While sustainability is by no means a new concept, it has taken some time for it to really impact the physical security sector. However, following macro drivers such as the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and as the effects of climate change become more alarming, a commitment to sustainable principles is being pushed in all aspects of business. Security is not immune.
As Omdia analysts outline, however, sustainability does not just take environmental factors into account. There are also social and economic considerations to be made as organisations must endeavour to meet people, planet and profit line targets simultaneously.
Leading security vendors are now including sustainability achievements such as corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental, social and governance (ESG), and sustainability in their reporting systems.
Environmentally friendly security solutions
From an environmental perspective, issues affecting climate change cover everything from lowering energy usage and reducing waste to cutting CO2 emissions and sourcing products from sustainable manufacturing processes.Wireless systems have regularly been touted by video surveillance, access control and alarm
vendors as reducing waste, as one example. However, there is also an evolving market for solar-powered CCTV systems, as well as a drive to help protect renewable energy sites. Analysts point to one example of a solution for solar farms that utilises thermal imaging technology to identify the hot spots on solar panels and improve inspection efficiency.
Companies like Sunstone Systems, for instance, are witnessing success in the solar-powered CCTV sector. The business raised another £1m in equity finance in October to fund its expansion of wireless surveillance solutions using renewable energy, underlining growing demand.
The social ethics of AI?
Social sustainability is a key area of contention in the security market at present. As the development of AI and IoT technology has produced ‘big data’, there are growing concerns around the misuse of the resulting data creating breaches in trust at its best, and fundamental ethical and moral issues at worst.
AI ethics isn’t an issue for the security industry to solve alone, of course. It’s a more holistic problem that the technology sector must face up to in the coming years. However, those end-users utilising AI in their video surveillance systems must consider the potential social risks and do what they can to mitigate them.
Facial recognition systems continue to face scrutiny, particularly when used in the public space. UK retailer Co-Op, for instance, faced kickback when implementing a facial recognition system across 35 branches. Despite its argument that the technology was purely designed to reduce theft and increase store safety, privacy campaigners argued the deployment was a breach of privacy and “not in accordance with the law”.
The drive towards ‘as-a-service’ models for economic sustainability
Finally, Omdia analysts point to economic sustainability – that being a company’s ability to meet its financial obligations over a long-term period without negatively impacting on its social and environmental elements. Physical security technology that has a lower energy consumption will no doubt support this process, but there are more prevalent trends in this sphere, too.
In particular, the growing adoption of cloud-based systems continues, and this is resulting in a shift towards a ‘as-a-service- business model. Its an appealing move for many end-users, where they can reduce their capital expenditure and lower maintenance costs, alongside fewer on-premise power hungry devices requiring a home.
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