While the events of the past year brought about a number of challenges for the security industry, it also saw a renewed focus on existing security technologies that could be used to mitigate risks associated with COVID-19. In 2021, industries across the globe will continue to shift the way they conduct business. Technologies such as occupancy management, automated visitor management and touchless access control applications are increasing in demand – turning up the dial on interoperability as organizations seek to deploy best of breed solutions.

To power these technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud storage and the Internet of Things (IoT) are driving new functionalities and new uses from existing technologies to deliver customized applications for pandemic related health, safety and security issues. While this year might bring a number of uncertainties, we remain confident that the industry will continue to see growth and demand for these trends.


Video analytics spur innovation with practical uses

In 2020, the pandemic acted as a catalyst, encouraging innovation and creating new technologies – as well as offering new uses for existing technologies. Video analytics were one such technology, as many of the touchless and thermographic solutions used to help mitigate health risks and reopen businesses wouldn’t be possible without video surveillance.

For example, the use of video analytics to determine occupancy levels in commercial buildings and detect social distancing are soon to assist smart cities. While this doesn’t necessarily mean public skepticism towards video surveillance has decreased, it has enabled the industry to show the breadth and depth of possibilities within the video analytics field outside of more commonly known technologies such as facial recognition. The disruption caused by COVID-19 opened up opportunities for video surveillance to prove its value beyond simple video recording, providing organizations across the board with valuable business intelligence for pandemic uses and beyond.


Cloud is more valuable than ever

In early 2020, we spoke about how the security industry was truly embracing cloud, specifically in the IoT space, as worldwide spending on cloud services and infrastructure was steadily increasing. In this new year, we feel confident this trend will continue to increase, as pandemic (and post pandemic) requirements offer myriad opportunities in the cloud space. While cloud is by no means new to security, the growth in video surveillance in the cloud is now being propelled by both security and non-security uses.

Offering cost-effective price points, cloud solutions provide ongoing flexibility and a variety of opportunities for organizations of all sizes – meeting operational needs heightened or accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These needs could include remote monitoring of vacant spaces or providing additional coverage where less staff onsite is required.


AI and IoT continue to rise in popularity outside of the security industry

It comes as no surprise that the biggest security trends we anticipate seeing in 2021 will be a continuation from last year – IoT and AI. As IoT and AI blend together, each is needed to become more efficient in general. IoT has laid the foundation for AI and video analytics to be very impactful in 2021. As IoT connected devices rise and the demand for integrations of smart applications accelerates, these technologies once novel to the security industry are becoming more mainstream. This increased focus is leading to more investment in analytics, as organizations search for solutions to adapt to the new way of life, while reopening economies and rebooting infrastructure.


Interoperability will be vital in a post-pandemic world

In light of the increasing number of connected devices and new opportunities in video analytics for pandemic related uses and beyond, the demand for interoperable systems has only increased. COVID-19 highlighted this need for interoperability, as end users seek to integrate many of the technologies required to continue business as usual. Such technologies include video analytics to assist with occupancy management, enforcement of social distancing and compliance with facial covering requirements. For interoperability of IP cameras, or analytics applications with video management systems, organizations will be seeking flexible, cost-effective solutions for their smart applications. Interoperability will allow end users to mix and match such analytics and camera hardware and software from different providers.

In 2021, cloud technology, IoT, AI and the ever expanding uses for video analytics will continue to gain attention. This due to the fact that they all blend together – each becoming more efficient with the assistance of the other. It certainly will be an interesting year, as the security industry and beyond continues to build back from a present and post-pandemic environment.

This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security Magazine. Subscribe here.