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Access Control: What are the consumer demands?

An analysis through the PACS market survey from Fact.MR identifies key areas of interest in the physical access control market and discovers what the consumer demands today


With the current and ongoing penetration of digital networks, data is a currency that keeps getting more valuable with the passage of time. Despite all the encryption and cloud computing tools available at the disposal of major companies for data security, there exist physical interfaces from where this data can be accessed and procured. Such interfaces range for huge server centres to the personal computers of individual employees. Thus, as the value of this data increases, the need for physical access control systems (PACS) through which entry into key areas can be regulated too increases.

Simultaneously, the importance of physical security remains unchanged. Crimes, petty and severe alike, pose a serious social problem that different administrations with widely varying administrative styles have been unable to effectively contain over centuries. Simultaneously, grave threats to personal security in previously secure areas have amplified in the era of terrorism and asymmetric warfare. More disturbing are the advanced tools available to criminals and other malevolent actors that aim to degrade the security environment. Fortunately, technology too today offers us various tools through which these risks can be mitigated and PACS lie at the vanguard.

The aim of PACS is to disrupt the traditional dichotomy envisioned between freedom and security. PACS help secure locations without posing a hindrance to movements or other mandated freedoms of individuals authorised to operate within these secured environments. As a result of these factors, the PACS market has formed strong roots among various industrial, institutional and residential sectors. The market witnessed an impressive CAGR of approximately 7.5% over the last five years and this growth is estimated to continue at a CAGR of 9% over the next decade. Furthermore, a breakdown of this market can serve as a guide to modern day security requirements.

Regional demand for PACS: Where is security prioritised

North America dominates the PACS market with 460 thousand PACS units sold in 2020. It is closely followed by the European market. However, there exists a substantial gap between demand for PACS units in these markets and in the other global segments. In East Asia, the most populous regional segment, the demand for PACS units is just about half of that in North America. Despite this, this segment is the third largest consumer for the PACS market. At the same time, East Asia is also the fastest growing regional segment for the market and this increase in demand has a direct link with China’s economic growth.

Thus, a broad regional dissection suggests that the demand for localised security architectures in different countries is directly proportional to its relative prosperity. However, a further analysis also points towards a greater need for security in urban areas. For example, the United States, with its high urban population density and a map dotted with major cities, accounts for over 85% of the North American PACS market; 400 thousand of North America’s 460 thousand PACS unit sales in 2020 took place in the United States. In value terms, the country accounted for USD 1.3 billion of North America’s USD 1.48 billion worth of PACS sales.

Consumer trends: Who is most concerned

A common assumption would be that large multinational corporations and especially those with a low risk appetite, would be overwhelming consumers of PACS units. However, statistics show that this assumption is overstated at best and erroneous at worst. While the various industries in combination were in fact the largest consumers of PACS systems in North America in 2020, this margin was not overwhelming. Of the total 460 thousand units, 101 thousand units (worth USD 324 million) were purchased by the residential sector while another 97 thousand (worth USD 312.3 million) were purchased by institutions.

Furthermore, within industries, the services, communication and media sectors, which are traditionally assumed to have a higher than average risk appetite, procured 141 thousand units worth USD 454.5 million. This can be attributed to the strong presence of local service providers and media outlets. On the other hand, PACS is considered integral to Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) and 22 thousand PACS units (worth USD 70.6 million) were sold in North America in 2020. However, there was no major difference between consumption by the BFSI sector and other key consumer industries for the market.

Other key consumers for the PACS market included transportation and utilities (24 thousand units worth USD 78.1 million), manufacturing (23 thousand units worth USD 75.1 million), and healthcare (17 thousand units worth USD 55.4 million); retail and other corporate sectors accounted for the remaining 35 thousand units worth USD 112.5 million. However, it needs to be borne in mind that the percentage population in North America involved in the BFSI industry is substantially lower than in Europe (where 1 in every 100 jobs is in BFSI), while the other mentioned sectors have a comparatively stronger profile.

Products the PACS market offers and what they tell us

The PACS market can be divided on the basis of the type of technology employed by individual units, namely: keypad-based PACS, card-based PACS and biometric-based PACS, with biometric based PACS further divided into fingerprint, face, palm, voice and iris recognition units. Biometric-based PACS brings the latest cutting-edge technology to the PACS market and is the leader in value terms with a North American market share worth USD 605 million in 2020. In volume terms too, the biometric-based PACS segment with 185 thousand units has nearly caught up with the card-based PACS segment (188 thousand units worth USD 600.8 million).

The advantage of biometric-based PACS lies in preventing security breaches due to loss or theft of cards and wrongful access to keypad codes. However, the units are also priced relatively higher than average, leading to card-based PACS retaining its current popularity. Meanwhile, keypad-based PACS, which are perhaps the most vulnerable to security breaches, have been relegated to a distant third spot with sales of 87 thousand units worth USD 276.7 million in 2020. Thus, it observed that by and large consumers are trying to bridge the gap between cost effectiveness and maximum possible security. Furthermore, the demand for maximum possible security seems to be winning the race.

Biometric-based PACS are expected to lead the tables in volume terms in the near future, aided in no small way by technology becoming more affordable. This shift is already being observed when the sectorial breakdown is considered. The BFSI sector, the most sensitive to security concerns, predictably consumed a higher percentage (approximately 50%) than average of biometric-based PACS units. However, over 24 thousand units of the 35 thousand units consumed by the retail and other corporates sector were biometric-based. More notably, 48 thousand of the 97 thousand units purchased by institutions were biometric-based. These numbers speak volumes about the priority given to maximum security in these sectors.

Conclusion: A security first approach

Though PACS consumption patterns are only one among several indicators that tell us how the contemporary security environment is conceptualised, they are of key importance due to the pivotal role played by PACS in securing locations. While monetary considerations in security remain important, people, institutions and companies are now prioritising security of personnel and data. This is also perhaps the correct approach to take in a world where threats to security are increasing in several, often unanticipated, ways. At the core, all productivity and profits rely on security. Thus, a security first approach is much warranted.

Exclusive article is courtesy of Shambhu Nath Jha, Senior Research Consultant, Fact.MR. Shambhu Nath Jha with an experience close to a decade, has helped over 50 large and medium to small business enterprises to foray into new markets, increase footprint in the existing bucket and understand the nature of the beast. These beasts are the companies that have been primarily engaged in ICT ecosystems and encountering challenge either in maintain P&L or staying ahead of their competitors. He has authored over 300 industry research papers consisting of critical information such as market growth, total addressable market, serviceable addressable market, market size, forecast, player strategies, market share estimates and winning imperatives along with recommendations. These insights are based on a report on Physical Access Control System (PACS)Market by Fact.MR. 

Commentary: Thomas Schulz, EMEA Product Marketing Director, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions

Security stakes are high at healthcare premises. Patients expect and deserve privacy and safety. Yet most medical buildings must remain welcoming spaces, many open around the clock. The protection of drugs and confidential data is critical — and every breach demands thorough investigation. Such needs go way beyond what the mechanical security was designed to meet.

Hospitals, for example, are often large and spread out. Their locks may need to integrate with fire detection, CCTV and other building systems. Labs and pharmacies are safer when access is managed with time-limited “keys” which can be revoked. In care homes, security must be matched by user-friendliness for a client group who may have limited dexterity or learning skills. Here, real-time control and monitoring can help managers to react quickly.

We ask too much of a traditional metal key if we expect it to do all this. Yet wired security doors can be an expensive retrofit option. Fortunately, there is a solution: wireless access control.

Wireless devices provide the easiest upgrade or replacement for any access system based on mechanical or magnetic locks. Credentials including RFID smartcards, programmable keys or secure mobile keys stored on a smartphone replace cumbersome physical keys. 

Wireless components make it cost-effective to add electronic control to many more areas of a building. With online locking systems, facility managers can monitor and manage premises at any time of day or night, even viewing the status of medicine cupboards or server racks from the same administration software interface.

Commentary: James Smith, CEO of Synel UK

Synel has already acquired extensive knowledge of what it takes to deliver effective access control solutions, having previously fulfilled the requirements of many existing clients, including banks, data centres, education facilities, commercial offices, retail, warehousing and manufacturing plants. 

We have seen steady growth in access control enquiries and sales, and the latest version of Synergy Access has been developed in response to feedback from existing customers who have told us they are placing much more value in the benefits delivered by the Cloud and latest technological advancements, such as facial recognition. Synergy Access is designed to provide a future-proof solution for access control applications of any size, from one building with just a few doors, through to multiple sited organisations that need to secure many thousands of entrances and exits. 


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Media contact

Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, Security Portfolio

Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922

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