Emerging Technologies From ADT’s Vantage Point

Last week I had the pleasure to participate in the 2009 ADT Media Summit, which this year was held in Dallas. As a lifelong Cowboys fan it was to my great lament that the trip did not include a game or even a glimpse of America’s Team’s fancy new $1.5 billion stadium. However, I was nevertheless delighted to be able to participate in this event for the first time since ADT began hosting them four years ago. This experience was enjoyable, enlightening and productive.
The two-day summit included an overview of ADT’s commercial business, a tour of the company’s Carrollton site including its demo room and IP technology lab, a number of presentations pertaining to specific markets such as municipal surveillance and petrochemical security, an end-user roundtable panel discussion, and an overview of emerging security technologies.
ADT Vice President, Commercial Sales, Jack Feingold opens up the fourth annual ADT Media Summit.

I will be covering the municipal video presentation and end-user forum in upcoming installments of Under Surveillance. What follows is a summary of ADT Vice President of Technology and Industry Relations Jay Hauhn’s presentation on how the industry’s largest installation and monitoring provider (worldwide: $7.6 billion in annual revenues from 7 million customers, 5 million of which are in North America and 1 million of which are commercial business) evaluates and brings new technologies to its customers.

Hauhn detailed ADT’s rigorous process of due diligence that includes, in order, identifying reputable manufacturers that can adequately support their products; carefully evaluating and testing those products; determining how the products will be marketed, distributed, priced, etc.; and then launching their rollout. The company also uses a formalized eight-phase process of “gates” to develop ideas and product/service offerings before bringing anything to market. “Our customers count on ADT to separate the hyped gizmos from legitimate products,” said Hauhn, who classified new technologies into truly emerging and emerging in security and/or not yet fully into the security mainstream.
Examples given for truly emerging included power harvesting; cellular 4G (aka LTE or long-term evolution); solid-state hard drives; IPv6; service-oriented architecture; and cloud computing.
John Hudson, a regional director of national accounts, explains the demo room at ADT’s Carrollton, Texas, location.

The leading methods for power harvesting are solar and inductive, which is created by movement. As these technologies develop, the potential implications and applications for wireless security devices are enormous. The next wave of impending cellular communications technology will facilitate download speeds of 100Mbps and upload of 50Mbps, which is lightning fast and will naturally open up all kinds of new security applications – particularly in the area of bandwidth-ravenous digital video. This trend also uses open protocols, which should hasten its ubiquity and usability.
Solid-state hard drives will allow security devices to utilize the same types of flash memory widespread in thumb drives and portable devices such as iPhones/iTouches. These drives do not have any moving parts and so there is nothing to suffer mechanical failure as is common with present hard drives. The big hurdles in advancing this technology have been low capacities, high cost and limited number of write cycles. Today, 128GB solid-state drives (up to 250GB is available) are common and prices have dropped to around $400. However, the limited number of write cycles is continuing to be addressed. Among other things, this technology is going to allow more memory and processing to be pushed out to edge devices (e.g. cameras) and lessen the load on network bandwidths.
Internet addressing is about to undergo a complete overhaul as the world transitions from IPv4 to IPv6. A few articles have already appeared in SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION explaining this migration. In short, when the Internet was first created it was done so with what seemed at the time such a large number of possible Internet addresses that the supply would never be an issue. That assumption proved to be way off the mark and the protocol grossly inadequate. Its shortcoming has resulted in the use of dynamic addressing that causes routers and networks to sometimes lose connectivity because their addresses need to shift. IPv6, although not infinite, will provide an incomprehensibly high number of addresses. In doing so, network communications (and security) will become far more reliable.
Jim Lantrip, regional director of sales and application support, has spearheaded ADT’s IP Lab in Carrollton, Texas.

According to Hauhn, the next wave of integration will involve service-oriented architecture (SoA). This technology will enable advanced data mining so security information can be sliced and diced in just about any conceivable fashion. SoA will lend itself to leveraging security system-generated data in ways that not only maximize the effectiveness and efficiency in and of itself but also throughout the entire business or organizational enterprise. The key to this approach is exception reporting — red-flagging occurrences or events outside the normal course of activity.

The final truly emerging technology area discussed was cloud computing. No, it’s not a new method of meteorology! Cloud computing is where a computer-based resource is provided over a network rather than residing locally on the PC or server. In this scenario, software solutions are provided as a service, hence the term software as a service (SaaS). This technology paves the way for lots of opportunities in the security industry, particularly in video surveillance and access control, for recurring revenue-based services, such as those offered by access control systems manufacturer Brivo.
Examples given for emerging in security and not yet adopted into the mainstream included IP-based systems; megapixel video; video analytics; wireless mesh networks; and mass notification.

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