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The physical security industry has been traditionally conservative when it comes to adopting new technology. The slow move to modernise meant that the security industry was not top of mind for candidates seeking to build careers in ‘exciting’ fields where technology is seen to be driving innovation.
Since then, massive pandemic-driven changes in the threat landscape and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) have accelerated the digital transformation of the physical security industry at an unprecedented pace. Cybersecurity, cloud migration, AI, machine learning, and analytics have become an integral part of the physical security ecosystem. Yet, the perception that the industry is slow to innovate remains, leading to a skill and talent shortage.
As security and IT converge, the physical security industry presents significant career opportunities for technology professionals seeking interesting, meaningful, and lucrative work. Here are some of the reasons why.
Protecting against cyberthreats
Today, physical security deployments are rich with IoT devices such as cameras and sensors. These devices have benefited organisations’ ability to improve security and monitor activities in large, distributed spaces. However, with the benefits of connectivity, accessibility, mobility, and data sharing come added cybersecurity risks. Devices such as video surveillance cameras, access control readers, and alarm panels can provide an entry point to gain access to networks of large and small enterprises.
Securing these devices with new strategies for managing access to them is paramount. Companies are increasingly recognising the importance of proactively protecting against cyberthreats and the potential vulnerability of their IoT devices. To mitigate these threats, organisations need to recruit professionals who possess both risk-mitigation and IT skills.
Making sense of data
With the proliferation of physical security IoT devices, organisations now have access to a goldmine of data collected by surveillance cameras, video management systems (VMS), access control systems (ACS), automated license plate readers (ALPR), intrusion systems and other connected physical security devices. This data, combined with data analytics, goes beyond crime response and expense management, offering new possibilities.
In fact, a recent Genetec survey of 3,700 physical security leaders worldwide showed that almost two-thirds (63%) of all respondents and 7 in every 10 organisations with over 10,000 employees described physical security and related data as “mission-critical”.
Managing this mission-critical data requires individuals who understand that physical security has become a strategic asset to cope with a variety of challenges that go beyond just mitigating risk. They need to have the skillset to play a significant role in their organisations’ digital transformation.
Innovating security solutions
The evolution of technology has brought about revolutionary changes in physical security practices. Cutting-edge advancements have given rise to biometric access controls, perimeter intrusion detection systems, and real-time tracking solutions. These innovations empower organisations to fortify their premises, protect valuable assets, and enhance emergency response protocols.
Security professionals now collaborate with engineers and technologists to design intricate security architectures that seamlessly integrate with digital infrastructure. The convergence of physical and digital security realms requires experts capable of envisioning and implementing cohesive strategies that ensure holistic protection against a spectrum of threats.
Roles are in demand and well compensated.
Cybersecurity is a fast-growing sector in the UAE, with the market projected to grow by 12.72 per cent CAGR from 2023 to 2028. This growth is being driven by a number of factors, including the increasing digitisation of the UAE economy, the growing threat of cybercrime, and the government’s focus on cybersecurity.
The Michael Page Salary Guide and Hiring Insights 2023 report notes that the UAE’s tech industry is experiencing a severe shortage of qualified candidates. The rapid expansion of the tech industry has outstripped the supply of IT workers, creating a high demand for qualified candidates.
The report also observed that technology-based salaries in the UAE have been increasing rapidly in recent years, with salaries in the tech industry on par with or even higher than those in traditionally high-paying industries such as finance. This is due in part to the country’s booming economy and its growing reputation as a hub for technology and innovation.
Aside from a global shortage in cybersecurity roles, talent to fill more traditional physical security roles is also in short supply. These roles offer attractive paths to leadership and provide a wealth of training and educational opportunities. Learning continues throughout this career and can include fire safety, emergency planning, evacuation procedures and more, as well as industry-specific training geared to the industry sector served.
Whether they are designing hardware and software, or selling and installing systems, the new generation of physical security professionals will need to be knowledgeable technologists in addition to their traditional security responsibilities.
As the physical security industry continues to evolve, it will require a diverse workforce populated by multifaceted individuals with varied backgrounds who can demonstrate the strategic acumen, technical knowledge, and analytical skills that are required to lead the physical security industry into the future and create a safer world for all of us.
Ephrem Tesfai is the sales engineering manager at Genetec