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INSIGHTS

European security in 2021: Cautious optimism prevails

European security in 2021: Cautious optimism prevails
After a devastating 2020 due to COVID, a sense of cautious optimism now prevails in the European security market as it enters 2021. This note looks at the overall status of the European security industry and what to expect this year.
After a devastating 2020 due to COVID, a sense of cautious optimism now prevails in the European security market as it enters 2021. This note looks at the overall status of the European security industry and what to expect this year.
 
Needless to say, Europe was hard hit by COVID-19 in 2020. As of this article’s write-up, COVID has infected 27.5 million and killed 628,000 in Europe, according to Worldometers.
 
Casualties aside, European businesses also suffered amid lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. An October 2020 McKinsey report notes 11 percent of European small and medium businesses expect to file bankruptcy within six months. Another report by GlobalData suggests at its peak in April 2020, over 20 percent of projects updated each week were found to have been delayed or cancelled due to COVID-19 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
 
This, then, has hugely devastated the Europe security market last year. The biggest impact from the pandemic is that people are not being able to actually go to site, to do their installations which has delayed projects obviously, but also budgets have been reduced and planned installations have been further delayed with the closures that have been necessary during lockdown period,” said Phillip Antoniou, VP of Sales for EMEA and APAC at MOBOTIX.
 

Looking better this year

 
As for this year, things look a little better for the European economy. According to the World Bank, GDP for the euro area is anticipated to grow 3.6 percent this year, following a 7.4 decline in 2020.
 
One reason for this positive outlook is the expectation vaccine rollouts will become more available this year. According to the European Commission, it has secured a portfolio of more than 2 billion doses, which will be administered to EU citizens throughout the year. Indeed, it’s hoped that once the herd immunity develops, Europe will see businesses getting back to normal in various industries, including security.
 
“We expect the traditional security market to pick back up as the situation stabilizes with the roll-out of vaccination programs,” said Malou Toft, VP for EMEA at Milestone Systems.
 
“We do expect growth in the security market in 2021 and the learnings from 2020 and widespread vaccination should help the industry better manage the COVID-19 situation this year,” said Verena Rathjen, VP of Sales for EMEA at Axis Communications.
 

New demands in the new normal

 
At the same time, as Europeans embrace life in the new normal, they will trigger new demands for security, whose role has expanded from life and asset protection to helping users with business digitization as well as disease prevention and control.

“Obviously, the pandemic has had a negative impact on the world economy and across many industries, including the security industry. On the other hand, the pandemic has elevated the many potential benefits and uses of video technology that go well beyond traditional security,” Toft said. “For example, video is now helping businesses to enforce social distancing, minimize manual intervention and automate logistical processes. It looks like this development will continue to accelerate and be a strong driver for growth in 2021 and beyond.”

“The European security sector has not escaped the impact of the pandemic, and there have been changes in customer demands, challenges for supply chains and of course a shift from physical to online interaction – for customers, partners and employees. As a result, there’s been an increased demand for security and surveillance solutions to help organizations in the right way,” Rathjen said. “Low-contact access control systems, people counting technology and remote monitoring solutions, in combination with audio and video analytics have come to the forefront. These technologies have been implemented to address present challenges and will stay relevant in the future – even if the purpose and the scope of application might shift.”
 

Vertical markets that will see more demand

 
These new use cases for security can especially benefit certain vehicles as they comply with health regulations post-pandemic. One of such vertical is healthcare.
 
“More use cases emerge across sectors such as healthcare. For example, using solutions with integrated analytics at the edge can allow medical professionals to detect whether a patient is in distress and help to monitor vital signs in real-time,” Rathjen said.
 
“Healthcare is even more important than it always has been, with the use of edge-based analytics for mask detection, temperature events and social distancing. The solutions available are becoming almost a requirement now for healthcare facilities to operate,” Antoniou said.
 
Further, demand for security COVID applications is also expected to pick up for critical infrastructure where operators struggle to achieve business continuity with reduced manpower. “As a result of the pandemic, we also expect an increased willingness to invest in security in certain areas, for example critical infrastructure. Many companies have realized how important it is in special times to secure sites that are elementary to keep our society running, for example for power distribution, while limiting the need for human interaction,” Rathjen added.
 
The public sector, meanwhile, is also expected to see growth in security spending not only to combat COVID but also to make cities smarter amid rapid urbanization.
 
“Public sector, mainly due to the stringent requirements in various countries for face mask, reduced number of people in a specific environment, which is also important for any kind of tourist attractions as well,” Antoniou said.
 
“Access control for professional buildings (not CCTV) and hospitality (including CCTV) … almost came to a stop for new investments. Luckily other verticals grew further so they kind of compensated the loss the other slowing down verticals,” said Walter Verbruggen, Sales Director at AVUTEC. “But from the second half of 2021, we expect the market to pick up for the hospitality and building security. Also more intelligent camera systems will find their way into smart city, law enforcement and ITS applications.”
 

GDPR compliance more important than ever

 
As for major trends expected for European security market in 2021, cloud and edge analytics will continue to see momentum. “Cloud-based security (VMS, access controls, alarms and monitoring) will grow further by more willingness to adapt, and more intelligent, versatile edge-based camera systems will be more implemented as they make more sense in a system’s and network topology perspective,” Verbruggen said.
 
“There’s also an expected shift to a more ‘horizontal’ approach in the surveillance industry; by deploying more intelligent solutions across server, cloud and solution, performance and efficiency will increase,” Rathjen said. “For instance, edge analytics in a surveillance camera could trigger an alert to an operator, which can be verified – and responded to – by accessing a live video feed through a cloud-based application.”
 
But most importantly, the increasing use of video surveillance and analytics – even for disease prevention purposes – has led to more awareness on privacy and data protection, which is at the center of the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. Compliance, then, becomes more important than ever.
 
“During the pandemic, we have seen video tech play an important role to keep people safe and healthy by the means of people counting, monitoring of social distancing violations, temperature measurement and facial recognition tech for touchless access control. Research indicates that privacy is the most important consideration for people when they think about adopting these new surveillance measures,” Toft said. “This tells us that establishing consumer and public trust must continue to be top-of-mind, even as video technologies and contact tracing become increasingly prevalent. The accelerating adoption of video solutions does not give businesses a license for misconduct. Instead, they must work together with regulatory bodies and technology partners to respect individual privacy and comply with data protection regulations.”
 
“This is a trend that has already started but we are seeing more and more prominence, and this is with cyber-secure solutions. We’ve seen in the past two years large multi-national or even smaller national organizations effected by data hacking and this is becoming more and more of a concern because of the penalty with GDPR and also lack of trust in the general populace of who, how and when their data is stored, which further highlights the responsibility of companies to invest in solutions which are cyber-secure, which are not compromised and which do not have a black cloud over them,” Antoniou said.
 

Conclusion

 
After a disastrous 2020, European security is in for what’s expected to be a better 2021. Security solution providers will continue to push new use cases which can help users adapt to the new normal, post-pandemic. However, suppliers must realize that users are demanding more cybersecurity and privacy features in security solutions that they use to contact-trace and social distance. Only by fulfilling this user need can solutions provider win out in the European market.


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