AI in Physical Security: Efficiently Transforming Safety

AI in Physical Security

Physical security incidents are on the rise, resulting in significant challenges for organizations of all sizes.

In 2022, Global companies crossed the $1 trillion threshold in lost revenue thanks to physical security incidents. And more than 8 out of 10 security professionals say they feel less prepared to handle physical security than ever before.

This escalating threat environment has led to many businesses struggling to manage security effectively, with traditional methods proving too labor-intensive and prone to human error.

Artificial intelligence offers a solution.

Already 80% of companies are actively leveraging or in the process of incorporating AI into their everyday operations—automating routine tasks, creating content, processing and analyzing data.

And now, AI can positively address many of the increasing physical security challenges we face, making our environments safer by enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of security operations.In this blog, we’ll explore how.

How AI Is Currently Being Leveraged in Physical Security

As far back as the 1990s, artificial intelligence was being used in physical security applications, primarily for access control systems using fingerprint scanners.

Fast-forward three decades, and AI is in its physical security revolution era. It provides advanced tools that efficiently enhance traditional security methods, leading to better security, faster response, and safer outcomes.

Video Surveillance and Monitoring

AI-powered video analytics significantly upgrade traditional surveillance systems. These analytics use sophisticated algorithms to detect suspicious behavior, unauthorized access, and other potential threats in real time.

This technology speeds up response times and improves the overall accuracy of threat detection. AI's facial recognition and behavioral analysis capabilities allow for effective monitoring of large areas with fewer resources.

Security teams can quickly identify and address issues, enhancing the efficiency and reliability of surveillance operations.

ZeroEyes Logo
ZeroEyes—a gun detection technology born out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas active shooter incident—uses AI to quickly (often 2-3 seconds) detect brandished firearms within view of any software-equipped camera, alerting law enforcement and local security immediately.

Access Control Systems

AI can actively enhance access control by integrating advanced biometric authentication methods. Facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, and voice recognition systems use AI to make instant decisions about granting or denying access.

This real-time decision-making process strengthens security while reducing the need for constant human oversight. AI-driven access control systems are proven to be more reliable and secure, reducing the risk of false positives or negatives and preventing unauthorized access more effectively than traditional methods.

AI-infused access control systems also easily integrate with existing security infrastructure, providing a comprehensive security solution.

Many world governments have implemented AI-powered access controls for government and military buildings, airports, and other high-security facilities.

Verkada Security Camera AI in Physical Security

Incident Prediction and Prevention

By continuously monitoring data from various sources, AI identifies anomalies indicating potential threats, allowing for preventative measures before incidents occur.

AI systems swiftly process vast amounts of data, detecting subtle patterns often missed by human analysts. AI can monitor access logs and surveillance footage to spot unusual activities, like repeated access attempts at odd hours. When anomalies are detected, AI escalates the issue for investigation, enabling security teams to act before threats materialize.

AI can also integrate external data sources—like social media and public records—to enhance threat assessments. Correlating internal security data with external information can provide a comprehensive view. An AI system could flag access attempts by individuals involved in recent legal disputes or connected with competitors, mitigating insider threats.

Additionally, AI's predictive analytics identify vulnerabilities within security infrastructures. By analyzing historical data on breaches and incidents, AI pinpoints weak points and recommends improvements, which allows organizations to update security measures to counter emerging threats.

Verkada LogoVerkada’s AI-Powered Search uses advanced computer vision and hybrid cloud processing to quickly and accurately find people and vehicles in security footage, enhancing investigation capabilities while maintaining data privacy.uses advanced computer vision and hybrid cloud processing to quickly and accurately find people and vehicles in security footage, enhancing investigation capabilities while maintaining data privacy.

Emergency Response

AI-driven security systems are invaluable in emergencies because they coordinate responses efficiently, effectively, and, most importantly, rapidly. These systems automate alert processes and disseminate critical information to responders in real-time, ensuring swift action to mitigate the impact of the crisis.

  • Automated Alert Processes

AI systems streamline the alert process by detecting emergencies and sending notifications to relevant personnel and authorities. If an AI-powered surveillance system detects an unauthorized intruder or a fire, it will trigger an alert immediately, reducing response time.

  • Real-Time Information Dissemination

AI systems collect and analyze data from various sources, providing a unified view of the current situation. This data helps responders understand the scope and severity of the emergency, enabling them to deploy appropriate resources and strategies.

  • Managing Multiple Data Streams

AI excels at integrating and analyzing data from diverse sources—like security cameras and environmental sensors—to provide a comprehensive situational overview. This integration helps responders make quick, data-driven decisions and ensures no critical information is overlooked.

  • Enhancing Decision-Making

AI enhances decision-making by providing predictive analytics and actionable insights. Certain AI systems can predict the spread of a fire based on current and historical data, allowing firefighters to counteract effectively. AI can also analyze crowd movement during security breaches to help manage evacuations.

AI security systems will enhance the speed and effectiveness of crisis management, providing responders with the information and tools they need to act swiftly and decisively.

AI in Physical Security Challenges

Challenges and Answers

AI is new. It can be confusing and complex to understand. And there can be legitimate concerns about implementing AI in any system. Let’s address the most common challenges:

Privacy Issues

Challenge: The deployment of AI in security systems raises significant privacy concerns. The extensive data collection necessary for AI operations must be balanced with privacy rights.

Answer: Implement strict data governance policies and ensure transparency in AI operations to ensure ethical use. Organizations must communicate how data is collected, used, and protected to build stakeholder trust.

Bias and Accuracy

Challenge: AI algorithms can be biased if not properly designed and maintained.

Answer: Ensuring high accuracy and minimizing biases requires regular audits and updates, as well as diverse data sets for training the AI models. Properly developing AI Governance and an AI Risk Management Framework—and ensuring you follow those guidelines and guardrails—goes a long way in mitigating these risks.

Technical and Operational Challenges

Challenge: Integrating AI with certain legacy systems can be complex and costly. Ongoing maintenance, updates, and the need for skilled personnel to manage these systems are also significant considerations.

Answer: Invest in compatible AI solutions and train personnel to effectively manage and integrate these systems. Start with small-scale implementations to manage risks and expand systematically. Because talent can be difficult to find, consider engaging with a security partner who knows how best to install, maintain, and future-proof AI physical security systems.

Security of AI Systems

Challenge: AI systems themselves can be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Answer: Implement robust cybersecurity measures, conduct regular security assessments, and ensure that AI systems are updated and patched against vulnerabilities. Protecting these systems with solid cybersecurity measures is crucial to prevent them from becoming targets.

Embracing AI for Enhanced Physical Security

The opportunity for AI to reshape physical security is here. With enhanced threat detection, improved efficiency, scalability, and proactive risk management, AI can be a major player in strengthening security measures.

However, it is not a silver bullet. Human oversight and continuous improvement are essential.

Addressing privacy concerns, mitigating biases, overcoming technical challenges, and ensuring robust cybersecurity are crucial steps to maximize AI's benefits in physical security.

Contact a trusted security partner like HBS to explore how AI can enhance your physical security infrastructure and ensure a safer environment for all.

author avatar
Carly Westpfahl