From trust to population dynamics: the broader trends affecting the security sector in 2020

As a technology company, it’s obvious to say that we need to be highly aware of advancements and trends in technology in order to apply them in our solutions. For the past few years we have published a blog post which looks at the technology trends that will affect the security and surveillance industry over the following 12-months.

However, we also look at macro trends which will have an effect on the sector and our business. These trends are much broader, and attached to economic, social and political factors, but will likely have as much of an impact on the security industry as advances in technology.

1. Trust: the common link between trends

trust

In our technology trends post, the concept of trust is a central theme. From a technological perspective, trust relates primarily to cybersecurity and privacy: whether business and citizens can feel confident that products are adequately protected against cyberattacks, and that the data captured is being processed and stored responsibly.

The macro view of trust is of course related, but much broader. Studies have shown that over recent years trust in business, government, media and NGOs has, in the main, been eroding. The reasons for this are many and varied – from skepticism about the reliability of online content to concern regarding government access to personal data – but consumer uncertainty about businesses and institutions ‘doing the right thing’ will continue to be a defining trend.

In addition to trust being a concern for consumers, it will also be an ever-increasing aspect of business-to-business relationships. Whether related to commitments towards sustainability; ensuring supply in a turbulent global environment; having a clear ethical position on key issues; or an employer recognizing and responding to its employees’ concerns, more business customers will be measuring trust and ethical factors in their buying decisions.

While we subscribe to the saying that ‘ethics starts where the law ends’ it is obviously imperative to adhere to international and local regulations where they exist. Signing up to the UN Global Compact is fundamental for any business committed to ethics but should be regarded as a baseline for additional internal initiatives. In addition, adhering to regulation designed to ensure more responsible business behaviour – such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)– is clearly essential. But it is likely that legislation will struggle to keep pace with the acceleration in the capabilities of technology.

2. The need to feel secure

feel secure

If a trend can be a constant one, then the need to feel secure is a good example. Appearing as part of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, after the fundamental physiological needs of air, water, food, shelter and warmth, human needs related to safety are at the next level. And while evidence suggests that we are living in a safer era than any before, this doesn’t always translate into people’s perception regarding their personal safety.

Whether it is because the need to feel secure is so fundamental to humans and/or that the media narrative tends to support a more negative view of the world – more readily highlighting bad news in relation to personal safety – the individual need to feel safe and secure is always prominent in people’s thoughts.

For those of us working in the security sector, this need has several implications. Principal amongst them, of course, is the need to navigate a line between a level of surveillance that meets the human needs of feeling safe in both public and private environments, without causing concerns about individual privacy. Again, the solution will involve both legislation and innovations in technology.

3. Sustainability and the environment

sustainability and the environment

It would be impossible to write a post about global macro trends and not mention the need for greater steps to be taken in sustainability and reducing environmental impact. Evidence of the negative effects of climate change is overwhelming, and everyone – individuals and businesses – need to take steps towards reducing the environmental impact of their activities.

As mentioned previously, clear evidence of an organization’s commitment to sustainability will become an increasingly significant decision-making factor for customers, at least in certain key markets across the world. And even in those markets that don’t demand such stringent environmental credentials, from an ethical perspective responsible business should be taking every possible step voluntarily.

Of course, while technology businesses must look to reduce the impact on the environment of their own operations – including buildings, transportation and manufacturing – technology is also part of the solution. Connected sensors of all types, including surveillance cameras, can help to manage resources and energy in urban environments and buildings.

4. Changing population dynamics

population dynamics

The importance of the trends above – particularly the need to feel safe and energy management – will only become more important on relation to another trend: urbanization. More than half of the world’s population already lives in cities, with this number predicted to increase to more than 60% by 2030. More than 150 new cities of more than 1 million inhabitants are expected to be added globally between 2018 and 2030, with an additional 10 new ‘megacities’ (those with a population of more than 10 million) added in the same period.

The need, therefore, to use technology to better manage urban environments and support their populations will become critical. This has given rise to the concept of the ‘smart city’, where connected sensors and data are used to better and more efficiently manage a city’s infrastructure and services to the benefit of its citizens. While smart cities create efficiencies and improvements in many areas – from mobility and transportation to energy consumption; from effective emergency response to early-warning of disruptions through severe weather – one of the most important aspects of the liveability of any city relates to an earlier trend: the human need to feel safe.

5. The impact of global politics

global politics

While it would be nice to think that any industry sector, including security, can operate in relative independence of politics, in recent years the impact of the global macroeconomic environment on specific aspects of business is clear to see. Global powers using business and international trade as economic weapons – whether through tariffs on specific goods, components and raw materials, or banning manufacturers from one market in selling to another – looks set to continue and creates a more uncertain environment to navigate. A primary objective for any manufacturer – Axis included – is to ensure continuity of product supply to our partners and customers, and a constant view across the changing political landscape is central to ensuring that.

Ultimately, in the face of these global macro trends, our role is to adhere as closely as we possibly can to our principles, aligning our own commercial objectives with global initiatives and goals around sustainability and ethical business. You can read more about how Axis addresses many of these issues in our annual Sustainability Report.

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