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What's new in post-pandemic perimeter security?

What's new in post-pandemic perimeter security?
What changes have COVID-19 brought in perimeter security solutions and projects?
COVID-19 impacted everything. We have already talked extensively about how it has affected the security industry, but how far have businesses recovered? Experts in different organizations provide varying forecasts.
Some are optimistic about solid investments and demand bouncing back, while others remain skeptical, as the virus remains a threat and other geopolitical issues add to worries. Regardless of how the future turns out, there are a few evident changes that we can see now.

Growth of SaaS in perimeter

According to Justin Wilmas, President of Netwatch North America, there has never been a time when perimeter security hasn't been in great demand. However, the behavioral changes that the pandemic forced us to make have altered the nature of demand.
"When businesses across the globe began closing their doors in 2020 and sending employees home to work, it left offices across the world largely vacant," Wilmas said. "That lack of personnel also meant fewer people were on-site to help deter bad actors from stealing valuable equipment or, perhaps gaining access to personal data and trade secrets."
This is where SaaS proved its value to end-users. The demand has certainly increased over the last few years, and it will continue to do so as more and more organizations seek more robust ways to protect their employees, property, and assets.

New processes for almost everything

Lee Copland, Managing Director of Maxxess EMEA, points out that organizations have realized they need to reimagine access and visitor management by managing staff, contractors, and visitors under one umbrella. This approach extends to the perimeter.

"Innovation in workflow-focused access control and visitor management software, enhanced secure mobile credentials, and integration with not only third-party security and safety systems but popular centralized databases such as Microsoft Active Directory are proving key to overcoming a raft of challenges," Copland said. "This extends to strengthening and automating perimeter protection to drive significant operational efficiencies."

As many organizations face tough economic headwinds, finding savings will continue to drive demand for integrated solutions. The pandemic emphasized the need to eliminate siloed systems and technology stacks, and there are significant advantages to managing security and building operations via a single and, importantly, future-proof platform.

Upgrading identity and access control

During the pandemic, many essential workers and contractors experienced difficulties accessing buildings, while many organizations remained partially open with security teams and reception staff furloughed or others working from home. Security managers faced the day-to-day inefficiencies and weaknesses of ID badges and difficulties of remote management, control, and lack of oversight using disparate systems.

"Many needed to manage different access control systems and databases for different buildings," Copland pointed out. "Others had been using paper-based systems at reception desks for managing contractors, visitors, and deliveries. By integrating license plate technology on perimeters and car parks, it allows authorized staff, contractors, and visitors to seamlessly enter parking lots, get allocated parking spaces, and gain frictionless access to facilities."

Workflows can also be adapted so customers can tailor each visitor's journey depending on risk. For visitors, combining LPR with QR codes on mobile devices or facial recognition at barriers verifies drivers with pre-authorized vehicles adding another layer of security.

Also read: Top trends in perimeter security now

Digital design has become more important

The pandemic forced everything to go digital. While Zoom calls, online workshops, and even online tradeshows were standard across industries, solution design going digital was new for the security industry.
"An interesting impact of the pandemic was an inability in many cases to make site visits a part of the solution design process, something which had previously been regarded as essential," said Andrea Sorri, Segment Development Manager for Smart Cities at Axis Communications. "This has accelerated the use of advanced solution digital design tools, allowing designers to create the solution virtually – specifying cameras and sensors to give maximum coverage – potentially without setting foot on site ahead of installation."
Even after the pandemic, this would be a great system to follow. Given the remote location of many sites, this can also reduce the need for travel and brings the associated cost and environmental benefits.

Also read: Why AI is great for perimeter security 

Increased importance on experience

Post-pandemic, there's also a greater focus on staff experiences and improved engagement. Each step or hoop an employee needs to go through leads to frustration when organizations are keen to get staff back into offices and retain and attract talent.

Yet, this approach to automating perimeter security is popular among large enterprises to support employees returning to work and in sectors where staff turnover is high, and staff shortages are most acute, such as in manufacturing and logistics.

"In these settings, we're also seeing demand for time and attendance systems to be replaced with simple access control entry and exit turnstiles on or inside perimeters linked to payroll systems – again improving workflows and eliminating unnecessary processes for staff and contractors," Copland continued. "In the same sectors, automating vehicle verification and authenticating drivers also speeds up the throughput of trucks and goods to avoid bottlenecks at gatehouses and eliminate processes previously performed in control rooms using video intercoms to manually authorize entry."

More automation and centralization

At secure locations, using an automated approach also mitigates insider threats and human error while providing a complete audit trail of events.

"In the Middle East, where customers bus in hundreds of staff to manage transportation hubs, oil and gas plants, construction sites, and hotels, we're putting mobile access control in vehicles, meaning the vehicles, as well as staff and contractors, are verified and authorized before they reach perimeters," Copland said. "This can also include pre-screening for COVID-19 and ensuring staff has the right permits to work and have completed up-to-date health and safety training."

And by managing all these technologies from a single user interface, it's a force multiplier in terms of efficiency gains, enabling easier administration and control of single or multiple sites. At the same time, bringing alerts, alarms, and video into the same platform allows faster detection and verification of incidents, allowing control room staff to take quick and appropriate action to ensure incidents don't escalate, which improves an organization's overall preparedness.
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