand is set to remain strong, as users choose solutions that suit their particular needs. “Consumers will continue becoming less ‘brand-conscious’ and prefer instead reliability and cost-effective solutions. Commodity-based access control will continue dropping in price while consumers become better educated. Dealers will continue looking for ways to improve their RMR and continue promoting cloud services,” Reed said. “From a technology perspective, consumers will continue adopting technologies which improve their ROI, security and convenience, including mobile phone apps and biometrics. I believe more so in the next few years that face recognition will emerge as the preferred means of user identification.”
Also, expectations abound for a clearer convergence between access control and IoT devices, which can help further improve the user’s business processes. “While not all access control solutions need to be part of an IoT environment, the developments in this space have enabled broader applications for electronics that deliver a new level of value to property owners and end users,” said Aikin. “Customers are seeking productivity fueled by information technology that links health, safety, and design in an environment.”
In the age of IoT, cybersecurity also becomes a key issue, and security best practices are urged for vendors and users of access control alike. “Access control manufacturers are constantly trying to determine what vulnerabilities may be on the horizon and find solutions to mitigate the risks that are inherent in certain levels of connectivity via a network, but because the analysis of this data can help end users predict future breaches of connected devices, initiating an overarching degree of regulation on shared solutions will be key to leveraging the information wisely,” said Mitchell Kane, President, Vanderbilt Industries.