Safety is a critical consideration for any workplace. Every business is subject to some amount of risk, and without proper precautions, companies could endanger employees or hinder their focus. While workplace safety isn’t a new concern, it is particularly prominent at the moment.
A 2020 poll revealed that only 65% of American workers feel completely satisfied with their physical safety at work. That figure is down 74% from the previous year and the lowest it’s been since 2001. Facilities must become more secure, and thankfully, new technologies provide a way forward.
While cybersecurity may get more press in conversations about security technology, recent advancements have pushed physical safety further, too. Here’s a closer look at some of the emerging technologies for facility security.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most disruptive technologies across industries today. As of 2020, 50% of surveyed companies had implemented AI. While its most popular use cases are in optimizing business processes or automating routine tasks, it has significant potential in security.
Machine vision algorithms can scan CCTV footage to recognize when someone is carrying a weapon. They can then instantly alert security staff or other employees, enabling quick, effective action. Since AI typically works far faster than manual processes, its speed could potentially save lives.
Similarly, AI could analyze audio signals to detect nearby threats. Studies suggest that people report only 20% of heard gunfire, mostly from being unsure of the noise’s source. AI could recognize these threats faster and more accurately, leading to timelier warnings and emergency calls.
Another emerging technology that has seen use cases far beyond security is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT sensors’ ability to gather and send information in real-time makes them an indispensable facility safety tool. These sensors can virtually extend security staff’s reach, letting them monitor areas without traveling to them.
Even implementing IoT connectivity in everyday objects can improve facility security. For example, IoT-connected smoke detectors could send alerts to employees’ phones when they detect a fire in the building. These devices could then connect to a facility’s smart locks, opening safe passages while blocking compromised areas.
IoT connectivity can also improve workplace safety through predictive maintenance. These systems can make predictions about needed upkeep 20% faster and with higher accuracy than traditional means. Facilities can use this to keep gates and other security systems in optimal condition.
Compared to AI and the IoT, drone technology hasn’t experienced widespread adoption among businesses. Most commercial applications are in research, but they’re seeing increasing use as security tools, too. Like IoT sensors, drones let security teams monitor areas remotely, with the added advantage of omnidirectional mobility.
Facilities can use drones to get a bird’s-eye view of the property, potentially spotting things they may otherwise miss. Drones’ maneuverability can give teams access to areas that would be inconvenient or unsafe for workers to reach, too. Since flying is faster than walking, they make surveying a facility more efficient as well as more thorough.
Some facilities have moved beyond remote-controlled drones to implement autonomous security robots. While these solutions carry higher upfront costs than traditional drones, they push their productivity benefits further. Without the need to control a robot, security teams can focus on other duties as these machines patrol, accomplishing more without extra staff.
Autonomous security robots may sound like a distant goal, but they’re already in use. LaGuardia Airport deployed robotic security guards in 2018, becoming the first major American airport to do so.
Security robots often feature capabilities beyond recording footage and sensing potential threats. Some have built-in facial recognition technology to identify known or wanted criminals, alerting security staff when they find them. Others can communicate with employees or visitors to help them navigate safely through the facility.
Not every emerging security technology is as eye-catching as a robot, and sometimes, that’s by design. Such is the case with disguised barriers, which look like ordinary furnishings but protect buildings from vehicle-related accidents. These solutions keep employees, property and visitors safe without compromising a business’s curb appeal.
New technologies let companies construct robust protective barriers in unassuming shapes and sizes. As a result, a structure that looks like an ordinary flower planter can stop a 7.5 metric ton vehicle moving at 40 mph. The strength of these barriers ensures everyone inside is safe, while their design improves morale and attracts customers.
Traditional crash barriers may appear intimidating or overly industrial. These structures could drive customers away or make the workplace feel less comfortable, lowering morale. Disguised barriers remove these negative side effects while maintaining protection.
Novel construction materials are one of the innovations behind disguised barriers, but that’s not their only use case. Newly discovered or lab-grown materials can offer far more strength in a lighter or more flexible package. For example, graphene is so strong that if it coated a spider’s web, it could catch a falling plane without breaking.
These materials vastly improve the resilience of gates, barriers and other protective measures. Similarly, flexible options like graphene can form protective clothing for security guards or other workers who may encounter physical hazards. As research in this area continues, materials will keep getting stronger and lighter simultaneously.
Biometric security isn’t necessarily new, but new technologies are pushing it forward. Fingerprint scanners have become far more affordable and reliable than they used to be, letting many facilities replace outdated keycard systems. Physical biometrics themselves are no longer the peak of access security as behavioral biometrics gains traction.
Biometrics identify patterns in human behavior to distinguish between people. While most of these systems analyze computer use patterns like keystrokes, some can measure physical behaviors like someone’s gait or speech. These actions are harder for someone to fake, protecting restricted access areas from fraud.
Behavioral biometrics hasn’t seen much use in physical security yet, but as technology develops, it could. These systems can bolster traditional methods like passcodes and keycards to maintain a high bar for security.
New Technology Can Make Facilities More Secure
Every workplace has hazards, whether people realize it or not. As criminals’ methods become more sophisticated, so too must the security systems that stop them. These new technologies represent the latest in safety innovation.
Many of these technologies are still in their early stages, but they’re growing quickly. Before long, they could define modern security, making workplaces safer in the face of rising threats.