Why Big Data Is a Big Deal For Security Systems Integrators

Security systems integrators can capitalize on today’s networked video solutions to collect important information and arm customers with intelligence that translate into greater organizational efficiencies, actionable responses and increased profitability.

Why Big Data Is a Big Deal For Security Systems Integrators

Today’s ultra-sophisticated electronic security solutions including networked video surveillance in particular, are instrumental in managing, deterring, responding to and investigating incidents. It’s also a data collection system of the highest order.

Analytics can enhance real-time situational awareness and provide important investigative visual evidence, but integrators must be well-versed in working with customers’ IT departments.

Video information, or data, can be saved and combined, then sliced and diced in almost any conceivable way using new advanced analytics. The intelligence it delivers can bolster just about any organization’s management, efficiencies and, if applicable, profitability.

Several vertical markets are leading this Big Data curve, which can carry progressive systems integrators to previously untouched sources of revenue. SSI tapped into the expertise of several leading manufacturers for insights on the current demand, capabilities and challenges of video data collection and analytics.

All agree it’s a hot ticket right now. Read on to surveil the state of the video analytics landscape, including how to better work with manufacturer partners and end users, plus a brief market-by-market applications assessment.

Putting Information to Good Use

“No question. We’re seeing a very high demand for this,” notes Hank Monaco, vice president, marketing at Johnson Controls (JCI) Building Solutions North America. “There’s a requirement to do more with less and better leverage the customer’s investment. It’s being facilitated by great technology advancements in hardware and software, and leveraging of the Cloud.”

It’s important, however, to take advantage of the equipment capabilities and go beyond merely collecting the data, he adds. “The question is, how do we not only collect it but also put it into usable formats so the end user can take that data and improve business practices?”

That’s particularly notable when it comes to video surveillance, as Willem Ryan, vice president, global marketing and communications for Avigilon, explains.

“The vast majority of recorded video data is never viewed. There are more cameras at higher resolutions recording video than ever before, but if it’s not viewed, useful information is missed,” he says. “There’s an imbalance between the amount of video data collected and the human attention available to effectively mine that data. As such, the demand for video analytics is increasing globally.”

Jim Lantrip, ADT’s vice president of enterprise solutions, concurs that as the technology matures and becomes more reliable, analytics is becoming a more viable option for many applications that used to rely solely on human intervention. He says the adoption of IP technology and advancements in network capabilities have also facilitated Big Data’s acceleration.

“Video is a data-rich product. If we have the right analytics, we can glean much more data than we realize,” Lantrip says. Some of the most notable capabilities in video collection being brought to market involve the initial developments in tracking metadata from video and all sensors; in effect getting ready to address the onslaught of IoT, according to Reinier Tuinzing, strategic alliances manager – Americas, Milestone Systems.

“What’s also happening is the refinement of video analytics and the onset of deep learning, cognitive learning and artificial intelligence [AI] attributes, as they are starting to be applied to video systems and devices,” he says.

Search and motion detection capabilities can alert video operators to unusual activities or track whereabouts of certain individuals or personnel.

Hot Verticals Validate Opportunities

There’s a high level of interest and tremendous buzz about deep learning and new capabilities that some of these technologies can provide, adds Alex Johnson, senior director, analytics and strategy, Verint.

“Analytics has been capable for many years, but ultimately it all relates back to solving a problem for the customer,” he says. “In the retail space, the challenge is to increase revenue. How can retailers use video analytics to do that? With an underlying architecture, or technology for loss prevention.”

Deep learning technology — the actual underlying math behind it — is not new, he adds. It’s been around for 20 years or so, but what’s changed recently is the actual processing power to run more complex algorithms for greater end-user benefit, Johnson explains.

VMS dashboards tied into surveillance cameras can provide useful information regarding trends such as people counting and traffic flow.

“The technology is coming in to solve the problems that analytics already do, but the technologies we see now may allow more accuracy and flexibility of camera positioning and lighting. It gives organizations crucial insights and enables them to anticipate, respond, and take action.”

The use of video data collection services for applications such as people counting, dwell times and determining traffic patterns primarily in the retail, financial or food service industries continues to grow as the technology continues to improve and involve, says Lantrip.

“Video data collection services help deliver actionable data for a wide range of stakeholders including operations, merchandising, security and human resources,” he says.

Another application he notes is the transportation industry’s implementation of red light cameras and automated toll collection on many highways. Restaurants and retailers are looking to improve throughput and compliance with standardized practices and procedures, and to reduce shrinkage, reports Monaco.

Video can be used to count people, trigger real-time alerts and be used forensically for an investigative purpose, for example. For a campus or critical infrastructure end user, Monaco adds, the goal may be to leverage data for improved perimeter protection and enlist technology to aid areas they may not have investment available for more manpower or operational practices.

What’s Important to Your Vertical Market?

Reinier Tuinzing, strategic alliances manager – Americas, Milestone Systems, offers a glance at how various verticals can implement video data collection systems/services.

Law Enforcement

Wants to see the GPS location combined with speed and acceleration of vehicles, whether windshield wipers are on or not, headlights — anything that gives them enhanced situational awareness for better response.


In-store information like people counting, flow and direction/turning right or left, heat maps as they go down the aisles and examine, put in cart or return items, queue control at the checkout, facial recognition of “rewards customers.”


Analysis of the access control for all doors to track which personnel are going where, also applying to vehicles if RFID is used. If there are 10,000 doors in an airport, it’s so valuable to be able to verify all the people coming and going and whether they should be there. This can be a function of both security and efficiency of operations.


Similar to airports, they’re looking for tracking personnel and 24/7 shifts, but also here it relates to safety of babies and Alzheimer’s patients with RFID tags/bands. This sector also has very expensive and dangerous equipment and supplies, like isotopes and radioactive elements for cancer centers. With analytics, they can track locations of incidents like theft for such equipment as well as pharmaceutical supplies.


Turnstile monitoring with analytics lets you visually count and trigger alerts on people jumping them.

Regardless of the market being served, the bottom line, Johnson believes, goes back to just that for many customers. “Profitability is an important consideration. Analytics have been viewed as a part of a security system and a risk mitigation. Ultimately it’s a cost, but if it stops fraud for a retailer, or improves security in a bank or airport, or a risk is mitigated, that enhances profitability. This makes analytics easier to sell because end users are looking for that.”

Integrators Scale Learning Curve

As the role of data collection and video analytics continues to expand, so does that of the integrator in interacting with the end user’s IT department to establish procedures for procuring and interpreting the data.

“When partners configure a VMS implementation for customers, they set up all the criteria for operation, maintenance, upgrades, access to the data,and triggers based on our rules engine for the data collection, etc. Partners have to get more IT centric and understand the IT management and maintenance practices that the IT sector has learned over the last several decades, and how to manage data and networks,” Tuinzing says.

“Interpretation will require the physical security business to learn how to extract data from the databases with programs such as Crystal Reports and Tibco. These systems slice and dice the Big Data into manageable information.”

For integrators to compete successfully in this arena, ADT’s Lantrip recommends they forge deep partnerships with manufacturers, not only traditional security manufacturers but also IT-focused manufacturers and service providers.

Verint’s Johnson says the most crucial component for integrators is to talk to their end users and truly understand their daily pain points.

“Their customers are so busy doing their own jobs that they don’t see all the solutions that manufacturers can offer,” he says. “The integrators bring a broad knowledge of the cross-section of capabilities that exist in the market, and it’s important to us from a partnership perspective to offer end users viable solutions. That’s what it’s all about — coming together to solve problems.”

It’s undeniable that the role of the systems integrator is expanding, notes JCI’s Monaco. “Gone are the days where it’s OK for an integrator to say, ‘Hey, I’m not an IT guy.’ Our integrator partners have become much more savvy and we’ve helped them get more savvy dealing with IT departments and their special requirements. They need to make sure their IT partners are comfortable if we’re on their network, know what the uptime is going to be, and how it’ll potentially impact other systems they have for other parts of their business,” he says.

These conversations must take place early so the integrator and partners can be engaged, provide ideas and work closely with customers’ IT department on what the systems roadmap looks like, Monaco says.

“We all need to have a comfort level and work together to best leverage their infrastructure and take advantage of the embedded infrastructure rather than operating in separate silos. The more we know their challenges, the better we can serve them,” he says. “We never want to come between them and their IT objectives, we want to enhance them. An integrator who’s smarter in that area is going to make better inroads with customers.”

To gain or improve upon those “smarts,” Verint’s Johnson recommends integrators attend trainings, read industry publications, and talk continuously with the manufacturers. Milestone’s Tuinzing adds that the data and analytics side of security integration is only getting started.

“Metcalfe’s Law indicates that the value of the network is exponentially proportional to the number of devices connected to it. And here comes Big Data with IoT, so fasten your seatbelts!”

Erin Harrington has 20+ years of editorial, marketing and PR experience within the security industry. Contact her at erinharrington1115@gmail.com.

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