Security Industry’s Top Tech Trend Takeaways of 2019

SSI checks in with a half-dozen security industry stakeholders to get their opinions on which technologies made the most impact in the marketplace during the year.

Security Industry’s Top Tech Trend Takeaways of 2019

With all the launches, refinements, hype, promotion and trade show exhibit dust having finally settled, an important question dealers and integrators would be eager to see answered is: Just what were the predominant security technologies introduced — or that showed the most innovation, progress and promise — during 2019?

To flesh out a broad understanding of that very question Security Sales & Integration checked in with representatives from several leading manufacturers and other stakeholders to ask what they perceive to be the most disruptive technologies to impact the industry over the course of the past 12 months.

Sharing their perspectives: Rob Lydic, vice president of the PACs OEM business at Allegion; Ryan Zatolokin, senior technologist, Axis Communications; Paul Garms, director of regional marketing – North America, Bosch Security and Safety Solutions; Andrew Elvish, vice president of marketing, Genetec; Tom Cook, senior vice president, sales Hanwha Techwin; and Joe Gittens, director of standards for the Security Industry Association (SIA).

Machine Learning Emerges & More

Video analytics and machine learning ranked high on the list of technologies to influence the industry in 2019. “Machine learning technology has pushed the boundaries of what is possible with video analytics,” Garms notes.

Garms explains machine learning — a small subset of artificial intelligence (AI) —enables video analytics to identify specific objects and situations defined by the user, making it function in evermore accurate and application-specific ways.

“By harnessing machine learning, IP cameras with built-in video analytics can be taught to recognize and detect stationary objects and deliver data when they are present and when they have been removed,” he continues. “This offers a distinct advantage over systems that trigger alarms based on movement alone.”Gittens cautions, “AI is still too often used as a buzzword. However, as we observed while evaluating entries for the 2019 SIA New Product Showcase earlier this year, security vendors are beginning to launch solutions that can not only use sensors to detect various environmental conditions and make accurate and predictive alerts, but also continue to train their algorithms while in the active environment.”

Packing sensors into devices and performing analytics is allowing machine learning to be used not only for facial or aggression detection, but also for acute use cases like detecting vapor or smoke and differentiating between someone smoking cigarettes and someone vaping tobacco, THC or other substances, Gittens adds. “These technologies are allowing organizations to obtain a return on investment on security through faster incident response and situational awareness, which helps contribute to a positive organizational culture,” he says.

These machine learning capabilities translate not only to improved security, but oftentimes allow for more efficient business operations as well. As Garms points out cameras equipped with machine learning abilities can recognize and detect a broad array of details.

Examples include when parking and loading bays are occupied or free; when a shopping cart has been taken into an unsecured area; if icicles are forming on the exterior of a building; how long a vehicle has been parked in a time-limited space; and even function as a traffic-counting system to optimize traffic flow.

End users are becoming increasingly sophisticated on the associated risks around cybersecurity and placing much stronger focus on hardening network infrastructure.

“These examples demonstrate the wide variety of applications in which machine learning provides informative data for uses beyond security,” Garms says. “As end users learn about the capabilities of machine learning, they’re asking how the technology can solve their specific pain points — even those that extend to challenges not typically considered within the security realm.”

Zatolokin also expresses a cautionary caveat to be mindful of, especially for installing security contractors who should be wary of overpromising capabilities of so-called “AI-enabled” security products and services: AI is being over-marketed by some manufacturers to the point of being fallacious.

“Yes, we’ll see benefits, but I think there’s way too much hype around AI at least in the video analytics space,” he contends. “It’s being used wisely in IT, but it’s got a way to go.”

Weighing in on 2019 technology standouts, Zatolokin says what he mainly saw were improvements to what’s already out there, including better processing power at the edge, better ability to reduce bandwidth and improved transport of video in general.

“A lot of people have put a lot more resources into that and users are getting more bang for their buck,” he says. Zatolokin also points to the growing mass of data collection made possible by security systems. “We not only have the ability to detect people using cameras, audio or radar, what is interesting is that we have a lot more sensors that we can gather information from,” he says. “That info can be fed into the VMS and used to gain more business intelligence and enhance overall security. It’s better than ever.”

Cook of Hanwha Techwin references the groundswell in cybersecurity awareness and how to combat network intrusions when asked about key 2019 takeaways. He notes that some companies are using encryption to check and verify security camera firmware to prevent these and other networked devices from being hacked.

“People are looking at cyber and putting in intuitive features to protect clients and give them that critical support. I think people are getting better at cyber and we’re seeing less hacks,” he says. One area that showed enormous promise was the implementation of blockchain for security applications, Elvish of Genetec says.

Blockchain is a system in which a record of cryptocurrency transactions, such as with bitcoin, are maintained across several computers linked in a peer-to-peer network. More simply stated a blockchain can be looked at and checked for evidence of what’s happened.

“Our large-scale global clients are looking for technologies that can make their security systems more reliable, less prone to tampering and more transparent and secure,” he says. “Blockchain is a nondestructive way to track interaction with digital files.”

Elvish explains further: “If someone, for example, opens a piece of recorded video and deletes it, it can show who made the changes because it’s a distributed ledger and every change is being shown leveraging a secure algorithm. It provides extraordinary technological evidence and records of interactions with security systems can be tracked.”

This is a huge milestone in terms of the way things can be made more transparent, Elvish continues. “Not many people are doing it yet as it is very complex and requires a lot of fundamental changes, but this will be a big turning point for the industry,” he says. “It can be a huge differentiator for integrators who can bring that value to their end users.”

Elvish points to another big trend that came to light in 2019: the proliferation and rising popularity of identity access. “Over the past year, we’ve put more focus on individual and validated identities within security systems, and moving away from binary access control cards. Now, we’re getting down to access control based on the individual’s identity, to grant access to specific places at specific times,” he says.

Other Notable Headways

While the technological advancements referenced above have been standouts for the industry, there are many other highlights to reflect upon. In 2019 there was much progress made on standardization and open platforms.

Garms of Bosch Security calls attention to the work of the Open Security & Safety Alliance (OSSA), as well as Security and Safety Things, which is launching a new Internet of Things (IoT) platform for security cameras based on OSSA standards.

“This open operating system platform will create new possibilities for our industry through apps developed by third parties that can run on any IP camera using the Security and Safety Things platform,” Garms says. “Integrators will be able to download ready-to-use AI-based apps for IP cameras, such as those for license plate recognition, queue management, intrusion management and much more that extend beyond security. As adoption and awareness increases, end users will expect integrators to offer more customized and connected solutions.”

Garms goes on to note the industry has also seen improvements in technology and product design that make systems easier to install, allowing dealers to service more customers in less time. New IP cameras, for example, were introduced that feature remote commissioning functionality to enable installers to position the camera to capture the required field of view without having to touch the camera or lens.

“This can be done from the ground, making the inconvenient task of repeatedly climbing ladders a thing of the past, and with less labor for each job. After the initial setup, technicians can also use remote commissioning to adjust the field of view if the user’s requirements change during the project,” Garms says. “For end users, faster installation means the installing security contractor is better able to meet their production schedules for new buildings or building or system upgrades. Wireless commissioning can also reduce their costs associated with lift rentals.”

Lydic of Allegion looks to the proliferation of mobile technology as one of the most significant trends to affect the industry this year. “In our space, our most poignant [use case] is the release of the mobile ecosystem in the education market. Students can now use their watches and phones to access places on campus, to buy lunch, do laundry, take out books, and bring more security and convenience to their overall student experience,” he says. “It’s insightful of what’s happening.”

allegion access control on school campus

One example of the proliferation of mobile technology is the use of phones and watches for access control credentials. The devices can also be used to make purchases, extending the overall user experience beyond security.

Rising Level of Sophistication

As technology continues to mature, so has the industry itself. As Elvish describes, “We’re seeing a real increase in sophistication within the security integration channel. Dealers and integrators are being asked to do more IT aspects, and get more about the business and less about physical security only. As we see things that are new powerful technologies like blockchain and identity access, end users are looking to them to be advisors and consultants. These technologies are really driving a level of sophistication more than we’ve seen in the past.”

Analytics are also climbing up the leader board in complexity. As Zatolokin points out, over time analytics have allowed us to track people and events in greater detail. For retail customers, for example, information can be used to gauge how successful marketing campaigns are in their stores, and how long people are staying in a certain aisle or department.

In terms of motion detection, new processing power at the edge can distinguish between an actual intruder and a harmless small animal, so as not to trigger a false alarm.

“There’s been incremental improvement that comes along with that improved processing power,” he states. In terms of cybersecurity, end users are becoming much more sophisticated on the associated risks and are putting a much stronger focus on confronting cybersecurity concerns.

“They’re asking questions they never had in the past, such as what devices are being connected to their networks and what are the risks inherent to those devices?” Elvish says. “Cybersecurity is now a shareholders’ concern, and CEOs are at risk of losing their jobs in the event of a serious security breach. They’re now asking for cyber liability insurance, and you can bet integrators won’t be deploying products that are suspect and subject to cyber breaches.”

Gittens offers some words of caution: “Unfortunately, cybersecurity and privacy concerns can surface as new technologies collect more and more data and are rushed to market without security and privacy in mind. Vendors with compelling security strategies can gain a competitive advantage.”

New Tech, New Challenges

With all the varied advancements the industry has experienced throughout the past year, dealers and integrators are faced with challenges to overcome. “It’s not simple to scale the learning curve,” Lydic says. “The traditional locksmiths are being challenged and needing to raise their competence in the technology and hire new personnel to augment their core business.”

Traditional security integrators that provide panel and server solutions must raise their games, as well as employ more IT personnel to deploy Cloud solutions, Lydic continues. They also must procure employees who have talent across technologies.

“So there are some challenges and they may have to change their existing business models so they can address the challenges of the next several years while still addressing the needs of today,” he says.

Erin Harrington has 20+ years of editorial, marketing and PR experience within the security industry.

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