Let’s face it, electronic security has not always been the most technologically progressive industry. But that mentality and resistance to change has made perfect sense. The basics worked pretty darn well; you didn’t want to tinker with safeguarding lives and property, not to mention liability; the cash was rolling in; more advanced technology required more training that cost both time and money; and manufacturers were not targeting security for leading-edge innovations. Notice I phrased all of that in past tense, because I believe our industry has finally turned the technological corner.
Several developments have led to a true paradigm shift that I will call Electronic Security 2.0. These include the impact of 9/11 in promoting security awareness and making it a priority in the private and public sectors, and subsequent influx of both large, familiarly branded manufacturers and smaller, Silicon Valley-type high-tech firms. Additional key factors include: the convergence of physical and logical security; consumer zeal for technology due to the Internet and personal electronics like iPods, GPS devices and smartphones; younger, IT-savvy and next-generation owners/managers entering the fray; and the refinement, improved reliability and lower cost of complex security products. Finally, the economic downturn has made security contractors more open to trying new things, and suppliers more committed to helping them succeed in doing so.
The combination of all these circumstances came to a head at the recent ISC West event, where the now truly technologically progressive electronic security industry flourished in all its glory. Sure, high-tech items have been displayed before but this time was different. Having attended this show the past 12 years I can tell you this year represented a turning point in which advanced security technology transformed from novelty to standard.
Throughout the convention hall, aisles and booths were packed shoulder-to-shoulder with ardent attendees. I practically needed a battering ram to transverse the floor. These installing and monitoring contractors seemed hell-bent on expanding their business into recurring revenue opportunities such as commercial managed access control and remote video, and enhanced residential services. The show’s buzz was akin to the din of a chainsaw.
And when I talk high-tech here it is not merely about IP cameras and NVRs. It is about megapixel and thermal image cameras that are priced right; powerful network infrastructure devices designed specifically for the rigors of security; comprehensive yet user-friendly video management software (VMS) and physical security information management (PSIM) systems; and consumer-like mobile device apps.
I have saved two of the most amazing, futuristic technologies for last: biometrics and video analytics. While they have often captured the fancy of film and TV producers, they have been undermined by cost, unreliability and misapplication. I am here to tell you, security sci-fi has finally become fact.
Lumidigm’s Bill Spence showed me how the company’s multispectral imaging technology scans fingers beneath the surface of the skin to authenticate identities quickly, accurately and regardless of environmental conditions. Stanley CSS’ Tony Byerly walked me through technology partner Hoyos’ iris-scanning solution. It is also fast, reliable and suitable for most environments. Plus it’s noninvasive and even reads through glasses.
As for video analytics, I moderated a seminar with Zvika Ashani of Agent Vi, Bob Cutting of ObjectVideo, Amit Gavish of Briefcam and Malay Kundu of StopLift Checkout Vision Systems. They shared compelling videos depicting real-world applications, and practical tips to specify and deploy analytics that satisfy end users’ organizational objectives.
That last point is critical. In this new high-tech age we must never lose sight of providing security within the context of total business and lifestyle solutions. The future of security is here. Seize it with fervor because as it has been said: If you don’t like change, you’ll probably hate extinction.