SP&T News

Trends to watch: AI, frictionless access, people-counting

February 17, 2021  By Jason Ouellette

image: ismagilov/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

The security industry is no stranger to innovation and adapting to customer needs.

In fact, as users have continued to embrace IP-based solutions and remote management solutions, the industry has answered by developing security solutions that offer greater connectivity and mobile capabilities both of which give business owners greater functionality and ROI on the solutions they deploy.

In the past year, innovation has been a reoccurring theme, as the entire security industry has had to make significant adjustments to its plans. Integrators had to redefine how they engaged and interacted with customers, while manufacturers had to change their approach on how to quickly develop and safely deliver products in a COVID-19 world. With the year 2021 now upon us, there’s one thing the security industry can say for itself, and that is it knows how to persevere and adapt.

For security solution developers, the past year has fostered innovation like no other, with many companies racing to create problem-solving solutions, such as new thermal imaging cameras to detect elevated skin temperatures or to redefine existing technology to support a safe return-to-work strategy.


Looking ahead, the security industry can expect continued innovation on the following themes:

Artificial Intelligence
Thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI), the security industry has a greater ability to mine data and turn that information into useful, actionable tasks. And in the surveillance industry specifically, it has spurred an additional transformation, enabling cameras and video management systems to become faster and smarter. The security industry is now starting to see AI move beyond just the surveillance industry to also encompass access control solutions to provide deep learning capabilities and the ability for cameras to analyze video without any human interaction. For example, AI-powered facial recognition technology has begun to reshape the access control market. When integrated with an access control device, an AI powered camera with facial recognition technology can be used to detect faces and in turn, provide a frictionless method for people to access a secure area.

Frictionless access control
Science fiction technology of yesterday has become the reality today as frictionless access control has quickly gained momentum. Security directors are now demanding solutions to minimize touchpoints without impeding the flow of people accessing a building, whether it’s a manufacturing facility, warehouse or high-rise office building. The introduction of frictionless access control solutions eliminates the need for an individual to physically present a badge when entering a facility and replaces that component by using facial recognition technology to verify the identity of individuals approved for entry. When paired with an automatic door entry system, the need to touch anything to gain access, such as a keypad, turnstile system or door handle is completely eliminated.

Touchless is here to stay
While touchless security solutions are nothing new in the security industry, the push and adoption for these types of solutions across all product categories has grown considerably. People want to minimize how many times they touch a door knob, and in some instances, do away with the need to use a keypad to access a building. Mobile credentialing and automatic door technology that can open a door when a sensor detects a person are two big technology trends here. Mobile credentialing allows an individual to use his or her smart phone to securely communicate with a door reader or parking gate. Sensors are being incorporated into a variety of other devices, such as intercom systems, so that a visitor no longer needs to push a button to gain access to a secure lobby, for example. The sensor would send a notification to a receptionist who can then confirm the person’s identity by either using video or speaking with the person first.

People counting technology
Retailers have been leveraging people counting technology for years as part of their POS system to better understand traffic counts and customer buying behaviour. Now these types of solutions are helping businesses better manage occupancy numbers — for example, so a store does not allow too many customers inside at one time. This technology can be deployed across multiple markets, including the fitness industry, restaurants and also large campus-like environments where the number of people within a predefined area needs to be kept at a minimum, due to health considerations.

Elevated skin temperature detecting technology
Thermal cameras that can detect an elevated skin temperature have become part of the first line of defence to help identify individuals who may have a fever, thereby indicating the possibility that a person may be unwell. In a few short months, this type of solution has been deployed by schools, casinos, hospitals, just to name a few, as part of their efforts to safely occupy their premises during COVID-19. The industry should expect to see continued adoption of this type of technology, along with security professionals putting plans into place to continue leveraging these systems in the future.

Those in the security industry should expect the year 2021 to be one of continued innovation and adjustment to the current security and safety environment in which we live.

Jason Ouellette is the head of technology business development for Johnson Controls. In his over 20-year career with the company, he has served in a number of leadership positions within the Tyco International and the Tyco Security Products businesses, which are now part of Johnson Controls. This includes global product general manager for enterprise access and video, director of product management for access control globally, director of R&D, and engineering manager. He is based out of the company’s office in Westford, Mass.

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