Physical Security, As Told by Numbers

To sense the scale and magnitude of changes happening in physical security it helps to put numbers to what is happening across the industry.  There is no doubt that the last 5 years have brought a lot of changes to the industry – but can you put data to those changes and trends?  To be able to do so is useful for multiple reasons. 

A key reason to care about numbers is they act as the measuring stick for improvement (or to measure backsliding).  In a recent article from Clyde Hewitt showed a graph that tracked both new and recurring security issues; on a weekly basis one could see that the total number would change, and ideally could be correlated to actions taken in that period.  This is just one example of the type of data that physical security management should track and care about. 

Numbers are also useful to decide if something is normal, or if there has been a “holy moly” moment where it’s clear that things are way off the rails.  Having data that you can benchmark against others in the industry also helps to assess if the right budget, personnel, or other resources are being applied to physical security. 

In no particular order, here are some numbers I’ve come across recently that give perspective on physical security trends, and what we can expect as hot topics during the year:

Number:  >34,000
What It Is:  Number of Open Jobs in Physical Security Posted on LinkedIn
Why It Matters:  Automation.  Whether it is using automated verification and diagnostic tools to make technicians more efficient, robots to replace humans for basic/mundane tasks, or the move to AI-based analytics to remove guesswork, the gap in available humans urgently needs to be reduced and automation is the industry’s most promising direction to make this happen. 

Number:  1 Zetabyte
What It Is:  Estimated Amount of Storage Data Generated from Surveillance Cameras in 2019
Why It Matters:  Machine Learning.  The more data and “knowledge” that can be absorbed into a machine-learning based system, the better the outcomes will be.  The industry is growing that data at a phenomenal rate, given higher camera resolutions and longer retention periods.  Putting that data to work in new ways to improve overall security is going to be a focus across the physical security industry. 

Number:  51%
What It Is:  Percent of Surveillance Systems More Than 5 Years Old
Why It Matters:  In physical security, can old dogs can be taught new tricks?  With new (and urgent) threats like cyber-security, more public focus on surveillance, and increased compliance requirements in many industries, older technologies need to be assessed to whether they can address these new requirements.  Ensuring performance and stability of older systems can be achieved through automated security system verification tools, giving end users a better ROI on their original investments.

Number: 30%
What It Is:  Percent of video evidence that can’t be retrieved when needed
Why It Matters:  Would you accept a 30% failure rate on anything else in your world?  Didn’t think so.  Especially with public focus (and expectation) that video evidence is available, not being able to produce video evidence on demand can be a reputation killer.  In addition, many compliance and audit standards have added requirements to prove that physical security systems are working as they should – or face significant penalties.  Automated physical security system verification solutions can help organizations achieve >99% uptime, thus making their overall ROI higher and ongoing expenses lower. 

Number:  2 weeks
What It Is:  Average time to find and fix a physical security system failure
Why It Matters:  This is making the overall costs of security much higher, and shows reactive method of end user finding the problem instead of a more proactive approach.  The article mentioned above, as well as private research, has shown that many organizations do not know when failures occur, and once discovered it typically takes 2 weeks to determine root cause and implement a fix.    

Number:  55,000
What It Is:  IT professional active in the Spiceworks Physical Security Group
Why It Matters:  If IT professionals are getting all over physical security, it’s a reflection of the challenges in security and how organizations are handling them.  In other words, if IT people are getting up to speed on physical security, shouldn’t physical security folks be getting more into IT? 

Number:  <70
What It Is:  Days until GSX 2018 (formerly ASIS) opens
Why It Matters:  Both GSX and ISC West offer the best opportunities to get in contact with both vendors and end users of new approaches to improving physical security.  Whether it is sharing best practices, learning about new technologies, or seeing how others are handling similar issues, gatherings like these are a meaningful way of improving physical security. 

Want to have numbers at your fingertips on your physical security system?  Viakoo makes it easy to track consistent metrics over time, like Video Path Uptime (VPU), Video Retention Compliance (VRC), and Video Stream Deliverability Index (VSDI).  Best of all, Viakoo is simple to install and operate, so gathering scientific proof and metrics is a few clicks away.  Visit for a free demo account, and start seeing the story numbers can tell about your security operation. 

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