Technological Advancements, Access Control Industry & Transitions In the GCC – Walid Chatti
We got a wonderful opportunity to learn about the access control industry and a lot more from Walid Chatti, an entrepreneur in multiple businesses and a specialist in market development and company management. In addition, he has exceptional expertise and immense knowledge in Access Control Solutions, Smart Cities and the Parking Industry.
We talked with him about it mostly being based in the GCC region. It was a good decision considering that Walid is a Middle East and North Africa “MENA” expert and has deep experience and knowledge of the Gulf Cooperation Council “GCC” region. Let’s get back to our interview with him below.
Walid, you are coming from the access control industry, especially people & car access and revenue management solutions. You have almost 12 years of subsidiary creation and management as well as strategy and business development experience in the Middle East & Africa region with Scheidt & Bachmann GmbH and SKIDATA GmbH, both worldwide leaders in the parking and people access industry. What can you tell us about the future of parking in the GCC region and its future evolution?
“Well, over the past decades, I have seen the region, especially the GCC growing exceptionally. The technological needs and locally available solutions and services have almost doubled in this period, and customer expectations are higher than in the European or American markets. While tenders used magnetic stripes and chip coins in the past as a technology medium, today, ticketless and free-flow are becoming increasingly popular. As a result of the post-covid era, the technology transition has accelerated worldwide, and in the GCC region, it was even faster.
The Gulf market is a very demanding market, always looking for innovative and inventive solutions.” says Walid.
Walid Chatti at the cybercrime Vs Cyber security networking talks at the Dubai Digital Park
He further continues, “I think, based on my experience in Dubai and Jeddah, that all future solutions will be mostly based on incorporating secured cameras (today mainly for recognizing the License plate of vehicle “LPR” and very soon for pre-damages records and even face recognition and cyber profile check) and on full-turnkey solutions providers with impeccable local service. Future success will come from companies prioritizing their customers’ needs and requirements and supporting them before thinking about their internal political concerns.
Currently, I see the region booming with startups and new solution providers. The regional rising development companies are much more flexible, versatile and customer-centric. Therefore, they have much more interest from GCC and international customers looking for more support and reactivity. Personally speaking, based on my prior experience in the GCC and Africa, locally developed solutions will be a market driver in the future years.
Why? Because they have a local reputation and they can’t lose it as it will be their end. They are striving to gain trust based on actions where international brands have gained it outside the region. Local developed and branded solutions strive to deliver a full life cycle and enhance the customer journey based on local requirements and very demanding customer needs.”
Tell us more about the LPR and the used term Secured. What do you mean by secure? Is it not the case today?
Walid shares, “We have sold thousands of license plate recognition “LPR” cameras in the Gulf region over the past decades, branded from Germany, China, Slovakia, Spain… Since then, recognition rates and their speed have been a frequent topic of debate, setting in this way new criteria for evaluation and comparison. In between, we encountered intrusions and misuse of the data captured by the cameras. This is because these data currently represent a real financial contribution to transactions and business in our field. So as not to divert the discussion in the wrong direction, I am pointing out the secured data transfer and management. I think that in the near future, data security will inevitably be part of every access control solution. Cyber threats are becoming more prevalent due to the process of keeping up with new technologies. Therefore, security controls like Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) or Identify Access Management (IAM) is becoming vital for any business.
Walid Chatti at ISNR Show 2022, Abu Dhabi, UAE
At the last ISNR show in Abu Dhabi, I was convinced about the secured LPR Cameras as I engaged my Group of companies in a partnership with a cybersecurity company named T-SCOP. This French and German based specialized company provides Cybersecurity products and services. They are an innovative actor in Europe with expertise in Managed Security Services, Technology Architecture & Implementation, Threat Management, and Incident Response.
I have discussed with their CEO, Mr. Mehdi the different eLearning activities they were offering to avoid cyber-attacks proactively. Cyber attackers are becoming very creative in threatening sensitive company information. By educating the staff of the company about malicious methods used by cybercriminals, we reduce the risks of data breaches or other cyber threats.”
Walid also shares his views on cybersecurity awareness and the future of access control. He says, “Increased cybersecurity awareness is therefore important and can be easily accomplished using dedicated eLearning platforms. As the future of access control will be based on cameras, we must inevitably start to work today on the right secured channels, the right adapted policies and increase the awareness to implement it today already.”
What about antivirus and secure firewalls? Is it not enough to secure the access control solution?
“While that may seem easy to do initially, as technology advances, cybercrime also evolves. Nowadays, we can find ready-to-use libraries for cyberattacks online, as open libraries are used in software development. So here, the choice of the right cybersecurity solution and the response to such attacks should be well elaborated and forecasted, technically and financially.
AI-based solutions are on the top list of new solutions to support an adequate response. This is, for example, unusual traffic on Sunday evenings or during holidays when parking lots, stadiums, etc., are not in use. Nevertheless, technology and AI should be an ally, not a threat.” says Walid Chatti. “In this regard, addressing the right policy is also important, as discussed with Professor Martin Spraggon at the ISNR Talks.
Getting back to your initial question, I see a future where access control solutions will be highly integrated with cybersecurity, with artificial intelligence that will be utilized for the right LPR, vehicle and person recognition, as well as augmented reality that will certainly be an unavoidable instrument in the customer centricity and customer journey.” he further continues.
We further asked, “Do you see other innovative solutions or interesting aspects in the region?”
He replies, “Of course, nowadays, unique innovations are being discovered and developed locally. An incredible innovation comes from a startup named Metadoc, which assists hotels in providing healthcare services to their guests in a very smart way. The startup was created by 3 intelligent individuals I had the honor to accompany for research and market analysis. I am confident that this will disrupt the region. Let’s wait in anticipation of the next update or version of this innovative and ever-evolving solution.
Furthermore, there are also amazing innovations internationally in the field of access control coming from Switzerland. The company named TBS is managed by a smart entrepreneur and friend, Stefan. It is the leading biometric solution provider and inventor of the 3D biometric terminal. These Swiss products and solutions are designed to suit the needs of enterprises of any size or industry. This 3D biometric touchless terminal is unique and provide fast, intuitive, and hack-proof identification. It will undoubtedly set new milestones in the access control industry!”
How do you see your company in the future with all these innovations? What will be the new innovation that you are working on?
“I will tell you more about it in the next interview. ;-)” concludes Walid Chatti.
Connect with Walid Chatti on LinkedIn.