How Big Data Can Change the Security Industry

Find out how advanced analytics can render operational intelligence to strengthen most any organization’s management, efficiencies and, if applicable, profitability.

The Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller “Minority Report” gave the world a good, hard look at a fully-integrated, cross-platform data technology that will one day be as common as AM/FM radio was in the distant past.

The 2002 movie itself involved pre-crime precognition, the purpose of which was to predict crimes beforehand by collecting and analyzing data from a vast array of sources.

This data was presented to Cruise’s character, Chief of PreCrime John Anderton, on a single surface upon which he could view and analyze relevant data at a glance.

The technology in the movie depicted an operating platform capable of managing high volume data many times more diverse and volumetric than what we’re accustomed to seeing today. And yet manufacturers such as AMAG Technology, Stanley Security and others are busy developing a similar data collection and management software product designed to do essentially the same thing, only at a reduced level.

Today we can provide security personnel, managers, owners and other stake-holders with a wide array of building intelligence presented in a variety of unique ways, so a single “pane of glass” – as depicted in “Minority Report” – can do it all.

In addition, today’s advanced integration platforms contain the means whereby an avalanche of data can be processed in a variety of ways, resulting in the anticipation or prediction of things to come.

No, not by using large vats filled with sensory-deprived human psychics, as was the case in Cruise’s futuristic movie, but rather by the inclusion of Big Data collected by Internet of Things (IoT) devices, along with traditional information sources.

“Today we use really strong algorithms to help determine the probability that something specific is going to happen. As better technology becomes more available and affordable, and more input comes from security professionals on really interesting use cases, we will have more insight into things like insider and outsider threats, automated determination of inherent risks, and better practices around deterring negative behavior,” says Kurt Takahashi, senior vice president of sales, AMAG.

“This can only happen when you are able to have a look at the trends, baselines and current behaviors, and determine risk factors in real time. For this to happen, it will rely heavily on combined data from logical, physical security and video systems – both in a historic and a current perspective.”

Retail is among several vertical markets leading this Big Data curve, which can carry progressive integrators to previously untapped sources of revenue. Of course, the Big Data discussion oftentimes revolves around video, but there are other key aspects of the growing trend.

Let’s take an up close look at how tomorrow’s technology is making its way into the marketplace. 

Expanding the Single ‘Pane of Glass’

big data

In “Minority Report,” the full-data integration technology can collect immense amounts of data from a virtually limitless number of parallel operating, disparate platforms. It can store all of that data faster and in less space than we can today, and Anderton’s ability to process and analyze that data is off the charts by many magnitudes when we compare it to what we have now.

Even so, advanced integration and data analytics is moving in the same direction as Anderton’s advanced technology. In fact, today’s advanced integrated security systems are designed to provide a similar view of all relevant data points, enabling security personnel to quickly scan and mentally understand highly involved, intricate and sophisticated building intelligence.

We know this, in part, is largely made possible because of a concept that involves an increase in quality and size of today’s ever-expanding single “pane of glass.”

This concept does not necessarily point to a wall-to-wall display technology that uses an expanded version of today’s Microsoft Pixel-Sense or surface technology, but rather the ability to provide more disparate sources of intelligence on a single display (screen) using innovative ways to present it, as well as new ways to suggest possible solutions and outcomes based on advancing analytics.

“We just released what we call Stanley Insights for access control. But the general vision for this product is a single pane of glass that companies will have in their operations center. The idea is they will go to this single pane of glass to get a 360° view of their operation as it relates to physical security,” says Dave Bhattacharjee, vice president for data analytics, Stanley Security.

“What this software does is aggregate data – different kinds of data, combining them to provide insights to the operator.”

Today’s advanced integration and analytic technology involves the use of Big Data, which includes IoT as well as most of today’s traditional sources of data. This incorporates, but is not limited to:

The idea behind a single pane of glass, although somewhat metaphoric, pertains to a software solution designed to leverage common, ordinary data points as well as myriad others – displaying or providing that information on a single, expanded interactive screen.

All of this information, using unique cataloging methods, including nontraditional data sources, can be leveraged to provide an extremely accurate view of a situation in real-time.

Add to this an ever-evolving means of data analysis and you have a product that will do more with less while controlling more, especially an organization’s operating costs. This approach is especially helpful when working at an enterprise level.

“The system will provide insights on a lot of things going on that the operators may not be aware of. For example, security alarms that slip through the cracks,” says Bhattacharjee. “Believe it or not, some of our [enterprise] customers have two million [false] alarms per month. Which alarms do they want to highlight? These insights will have things like sales. It will have information on insider threats. It will have information on cost of operations, and these are only a handful of the things that it can do.”

Big Data discussion oftentimes revolves around video, but there are other key aspects of the growing trend.

Through an expanded pane of glass, tomorrow’s law enforcement and security personnel will see with more clarity the most important aspects of what they do.

They can call up connected street cameras, access bank transactions, have the benefit of knowing operating temperatures of countless devices in a theater of operation, review private-sector video surveillance systems, access control, customer billings, grocery store receipts, membership lists, current and past arrest records, work histories, in addition to general security data records – all traditional forms of security and more.

This more is none other than the Big Data world we’re now entering into.

Nature of Big Data Vs. Traditional Data

Stanley’s Bhattacharjee says there are three things that distinguish Big Data and that of traditional security technologies. “The difference when we think about Big Data is that it’s unstructured data that will come to you from systems that have no specific field structure, including textual data. You have to know how to parse this data out,” he says.

Bhattacharjee refers to the four V’s when describing Big Data: “The first is a lack of structure, which we call variety. The seco
nd is velocity, where you get it at a faster pace than traditional forms of security data. For example, instead of getting it once a day, you might get it every hour or more. The third difference is volume, as in large amounts of it. When you get it, how and where do you store it? And the fourth is veracity, which is basically what you must do when you get it – as in how you convert and share it.”

IoT is one example of the kind of data that comprises Big Data. IoT appliances are purveyors of unstructured data, such as things like wireless temperature sensors of all shapes, sizes and functions.

Another example are LED lightbulbs that possess the ability to change color, dim and brighten, pick up audio conversations in close proximity, report local temperature, detect motion and more.

There also are IoT temperature sensors as part of computer room and general office climate control; refrigeration controls, which can include inventory control and temperature tracking; as well as sensors to monitor automated conveyor lines, special processing in manufacturing, among numerous others. Certainly more than any of us could possibly imagine – and we’re now only beginning to scratch the surface.

Trending: Integrated Data Processing Systems

“Minority Report” gave us a clear, in-depth look into the power of tomorrow’s highly advanced integrated data technology. But perhaps we’re not that far away from making a similar technology a reality in the near future.

A good portion of R&D is now focused on making this happen. Some manufacturers actually claim they already have a similar expanded data collection, analysis and expanded display platform that commercial and institutional concerns can use now, today, instead of waiting for it to emerge 50 years down the road.

Takahashi and Bhattacharjee, along with Rajeeve Kaul, vice president, analytics and transformation, G4S Secure Integration, were asked: On a scale of one to 10, where 10 is the height of system integration with Big Data, where is the industry?

“Probably at a one or two,” Kaul suggests. “The physical world is coming closer to the augmented virtual reality with advances in video systems, reduction in cost of sensors, advances in artificial intelligence. The next few years will be exciting as we can finally bring the promises of years of technology development to bear on the solutions we provide to our customers.”

POS System

Bhattacharjee gives it a one out of 10. He says his company has a similar integration solution already developed for retail stores that incorporates both IoT and video surveillance. It will take a point of sale (POS) system and it will pull a specific video stream and tie the two together when necessary.

“In our retail solution we’re looking for POS exceptions, such as when the cash drawer is open for an unreasonable period of time that doesn’t seem legitimate. Perhaps the cashier is stealing. So we record that [event] along with a video stream if one’s available to us – typically a video camera sitting above the cashier. So we pull the two together and sync it up. That exists on the retail side. On the physical security side, we anticipate adding video [to the software] in the next six months or so,” says Bhattacharjee.

Takahashi comments, “Probably around a five. I think this is a hot topic right now and some leading companies are just starting to make valuable progress in this arena. It has taken years to make the leap into a data-centric philosophy for many companies and as security and IT work more closely together, this technology will advance quickly.”

Takahashi points out that AMAG offers a relatively new line of advanced integration solutions called Symmetry CONNECT, which is a policy-based software platform that assists commercial businesses of almost any size to operate more efficiently by mitigating risk, meeting compliance and reducing operating costs.

“The three business drivers that prompt businesses to take action and make changes are cost, risk and compliance. The Symmetry CONNECT identity management software platform helps organizations streamline manual processes to better operationalize their business and operate more efficiently,” says Takahashi.

Computer Science Holds the Secret Sauce

There is no doubt the secret sauce that will likely lead security to an all-time high is held firmly in the hands of computer scientists and IT.

Today’s IP cameras, many of which now are loaded with analytic software, are a natural fit with the advanced integration and analytic systems we now see emerging in the market. By using ever-increasing traditional network data storage, access and video surveillance can maintain its decentralized structure while providing a valuable and needed component to advanced integration and analytic operating platforms.

“I think this is a hot topic right now and some leading companies are just starting to make valuable progress in this arena.” – Kurt Takahashi of AMAG on system integration with Big Data

Also, through the use of Big Data integration and advanced digital storage and processing technologies, these platforms, along with the eventual introduction of artificial intelligence (AI), can greatly expand operator knowledge and efficiency.

Through the use of AI, these advanced platforms also will be capable of quickly appraising parallel situations, presenting operators with actionable analysis including suggestions on what and when to act. Most of us intuitively know and have accepted the fact that the day and age of analog technology and serial processing is over.

It’s been said more than once, “This is not our grandfather’s world,” but rather it’s a developing high-tech world where human intervention may one day be the exception and not the rule.

Bhattacharjee says he sees “predictive analytics” becoming a significant part of the intelligent building equation. There is no doubt the systems of tomorrow are under development today.

They will include advanced digital, high-volume data processing on the network’s edge while providing expanded data storage, data interpretation through AI technology, and an advanced surface display technology, similar to “Minority Report.”

For now, let’s sit back and enjoy the ride.

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About the Author


Al Colombo is a long-time trade journalist and professional in the security and life-safety markets. His work includes more than 40 years in security and life-safety as an installer, salesman, service tech, trade journalist, project manager,and an operations manager. You can contact Colombo through TpromoCom, a consultancy agency based in Canton, Ohio, by emailing [email protected], call 330-956-9003, visit www.Tpromo.Com.

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