In a year defined by supply chain shortages, COVID-19 pandemic surges and the return to in-person or hybrid work, physical security professionals have dealt with new challenges in order to maintain safety and security across their organizations.

In January 2021, physical security leaders noted an uptick in security incidents and reported difficulty retaining guards and frontline security officers. As the year continued, many security professionals transitioned their organizations from remote to hybrid or fully in-person work, managing the business and health risks posed by COVID-19. Supply chain shortages around the globe revealed security vulnerabilities and created a focus on confirming the safety and compliance of third-party vendors. After the international protest movements around racial equity and police brutality in 2020, government agencies and enterprises reevaluated their diversity and policing initiatives in 2021.

Despite continued challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, physical security professionals pushed their organizations forward by integrating modern security technologies and furthering how security teams approach potential threats. As security professionals reflect on the challenges and successes of enterprise security in 2021, six physical security leaders share their insights on where best to focus in the New Year.

#6: Hybrid work model is key to return to workplace efforts

Kinnera Angadi, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Product Officer of Commercial Security at Honeywell Building Technologies

“I expect to see greater attention on physical site security as facility managers adapt to the changing workforce, with the change primarily focused on where workers are located and how access is managed to ensure we create a safer working environment and the ability to monitor in real time across all sites and act quickly. To facilitate multi-site access for a mobile or hybrid workforce, we’ll see a shift towards full enterprise management (often embodied in cloud solutions), which will also impact remote monitoring demand as resources will continue to be limited or building managers will need the ability to be flexible. Companies may look at changing how they manage employee badging processes and visitor management to not only manage the site for capacity limitations, but to also know who is on-site in case of an emergency. This may also increase the use of remote management tools for satellite sites due to limited resources.”

#5: Enterprise security leaders will foreground organizational resilience

Matt Bradley, Vice President of Global Security Solutions at OnSolve

“If 2020 was the ‘Year of the Pandemic’ and 2021 was the ‘Year of the Vaccine,’ then 2022 should be the ‘Year of Resilience.’ Organizations must prioritize their organizational resilience programs in the coming year. COVID-19 will transition from pandemic to endemic, organizations will return to the office and travel, and resilience programs must be prepared for the new steady state.”

#4: Climate disasters will effect corporate America

Dale Buckner, Co-Founder and CEO of Global Guardian

“It's undeniable that we're going to continue to see enormous amounts of global disruption based on natural disasters, and that is going to affect corporate America and its travel. Fortune 1000 organizations are going to start thinking about weather patterns, earthquake zones and hurricane zones when they consider where they are going to set their headquarters up.”

#3: Standard metal detectors will be phased out

Peter Evans, CEO of Patriot One Technologies

“The metal detectors used today at stadiums, arenas and schools are based on 40-year-old technology that has not changed much at all. However, people’s expectations, and security threats have become more complex over this time. Look for new, next-generation AI-based screening tools to replace legacy metal detectors at venues around the U.S. and globally, in an effort to meet modern, more dynamic security threats, while enhancing patron experience and de-escalating fan irritation.”

#2: The first phygital catastrophe is coming

Saket Modi, Co-Founder and CEO of Safe Security

“A central, mission-critical application will go down and create a ripple impact across businesses and for consumers around the world. For example, a hack on a major central system like an internet gateway, public cloud provider or a healthcare system will impact millions of people and we will see the physical ramifications in our everyday lives. Healthcare could be upended, businesses unable to provide digital services, flights cancelled, food and supplies not delivered and more.”

#1: Cyber and physical security convergence will help manage insider threat

Dr. Marisa Randazzo, Executive Director of the Ontic Center of Excellence

Physical and cybersecurity will continue to converge in 2022, especially in the case of handling troubling employee behavior. Those who work in the field of behavioral threat assessment already know that physical security and cybersecurity are often closely linked, especially when it comes to concerns about current and former employees. Employees who engage in troubling or odd cyber behavior may also be engaging in alarming in-person behavior in the office or on Zoom calls, etc. However, if physical security responsibilities and cybersecurity domains don’t communicate with each other, they may miss opportunities to share information, connect the dots and identify growing concerns.”

To explore the top cybersecurity predictions for the coming year, click here.