Sustainability and the role of physical security technology

Sustainability and the role of physical security technology

With sustainability becoming a central focus for nations, cities and businesses around the world, Firas Jadalla, Regional Director – Middle East, Turkey & Africa, Genetec, looks at how physical security tech can play its part.

The Middle East has brought sustainability to the centre stage. With the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) being held in Dubai this year, the UAE declared the year as the “Year of Sustainability”. Furthermore, a recent PwC report found that more than one-third of companies surveyed hope COP28 will lead to governments improving ESG infrastructure and providing incentives for green growth.

However, the role that physical security can play as part of a broader sustainability strategy is often overlooked. While their primary purpose is to safeguard against physical threats, physical security measures can have a significant impact on a broader sustainability strategy.

Supporting green building initiatives

IP-based physical security systems such as access control, surveillance cameras, and alarm systems can be integrated with building automation systems. Access control systems can be used to zone building areas based on their environmental requirements while physical security systems can provide data on room occupancy and usage patterns.

This information can help building managers make informed decisions about space utilisation, potentially leading to consolidating office areas or facilitating flexible work environments, allowing employees to use shared workspaces based on their access permissions. Incorporating physical security systems into a green building initiative can help maximise resource efficiency, reduce operational costs, enhance occupant comfort, provide data-driven insights and contribute to the overall sustainability of the facility.

Creating more livable cities

Growing advancements in physical security technology, such as analytics, and the capacity to integrate data from various sensor types (to monitor pollution levels, noise, vibrations, etc.), enable cities to address urban challenges more proactively, and help them achieve their sustainable development goals. When integrated as part of a unified security infrastructure, these sensors complement other surveillance solutions by enabling users to monitor both safety and environmental conditions.

Data from video surveillance can also be used to assist citizen mobility, for instance directing drivers quickly and efficiently to available parking spots or electric vehicle recharging stations. Video surveillance and traffic monitoring systems can be used to optimise traffic flow, reducing congestion and idling times. This not only saves fuel and reduces emissions but also contributes to a more sustainable transportation system. Video footage and analytics can reveal a lot about road usage. Using this data, city leaders and planners can then make informed decisions about widening roads, creating bus and cycle lanes, and pedestrianising areas — making city living more sustainable.

Increasing resilience during severe weather events

Surveillance cameras and IoT sensors can be used to implement early flood detection and warning systems in cities to give authorities the time to prepare for severe weather. Systems can alert officials as soon as they detect that a threshold has been breached, allowing for connected technology to relay live and pre-recorded instructions to aid in evacuation efforts or re-route traffic. In the aftermath of natural disasters, physical security technology can also be of great help with rescue and relief operations, providing long-term data collection to inform flood defence planning.

While dedicated ESG practices are necessary, organisations, cities, and nations must adopt holistic strategies that encompass every aspect of daily life. Physical security technology, often viewed as a guardian of assets and safety, emerges as an unexpected but strong ally in the pursuit of sustainability objectives. Its integration into sustainability strategies represents a forward-thinking approach that not only protects assets and lives but also paves the way for a more eco-conscious and resilient future. Organisations and cities that recognise the potential of physical security technology in supporting the sustainability agenda are poised to reap the benefits of a greener, safer, and more sustainable world.