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Illustration by iStock; Security Management

What We’re Watching: Topics on the Horizon for 2024

Security Management editors spend their days steeped in news—the good, the bad, and the ugly. While the end of the year is often a great time to look back (see our favorite articles from 2023 here), it’s also a time to look ahead at what is coming around the corner in 2024.

Here, members of the Security Management team broke out their crystal balls to consider what stories we saw developing in 2023 and what is likely to affect security professionals in 2024 and beyond.

Megan Gates, Security Management senior editor and Security Technology editor-in-chief

AI Regulation—with Teeth—Becomes Reality

If there was any doubt about who the leading regulators in the world are when it comes to technology, 2023 cemented the European Union as the champions of reigning in our technology landscape.

Perhaps the most important—especially to the security industry and practitioners—was the EU Parliaments decision to adopt the EU Artificial Intelligence Act in December 2023. It creates strong rules and guidelines for artificial intelligence (AI) creators and vendors to follow, and will require security practitioners in Europe to adopt new approaches to the technology they’ve been exploring—facial recognition, emotion recognition, and social scoring—to improve security and safety within their organizations.

“The AI Act sets rules for large, powerful AI models, ensuring they do not present systemic risks to the Union and offers strong safeguards for our citizens and our democracies against any abuses of technology by public authorities,” said co-rapporteur, Dragos Tudorache, in a press release on the approval of the act.

The regulation will not go into effect until after 2024, but when it does it will fundamentally change how security technology is used across Europe—and potentially the world.

Failures of Imagination

The world—and the security industry—has changed significantly since the 9/11 terror attacks more than 22 years ago. But one finding of the 9/11 Commission, created in the aftermath of the tragic incident to investigate what happened, the response, and why the terrorists were able to succeed, has remained eerily relevant through 2023.

“The most important failure was one of imagination. We do not believe leadership understood the gravity of the threat,” the 9/11 Commission wrote in its report published 21 August 2004.

In June 2023, the U.S. Senate released a report on the 6 January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol finding that U.S. government agencies disregarded or downplayed large amounts of intelligence information before the assault, due in part to a “failure of imagination to see threats to breach the building as credible,” Security Management’s analysis of the report. Five months later, The New York Times broke the story that Israeli officials had obtained Hamas’s plan to carry out a devastating terrorist attack on 7 October 2023 nearly a year in advance. Officials dismissed the plan, however, as “aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out,” the Times reported.

These incidents and their after-action analysis reveal a continuous weakness in security practitioners—a failure to imagine that the worst day scenario is a credible threat that must be mitigated against. This weakness will not disappear in 2024. But acknowledging it will help security practitioners identify their own biases when assessing threats and, hopefully, take necessary steps to ensure their organizations are prepared to withstand the novel threats of tomorrow.

Scott Briscoe, ASIS International content development director

Mass Killings: Less of a Trend than an Epidemic

Which exact story? Pick one.

There were so many. We had Today in Security stories on studies trying to find lessons from previous attacks. We had articles on statistics. We had articles as attacks were still developing. Schools shootings seem to have become America’s worst export—and that story was the middle story of three straight days of mass murder Today in Security reports. And as the other Security Management editors will tell you, we typically avoid focusing on mass killing coverage because it could be the story just about every day. We generally only write up mass killing Today in Security when there is something notable or different about a particular attack. That happened three days in a row in 2023.

Facial Recognition: A Global Area of Growth

Writing “China Announces Facial Recognition Regulations” is when it hit me that facial recognition was not an imperfect technology that was coming in the months or years ahead. I had no idea how far China had taken the technology, and the photos and videos of stores in China that required a facial scan, which would then automatically unlock the door were a shock to me.

Just over a month later, my colleague writes about facial recognition being used as your ticket to a soccer match in Brazil—which by itself was mind-blowing—and then learning that the police were using those soccer ticket facial scans to catch wanted criminals. Add, for good measure, a survey (albeit one commissioned by purveyors of the technology) that at least some spectators (3 percent) were fine with facial recognition being used for security at entry points.

I think facial recognition is going to rapidly rewrite the rules for access control.

Claire Meyer, Security Management managing editor

Keep the Mental Health Conversation Going

2023 brought the launch of ASIS’s new working group on mental health and wellness, encouraging ongoing conversations about trauma, self-care, and team support across the security profession. Mental health concerns have long been considered a taboo topic for security professionals—and their public sector counterparts in the military and law enforcement. It’s exciting and encouraging to see more security leaders publicly speaking out about the trauma posed by security incidents and risks.

Security Management covered this topic in a content package in February 2023, and we’ve been on the lookout for other mental health and workplace wellness topics throughout the rest of the year. We’ll keep it on our radar in 2024 and beyond.

Loss Prevention vs. Customer Service

Organizations are facing an ongoing balancing act, especially in the retail sector. News stories abounded in 2022 and 2023 about increasing retail crime and shoplifting, and retailers responded by locking up merchandise, training employees not to intervene with thefts in progress, and even closing some stores. It’s debatable right now whether retailers took a step too far in some sectors by making it more difficult for honest customers to purchase goods.

Security Management covered organized retail crime, shoplifting, retail violence, and insider threat throughout 2023, and that coverage is likely to continue.

In 2024, retailers are likely to confront those conundrums and make strategic decisions about how much risk and loss they are willing to accept in order to continue to profit from in-person sales.

Sara Mosqueda, Security Management associate editor

Workplaces vs. Wildfires

Climate change and how it impacts individuals and the private organizations that are responsible for people while on the proverbial clock has been on our radar for a while now, but this year and its major weather and climate events have pressed the issue for Western countries. This article, “How to Protect Your Security Team from Wildfire Smoke Exposure,” felt particularly impactful because while the phenomenon of poor air quality related to pollution or wildfires is relatively new to parts of the United States, other countries (for example, India and China) have been grappling with the issue for decades.

Hopefully, security practitioners from all over the world can learn how to mitigate the various impacts of climate events on their colleagues and staff, and ultimately encourage solutions and best practices to their own organizations or even as an industry. But it’s definitely an issue that you can expect to read more about in 2024—weather events like hurricanes or tornadoes might only seem to last for a few hours or days, but they can claim thousands of lives. Also, the impacts can be far-reaching and can remain subtle or hidden for days, weeks, and even years.

For more coverage on extreme weather in 2023, take a look at Claire Meyer’s “Extreme Heat Waves and Deaths Drive Concerns About Workplace Safety,” “Australia Poised to Face Another Summer of Harsh Bushfires,” and her weather roundup in August; “Scientists Announce July is Hottest Month Ever,” and “Climate Change Responsible for $150 Billion in Damage in the U.S. Every Year,” also by yours truly; “Twenty Thousand People Ordered to Evacuate as Wildfire Nears Northwest Territories Capital,” by Megan Gates; and “Today’s Roundup: Devastating Floods in Libya, Deepfakes, Manhunt Ends, and More,” by Scott Briscoe.

Hardening Soft Targets

Gun violence in the United States and violent attacks in other nations isn’t going anywhere. Recent years have seen attacks on students, patients, healthcare providers, parade-goers, and, of course, the security guards who try to protect civilians. Whether it’s through training, CPTED, or physical security solutions supported by AI, organizations (i.e., retailers, entertainment venues, schools, hospitals, etc.) and their facilities will likely continue to consider how to balance securing their physical assets and personnel with providing a welcoming environment for patrons and guests.

The Security Management editorial team and security professionals provided their expertise to cover retail violence, school shootings, violence in hospitals, CPTED, and more along this vein in 2023, and similar coverage should be expected for the coming year.

International Engagement, Business Continuity, and Mass Migration  

Italy, Albania Announce Agreement to House Migrants Prior to Processing” by Scott Briscoe stood out to me because anti-immigration policies and opinions seem to be increasing in popularity. While there is an understandable concern to protect a nation’s borders from those who wish its citizens and institutions harm, xenophobic interests end up harming the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and solutions that organizations and societies benefit from a diverse workforce and populace.

The Geneva Academy estimates that there are more than 45 armed conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa regions, more than 35 throughout all of Africa, 21 in Asia, and seven in Europe. This does not take into account violent skirmishes in Latin America between gangs or drug cartels. All of these conflicts generate refugees—presenting organizations and their security leaders with both challenges and opportunities.

With these international and internal conflicts occurring on nearly every continent, global powers are likely to be entangled throughout 2024. Organizations will be impacted by some kind of fallout from armed conflicts—whether it’s a call to evacuate personnel from an area that suddenly attracts fighting, watching out for employees who may be radicalized by extremist views and incited to violence, a sudden supply chain issue as sanctions interrupt a source of materials or services, or some other domino down the line.

Beyond investigations and shoring up security systems, organizations are also likely to rely on soft skills to keep tabs on how employees are reacting to developing issues and encourage a sense of support and safety during trying times.