Cloud of Recurring Revenues Awaits Security Dealers
Cloud-based systems are gaining market share. It’s among the leading technologies elevating access and video integrations to new plateaus.
Access control doesn’t stop at the door. Gaining entry to a secure building or area no longer simply depends on swiping a badge over an electronic panel or punching a code in many cases.
Manufacturers say open platforms, video and other integrations, and artificial intelligence can expand the capabilities of an access control system.
The access control market in the United States is expected to rise 10.7% from 2021 to 2026, reports Mordor Intelligence. This growth will be driven in part by urbanization, increased crime, and advancements in technology, which includes the use of Cloud video.
Sanjay Challa, chief product officer for surveillance management software provider Salient Systems, sees combining Cloud video services with access control as a growing trend. The most common use is video verification to determine whether the person using a badge to enter a location is the authorized user.
“There’s actually quite a bit of value in either video verification or forensic search to be able to quickly correlate an event with video,” Challa says.
Pairing access control with video is very important for the end customer, from the standpoint of user management and liability, etc.
“For the most part, access control systems should help lower ongoing keying expenses by being able to quickly manage schedules and turnover. In many cases, there is need for lockdown or video intercom to grant entry to only authorized persons,” says Jamie Vos, general manager of Bellingham, Wash.-based Security Solutions NW, an integrator that was acquired by Security 101 in March. “For video, the problems it solves are across the spectrum, but for the most part they are to relieve liability, either to document accidents, unwanted events and other challenging situations.”
The combination of access control and video offers peace of mind for the end user and acts as the control center for facilities.
“They solve employee safety, assist in SOCs compliance, allow employees to move globally through a company’s facility fluidly while still allowing controlled access to sensitive areas to protect the company’s intellectual property,” says Craig Jarrett, general manager of Netronix Integration, a Pavion Company headquartered in San Jose, Calif.
Leveraging the power of the Cloud, access control as a service (ACaaS) and video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) are increasingly being offered and deployed by security integrators that see them as both a path to growing steady recurring revenue streams and a means to better serve their clients. But as with all sensible solutions, it is not a one-size-fits-all scenario.
Thus, those providers that best understand all the permutations of on-premises, Cloud and hybrid integrations will be best equipped to meet the challenges of a given application.
Managing Systems From Anywhere
Cloud video platforms enable users to manage their surveillance systems and access cameras from anywhere. Video can be searched and often shared without having to be on premises.
“Using the Cloud, administrators can remotely manage devices, site location information, permissions and more alongside video security functionality that supports the proactive detection of threats and efficient investigations,” says Alex Kazerani, vice president of Cloud security and access control for Motorola Solutions.
The company recently introduced a new security suite that includes Cloud-native Avigilon Alta, which combines video security from Ava Security and access control solutions formerly known as Openpath.
Acre Security’s Feenics is another Cloud-based access control solution that offers remote accessibility. The company’s ACT365 product enables remote management of single or multiple locations.
“Leveraging a Cloud-based architecture, the system facilitates quick and effortless access to user data, enabling convenient updates to user permissions while on the move,” says Scot Sturges, Acre’s director of business development for North America and regional sales director for the Western U.S. The system includes smart cards, touchless readers, proximity fobs and mobile apps.
Says Security Solutions NW’s Vos, “With an ever-more mobile world that lives in complexity with cybersecurity, the Cloud gives customer the ability to manage their systems from anywhere while not exposing their networks.”
One of the company’s bank customers chose a fully Cloud-managed solution because its IT department didn’t want to be involved in the deployment and management of the system. The Cloud gave the institution the ability to manage the system remotely, update it frequently and have full functionality while protecting its network.
Brad McMullen, president of 3xLOGIC and PACOM, adds, “Marrying access with video provides more visibility and insight into keeping your business safe, secure and operating effectively.”
3xLOGIC has a range of video solutions, including on-premises, Cloud or a hybrid model. On the access side, it offers an on-premises and Cloud solution, which integrates into the company’s video platform. PACOM provides intrusion and access control solutions that can integrate into existing video management systems.
“These Cloud-based solutions are monthly or annual recurring revenue models. Because they are Cloud-based, the support, updates and maintenance can be done remotely instead of rolling a truck to every site,” McMullen says. “A Cloud solution gives you the capability to add new users and locations easily without having to make updates to devices on premises.”
Netronix has traditionally provided on-premises access control systems, but it is converting most of its customers to Cloud products because of the value they offer.
“Here in Silicon Valley, our customers are companies that everyone knows and usually will not allow us to talk about, but all value their access control and video systems to protect their employees and technology. Employees get a sense of personal comfort in knowing their employer is being proactive in their protection at work,” Jarrett says.
Modernizing Defenses Through Integrations
While the security challenges end users face may vary by company, industry or environment, integrated technologies are key to enhancing access control systems, manufacturers say.
The value to the end user is the strength of the partnership between the access control company and the video provider, says Ken Francis, president of Eagle Eye Networks. Eagle Eye has a “best-of-breed” business model with an open platform that has APIs with many integration partners.
Says Francis, “If I’m an access control user, why do I want to see a video of the door my access control badge is opening? The video enables the access control platform to capture a little 15-second clip. Now they can look at the video clip associated with Ken’s badge.”
Businesses need to modernize and improve upon their safety mechanisms and defenses to keep up with modern threats. Access control needs to tie into other safety mechanisms, not just at the access point itself. For example, if the security system detects a weapon, the door could automatically lock, essentially “pre-arming” the access control system by giving it information from video analytics.
“I see the future containing more and more of these types of integrations,” Salient’s Challa says. “The value is so compelling you’re a leg down not having that kind of integration. Any investigation takes you longer because you don’t have an easy way to tie in that information. It is hard to be proactive in locking down a site … a video system gives you much better coverage than just the front door someone’s trying to force open.”
Schools have been big adopters of access control systems with integrated video, as well as hospitals, and finance, he adds. Property management and critical infrastructure facilities like power plants and jails can benefit from such integrations. “There’s some areas you need to manage access, and you need more than just security at the door,” Challa says.
Says Acre’s Sturges, “We have customers looking to integrate access control solutions with IoT equipment at fitness centers, others integrating with dry cleaners to remotely manage their machines, and others are integrating our systems with smart buildings.”
Introduced late last year, Acre’s ACT Mobile Service has an open API that provides the building blocks to connect to any business system, including human resources, ticketing, parking, messaging, food services or other concierge services. It also offers the ability to broadcast mass notifications and initiate facility lock downs. Additionally, ACT Mobile’s Cloud-based Emergency Management Platform allows for real-time accounting of people in an emergency.
If a security system combines access control, video surveillance, intrusion or other systems from different parties, managing those components could be an administrative burden.
“Even if separate systems are ‘integrated,’ the customer still has to maintain and move among three different software applications,” says Brian Lohse, general manager of Alarm.com for Business. “By natively unifying the technologies together into one app, Alarm.com simplifies management enabling efficient workflows such as disarming the alarm, unlocking the door and adjusting the thermostat all with the tap of a single button.”
Alarm.com for Business is a Cloud-based property management platform that combines intrusion, access control, video surveillance, energy management and more. The company has recently expanded its third-party camera support and soon plans to release the Alarm.com Cell Connector for Access Control, which will enable the installation of access control using a cellular network rather than a wired connection.
Analytics and Artificial Intelligence
Manufacturers continue to add third-party integrations by companies that offer analytics and AI-driven technologies. “Our strategy isn’t to be an analytics solution. It is to integrate with what is out there, especially camera-based analytics,” says Salient’s Challa.
Video software providers have been updating their search and playback experiences, some of which are driven by demand for analytics. Salient Systems recently released an updated version of its video management software, CompleteView v7.3, which includes enhanced camera analytic event support.
“Users can easily configure and capture any event delivered over the ONVIF driver, regardless of recording type. The update also ensures the reliable capture and storage of all camera analytic events, the ability to set custom aliases for events, and includes a new ‘Event Search’ playback experience,” the company said in a press release. Future releases will add more analytics.
“A lot of the leading integrations we have on the video analytics side are AI-based and go beyond object class,” Challa says. “When you get into people counting and occupancy management, that starts to leverage AI capabilities.”
Instead of relying on a user to use a dropdown menu to filter results, for example, AI employs natural language processing and powerful search engines to match the input with relevant video.
Says Eagle Eye’s Francis, “In the future, [permission-based] facial recognition will show in real time that it wasn’t Ken who entered the door. If Ken owns the badge but Mary came through the door, it will send an alert to the security department of the end user.”
Today, there are many companies developing AI technologies with the potential to integrate into a security system.
“Some AI companies just originate technology. Others are selling their product to end users and trying to convince the end user that theirs is the best. The real race happening amongst hundreds of companies. There are going to be a few that survive,” Francis says. “We acquired one of these AI companies, Uncanny Vision, and tucked their products into our core platform across our 12 datacenters around the world.”
Eagle Eye’s platform also integrates with technology partners that help monitoring centers reduce false positives. Another of its AI integrations offers unattended lobby guarding. For example, if a resident of a retirement community enters the lobby, the camera would identify that they were authorized and trigger the elevator to automatically open. In such a case, the system would be using one-to-one matching logic for identification, and the resident would opt into the program.
In another example, an employee might pull into a parking garage where the video system would use license plate recognition to determine they are authorized and automatically raise the gate arm to allow them to pass. With more video platforms using natural language search technology, more specific descriptors can be used to find relevant clips.
“We are right on the precipice of moving the video surveillance market to ‘I want to see somebody with a black backpack’ and let the system find it for you,” Francis says.
Motorola Solutions’ video security cameras have built-in AI video and audio analytics, as well as data storage. Features include occupancy counting, heatmaps and smart searching of video footage. The company recently released the Video Intercom Reader Pro with video calling and AI-powered voice recognition that routes calls to smart access control readers.
It also has released the Avigilon Ava Flex camera with wireless capability and built-in sensors for temperature and humidity. “We also provide them with added value from the business insights that come from our solutions that incorporate smart analytics and advanced intelligence,” Kazerani states.
3xLOGIC, meanwhile, just announced its X-Series Edge Based Deep Learning Analytics cameras.
“These new cameras analyze movements and behaviors and use predictive analysis to track each object constantly. People, objects, and vehicle events can be filtered so that only important activations are acted upon. These are particularly effective in dense and complex scenes with applications in perimeter protection, person, object, and vehicle detection and notifications, as well as business intelligence use cases for advanced dwell time and people counting,” McMullen says.
We are going to see continued evolution of video analytics at the edge, which removes the need for recording devices on site, he adds.
VIGIL CLOUD now has integrated person and vehicle detection capabilities that can send a notification only when a person or vehicle is present, reducing false alarms. Other new features include multicamera and multiview functionality, as well as clip sharing.
PACOM has launched a Cloud-based solution that combines intrusion and access control.
Looking at What’s Next
Analytics and AI technologies will keep advancing, and access control and video surveillance systems will continue to multiply their capabilities through integrations.
“In the future, the access control market will likely emphasize advancements such as touchless access and biometrics to take access control systems to the next level,” says Acre’s Sturges. “These technologies are still being developed by innovators today, but over the course of the next few years, we’ll likely see an increase in interest surrounding touch-free access control technologies, as the COVID-19 pandemic was a major driving force behind this demand. Facial recognition software and biometrics are likely to be the industry’s leading answers to this recent interest in touchless access control solutions.”
Motorola Solutions expects to see greater mobile adoption, more advanced analytics and increased use of AI to proactively identify and respond to threats. “Integration with other third-party security cameras and access control systems or functionality will become more and more important as customers want to have a simple but comprehensive approach to their security management,” says Kazerani.
The future is about providing analytics beyond security. Says McMullen, “Imagine a scenario where analytics can alert an operator if workers aren’t wearing appropriate safety equipment onsite, exits are blocked in a building or for addressing crowd control; for instance, if an area is overcapacity, managing bottlenecks. Many of these possibilities are available now and will only get more and more sophisticated in the future.”
Sandra Hosking is a freelance writer and communication manager for a fintech firm; she has 10+ years covering high-tech industries.
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