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“Buildings control systems are increasingly being deployed along with embedded communications technology to provide critical services that allow a building to meet the functional and operational needs of building occupants,” states our report Cyber Security in Smart Commercial Buildings.

“Smart buildings promise significant benefits to owners and operators in terms of efficiency, safety, comfort and functionality, but these systems also carry potential costs, as without the right levels of protection, they can act as tempting targets for would-be hackers and or malicious insiders,” a summary of the comprehensive research continues.

Hackers can use connected HVAC systems to access a building control system, in order to open a door and gain physical access to a property. Employees can bring corrupted mobile devices into a building, which can be used to circumvent cybersecurity. The worlds of physical and cyber building security are no longer separate, and convergence is needed to better protect against a new range of threats.

“People have been talking about [converging departments] for at least 10 years — having one person responsible for the whole thing,” says Michael Gips, chief global knowledge officer for ASIS International. “The advantages there, they say, are cost savings; more efficiency having one department, one leader, one common mission; and you have cross-training, so physical security personnel is learning about cybersecurity and vice versa.”

For the majority of companies, however, security and IT are still very separate and even at odds with one another. This is partly due to the perceived cost and disruption of converging the two departments, but also because of a lack of trust and respect between the two groups. “It used to be years ago that corporate IT departments didn’t want security departments hogging bandwidth — like with alarms and footage,” says Gips. “It would slow everything down. Now with cyber being so vast and storage being much cheaper, it’s not that big of a deal anymore.”

It would be easy to argue that smart building vulnerability is a cyber problem, as these vulnerabilities, even the new physical ones, did not exist before connected technology. Cyber introduced new problems to the physical world and cyber is creating the solutions. The traditional physical security business is being lost between its own digital evolution and the growing influence of IT on security systems. “Convergence” is starting to look like physical security is being absorbed by IT.

“The decision-making process within an enterprise has moved away from the traditional facilities or real estate team to IT and the [chief security officer] position—they’re thinking about physical and logical security and combining those with a comprehensive strategy,” says James Segil, co-founder and president of Openpath, a mobile access control system.

The artificial intelligence (AI) revolution taking place in video surveillance is the perfect example of how convergence is happening – one way or another. Video surveillance has traditionally been a tool of the physical security community, who can monitor or recall video footage to identify suspicious activity. However, as AI technology has improved, it has become evident that AI can also learn how to identify suspicious activity, then watch video feeds simultaneously. Orders of magnitude more than any reasonable number of trained humans.

AI, a tool of the IT community, offers a far more powerful video surveillance solution than traditional approaches. Meaning the security department needs to develop IT skills, utilize the skills of the IT department, or ignore a technology that is changing the physical security landscape.

The world market for Video Surveillance products is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.43% to 2023, according to our latest Physical Security Business report. “The reason for this is the demand for AI Video Analytics that should gradually be taken up over the next 5 years having the potential to add a further $2.3Bn to the video surveillance market in 2023. AI Video Analytics will be the number one game changer over the next 10 years in the video surveillance business, influencing the growth of most products that make up this business,” the report states

Be it video surveillance, access control, guarding from drones, or identifying suspicious activity, fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies are changing the ways we protecting ourselves from vulnerabilities presented by that same technology. This is a new security landscape for buildings, one that creates a technology arms race between attackers and building security systems.

“We need to understand that the world is changed,” Bohne says. “There is a changing workforce, which sometimes can make one group or another hesitant to grow this knowledge or expand into that area.” Matthew Bohne, vice president and chief product security officer at Honeywell.

Convergence should not be through a lens of power shifts and job losses but as an opportunity to make the building better. The world is becoming more technological but IT still has a lot to learn from those who have been focused on building security for decades. By sharing information and working together, physical and cyber security departments can create better buildings. “Convergence improves the user experience, which I think is what we all want at the end of the day when we go to work,” Segil concludes.