Physical security’s role in smart buildings

This is a comprehensive guide to physical security in smart buildings and how the integration of both concepts can elevate the functionality, efficiency, and productivity of organizations.


A smart building is a site that intentionally integrates all systems, including the building management system (BMS), video, access control, and intrusion detection, into a single, remotely managed network. The benefits of creating a smart building surpass the basic need for safety and security.

With it, decision-makers can bring into being a place for innovation and collaboration. Not to mention it addresses one of the emerging top priorities for business owners, security directors, and security teams: healthy environments. The latest technologies unified by expert integrators facilitate continuous monitoring, automatic control, and better employee performance.

For decades, security and building operations have been performed by administrators, help desks, maintenance, and security teams. However, the current socio-economic landscape poses serious challenges, including mass staff shortages, high inflation, and the risk of future pandemics. Moreover, using traditional strategies increases the possibility of human errors and false positives, penalties, and reputational damage.

The solution is in opting for smart buildings as it automates processes, makes remote monitoring a reality, and gathers key data to optimize the health and safety of the building environment.


It is not uncommon to find BMS alongside video management systems or access control solutions in commercial buildings. However, it is rare to have these systems installed, serviced, and managed by the same integration company.

Avoiding disparity and contrasting data is frequently an issue leaders dismiss, until, unfortunately, it is too late. When a business has disconnected systems, inevitably, inconsistencies will be abundant and operations will fall out of sync.

Disparate systems are a vulnerability that makes it easier for important matters, like security breaches, to slip through the cracks. With smart building implementation, data can be integrated and coordinated. For instance, by integrating all building data into a common interface, anomalies in occupancy information could be used by physical security systems to detect a potential threat that otherwise could go unnoticed.


Building health is now one of the most pressing challenges. This comes after the experience of at-home/hybrid working models. The catalyst for healthy buildings might have been the pandemic; nevertheless, a healthy place to work focuses on more areas than just improved indoor air quality (IAQ).

For instance, touchless access control, lighting, moisture, thermal health, and water quality are other key variables that can be controlled, monitored, and optimized. The main purpose is to create healthier and safer conditions for every occupant by utilizing the latest technologies and real-time building metrics thoroughly.

Without a doubt, organizations are more likely to invest now in smart building solutions than they were pre-pandemic. The appeal is obvious, as new solutions provide leaders with unified data in a single platform, remote building management, predictive maintenance, real-time building health information, enhanced fire protection, and augmented security.

The above are not utopian features; rather, they are tangible advantages offered by smart and healthy building implementation. Leading-edge solutions can help decision-makers protect their assets and human resources and create an improved environment. Likewise, technology can equip building administrators with the tools they need to manage future and unpredictable challenges.


The implementation of smart buildings can better align with an organization’s goals and needs and offer an improved experience for employees, visitors, and tenants.

By making buildings intelligent and enabling more applications to connect, operational costs can be diminished and actionable insights can be gathered for more effective decision-making. Destination dispatch elevators, mobile credentials, biometrics, and IP-based video surveillance can create safer, more efficient premises.

The Internet of Things (IoT) takes a central stage in the creation of a healthy and smart building. IoT-enabled monitoring sensors let leaders monitor parameters, view analytics, run reports, and identify issues early. This revolutionizing technology is changing the way buildings are managed by helping organizations improve their business performance.

Conversely, manual control of environmental conditions can be labor-intensive, inefficient, and costly and it is often not aligned with higher goals, such as helping enterprises meet global climate change targets.

On the other hand, IoT is a superior alternative that enhances the collection of data, monitoring, and management of buildings. Reliable and real-time information gives site administrators alerts and practical recommendations and helps them cross-utilize data sources for higher veracity and fewer false alarms.

With valuable sensor information, organizations can create and maintain healthy and smart buildings. This data-driven approach is absolutely necessary to measure, identify, and demonstrate patterns and to communicate with all stakeholders.

Making informed decisions is only possible when the insights provided by smart building solutions are carefully evaluated. This process requires a combination of IoT and advanced analytic technologies.

IoT and state-of-the-art analytics offer the following benefits:
  1. Access to historical data, forecast modeling, benchmarking metrics, and actionable insights.
  2. Reports that provide structured data and keep management teams informed.

Smart buildings are powered by data and whether you have one location or multiple, all your devices and data should converge to a single network. Only then will your enterprise be able to leverage the efficiencies and increased security that these systems offer.

In order to achieve modern building control, it is key to transform living and office spaces, reduce operating costs, and improve occupant experience. These goals can be achieved with cloud-based technologies.

Applying the smart building concept requires a shift in perspective: buildings are not static and inert structures that use disparate systems and devices. Rather, they are dynamic places connected to a network with intelligent and adaptable software, able to automate processes and control the operations of their entire complex. Smart buildings are constantly changing and adapting to new realities.

The cloud, a key element for smart buildings, facilitates this process. It allows building owners and operators to avoid the expensive costs of on-premise data storage and offers exceptional flexibility, scalability, and functionality as the needs of the building change.

With the cloud, backing up critical data across a range of servers in multiple locations to boost redundancy is doable. This is a sophisticated way to get a holistic view of building safety and performance; an efficacious approach to allow systems to “communicate” with each other. Disparate systems, on the other hand, lead to unwarranted complexity and inefficiencies due to a lack of proper connectivity and communication.


Mobile credentials: Access control in mobile devices is particularly desirable for access management. No doubt, it is easier and more convenient to navigate buildings using a smartphone or smartwatch (Apple & Android) than any other type of physical credential, like a key or a card.

Digital IDs are really the most sophisticated tool available now and the benefits are invaluable. This functionality can be expanded to a variety of mobile devices, it is cost-effective, and it normally requires two-factor authentication for increased security.

Mobile solutions are secure as long as the proper encryption and security standards are applied. Therefore, it is important to choose a professional integrator that utilizes best practices to avoid any security breaches

Video surveillance: Monitoring an organization 24/7, with the right video technologies allows administrators to supervise what is happening remotely, from a smartphone or tablet, deter criminal acts, and prevent incidents.

As smart video surveillance solutions utilize AI and machine learning technologies and become more popular and accessible, decision-makers must consider the clear advantages of integrating them into smart buildings. The current state of affairs demands this transition to increased coverage and protection.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and deep learning technologies have transformed video surveillance and allowed it to continuously process more video and data, in synchronicity with the rest of the systems. The result is more accessible and useful information, which can be used to enhance safety, security, and operational decision-making. Intelligent insights and alerts can keep people and assets safeguarded 24/7.

Access control: Valuable information provided by IoT sensors can help facilitate continuous monitoring, automate control of parameters, and generate practical insights.

Moreover, the utilization of touchless access control — a form of access control that does not require a user to physically make contact with a reader to gain door entry — is significantly beneficial. Not only does it contribute to a safer atmosphere, but it is also very convenient.

Smart access control works by verifying the identity of a person through biometric or mobile app authentication and controlling entry to the smart building remotely. This solution does not require physical interaction such as touching an access card or card reader, touching a handle to open a door, or pushing a button to exit.

Drones: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are a popular utility when it comes to photography, data collection, and surveillance. Because many drones are equipped with a camera and can be hooked up to smartphones for real-time footage and data feeds, drones have a practical purpose for organizations.

Drones can collect valuable information, take pictures and videos from above with exceptional resolution, get a closer look at threats, identify specific information, and provide more accurate data.

Since smart buildings are able to monitor energy consumption, predict maintenance, improve building efficiency, and reduce overall operating costs, drones can be deployed as a complementary technology to provide critical information, in real-time, and enhance physical security on large sites.


Eco-efficiency: Smart buildings support the environment through the use of materials and technologies that optimize energy utilization while reducing their negative impact on the planet

Performance: A key component of smart buildings is the use of sensors. Sensors and detectors transmit alerts to a central management system and can be used for visualization, analysis, and performance improvement. Data collected by these devices is applicable and can include capacity, temperature, energy consumption, and supplies.

Health: Smart buildings require the proper implementation of HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, so they can be controlled through smart building infrastructure. Having optimal humidity rate, air purification and temperature in the facility offers the ideal conditions for employee and consumer well-being, product storage, or any other needs particular to your business.

Security: Smart buildings have remote connectivity and better security than traditional facilities as they focus on both the physical and cybersecurity aspects. This convergence of technologies is something smart buildings are already primed to be able to do.

For smart buildings, it is vital that physical and network business operations converge through a common, remote, cloud-based platform to generate data that is accurate and entirely actionable. Only by avoiding system disparity can a site become intelligent and impenetrable.