Top Security Trends and Technological Advances of 2017

Advances in video surveillance, access control, systems integration and PSIM are just a few trends the security industry has seen in 2017.

Top Security Trends and Technological Advances of 2017

Every year, CS’ sister publication SSI takes the time to identify and review top trends and technology advancements in the area of video surveillance, access control and intrusion detection.

They do that by identifying top subject matter experts who work in the security market. In this article, SSI Staffers talk about several top trends and technological advancements that have taken place over the past 12 months and how they might ultimately affect security in the coming years.

For example, probably the most cited advancement of 2017 is that of deep machine learning, also known as Artificial Intelligence (AI). Whether it’s video surveillance, access control or intrusion detection, the insertion of AI into the equation holds great promise of big things in the years to come.

An Ever-Expanding AI Presence

AI can cut through the noise to derive an almost immediate answer to real-time situations. AI, in fact, is the only way that security can deal with Big Data, even mid-size quantities of data. Human capacity has its limitations,and that’s exactly why AI holds so much potential.

Kurt Takahashi, president of AMAG of Torrance, Calif., addresses the issue of AI from an information and situational management perspective, saying that security manufacturers have done a good job in terms of incorporating workflow.

Many of them also have incorporated other systems to assist with data collection. The problem is not the ability to collect information from multiple sources, but rather what will security do with all the information?

When there’s an incident, security personnel must facilitate informed, rapid solutions which lead to informed decisions that hopefully lead to good outcomes. A management system must be in place capable of processing information from multiple sources. It must do so at an extremely high rate of speed, rendering informed, safe, and actionable solutions.

Takahashi says, “Many of us like to use other technologies with the management system use. FST Biometrics America Inc. of New York City, N.Y., a good partner of ours, is on the cutting edge of facial recognition using AI. This makes it possible to give the clients an image of their lobby along with a full complement of information on who they should be interested in as well as those they should be concerned about.”

“The FST solution allows for turnstiles installation of high-resolution cameras that allow FST facial biometric to grant access or not simply by the facial analytics. The biometrics provides two colors, red and green, which form around every face,” says David Gonzalez, Security Solution Specialist & Product Specifier with Simplex Grinnell Inc., located in NYC. “The green color grants the person access and the red denies access. This Biometric technology lets security personnel set policies.”

The quality and overall capability of AI has increased considerably over the past year.

More Integration and a Trend Toward Platform Unification

If you will recall, some years ago a new methodology in systems integration was announced, called PSIM (Physical Security Information Management). Just as interest began to gain momentum, the glamour seemed to wear off.

“In the beginning, people began to shy away from the PSIM concept because of its relatively high cost. During 2017, however, I have seen a general trend back toward the use of a PSIM platform. This is primarily because of a recent reduction in cost,” says Gonzalez, a well-known futurist in physical security.

Gonzalez designs and manages high-security facilities where systems integration is crucial. “I’m currently working on a single-solution that will incorporate all verticals in security. It will recognize the presence of an intruder through motion, it will provide the approximate location of the intruder, the cameras in the facility will track the intruder, and the PSIM will send out a signal to the central monitoring station (CMS) with a set of rules for the operator to follow,” he says.

AMAG’s Takahashi as well as Gonzalez believe that significant advances have been made in the design and implementation of a “unified platform,” as opposed to traditional integration using PSIM.

A unified platform simply means that all facets of security, such as video surveillance, intrusion detection, access control, visitor management, possibly bi-directional intercom and others are handled by a single electronic system.

These systems can be located on site, but in many instances they utilize a highly-scalable, Cloud-based data processing and storage center. Video management system (VMS) technology has also made advancements in the integration of intrusion alarm data as part of its overall information management concept while using AI tech.

According to Jammy DeSousa, security products senior product manager with Johnson Controls International (JCI), “This also brings [intrusion] alarms and alerts within a security system into a secure VMS-based ecosystem. This is both a time and cost saver as it’s a proposition of set up once and deal with only one setup of [the] hardware.”

He believes that unifying systems in this manner will bring about cost savings because there are fewer computers to buy and maintain, less software in which to invest, a reduced number of service agreements and an overall drop in IT-related costs.

“There are also performance advantages, such as reducing false alarms through the use of video verification,” DeSousa says. “Benefits like these are driving demand for an easy-to-operate, unified system.”

Trends and Advancements in Video Surveillance

Probably the most impressive achievement in video surveillance technology has more to do with the incredible price drop that IP-based cameras have experienced during 2017. Quality, however, has apparently failed to keep pace with other types of security equipment over the same period.

“Video has been a two-market process. Consumers want CSI video quality for Costco prices, which in my opinion is an express train to the bottom. Most products are getting cheaper both in price and quality, and standards compatibility and interchangeability have not measurably improved,” says Ralph Wayne Sevinor, president of Wayne Alarm Systems Inc. of Lynn, Mass. “[For this reason,] we have established formalized services such as preventive checkups and welfare diagnostic reporting of the video platform to ensure continued quality operation.”

As to this year’s record drop in camera prices, Holley Hunt, global strategic account executive at JCI of the greater Los Angeles area, weighs in with what she believes will be the likely outcome.

“I believe it’s a race to the bottom of commoditization of the camera itself, with manufacturing becoming so global and inexpensive, the real value is in the AI and your brand,” she says. “Thus, camera companies are getting out of the business– Sony and Bosch, and then I just saw on the news that Arecont is suing a company from Singapore for pulling out of the deal to sell.”

The most logical direction for these popular brands is to work on the development of an AI- driven VMS’ upon which all other security silos will operate. Another technological advancement of note over the last 10 to 12 months, as presented by Simplex Grinnell’s David Gonzalez, involves the consolidation of video images into compact data that can be stored more easily and in less space, thus creating tremendous savings.

Gonzalez says there’s a company that can convert video images into data (ProActive CCTV of Farmington, N.Y.) where it compresses a video feed into real computer data.

“ProActive is able to compress video images. In a 32-camera system, all 32 channels can be compressed into 8TB of data storage space, thus allowing for up to three years of compressed data storage.”

The use of 8TB rendering three years of storage is absolutely unheard of, until now.

Intrusion Alarm Trends and Advancements

There’s both good and bad news where it comes to traditional intrusion detection. First, from a hardware standpoint, some professionals believe there’s more that should or could have been done to move traditional alarm technology forward during 2017.

Wayne Alarm’s Sevinor says, “Frankly, we have a significant concern that the limited number of manufacturers of intrusion products are not keeping up with technology or customer demands. New entrants have more consumer savvy products. I don’t know if they’re asleep or blind, however this is a concern. If they don’t increase their product lines, keeping up with technology, we’ll be looking at unconventional product channels.”

In response to Sevinor’s concerns, over the past year, access control manufacturers have worked to accommodate intrusion detection devices and report functions in their operating system.

AMAG’s Takahashi says “We have our own detection system built into our panel. However, the way I see it, it’s another silo in an estate. The question is, when those alarms come in, how much info do you have and what are you able to do with it?”

It’s more helpful when security is able to integrate alarm systems into an integrated platform (see JCI’s DeSousa’s comments in the video surveillance section) that’s capable of rapid analysis and communication with in-field security personnel, thus providing them with good, better and best actions to take in an effort to create an amiable, safe and secure resolution.

“At AMAG, we focus on the operational aspects, such as how to manage alarms. We provide a strong operational solution providing we have a myriad of data to work with at the center of our integrated system. By making room for intrusion detection we have added considerably to the overall body of information that’s now available to those who manage security in real time,” says Takahashi.

On the positive side, the industry has witnessed an upturn in the use of network technology to process, validate, manage and report alarms to proprietary and public central monitoring stations. Network technology allows advanced information management platforms to channel moment-by-moment information into an information management platform’s data flow, which is essential to security when an incident takes place.

This includes the continued development of system compatible Internet of Things (IoT) devices as well as most needed cybersecure protections required to secure connected networks from hack-attacks.

Trends and Advancements in Access Control

Probably one of the most important areas where we’ve seen a huge effort in forward motion is in the area of standardization. According to Mike Simon, managing partner of Connected Technologies of Crystal Lake, Ill., access control-related manufacturers and service providers have had to look for ways to distinguish themselves from other players in the security industry by creating value-added elements designed to catch the eye.

For example, Simon’s own company has eliminated the need for readers altogether. According to Simon, “Cloud computing has helped the industry. The smaller players are now able to compete with larger companies, offering unique services for very little money.”

The development of a Cloud-based offering designed to level the playing field is a significant development that not only adds to alarm dealer’s ability to provide benefits beyond the norm, but it also offers all concerned with an additional opportunity to earn a monthly residual in the process.

“The result of all this is manufacturers who have created value-added elements within their technologies provide a huge monetary incentive. They attract end users who end up buying them. Those dealers who use these value-added technologies/equipment enjoy it in many ways, other than financial,” says Simon.

“There also are dealers out there who use one panel for one thing, an entirely different panel for this other thing, so on and so forth. They have a handle on labor and equipment costs [to the point where they] know all too well that they need to focus on what they do best. Along with this realization comes a profound need to limit one’s self to one piece of equipment that fits their overall need, thus saving time and money.”

Hence, the single-panel philosophy presented by Takahashi, Gonzalez and DeSousa, centers on standardization. “Instead of conducting training and programming classes on several panels, they have one panel to worry about,” says Simon.

And this is exactly what some access control manufacturers have sought to do — create a single platform that uses the Cloud. Another trend in access is the development of a bi-direction communication standard that allows a central access control system to update cards, fobs and other access credentials when these devices are used.

With two-way communication at the reader, when there’s a change that occurs that requires an access card to undergo reprogramming, the host computer can update, upgrade, or erase the card’s internal firmware while it’s in use.

Another change, driven by the popularity of today’s mobile devices, is driving the industry toward the use of an effective bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program where it’s the user who decides what to use as an access credential. ‘Do I use my smartwatch or my tablet?’

“Access control is moving towards BYOD, open card structure and new consortiums changing the way encryption is handled. Also I believe access control is dying as we know it. Identity management is the future conversation,” says JCI’s Hunt.

Mobile devices and a variety of communication protocols, along with the Internet, is what’s driving the BYOD effort. This enables each user to apply a single, common credential, like a tablet, smartwatch or a smartphone to any number of physical access control systems as well as logical access setting.

“The industry can expect to see double-digit growth in mobile credential use, even though this type of credential won’t outpace traditional cards, fobs or other physical credential versions in the short term,” says Jason Ouellette, access control product manager with Johnson Controls. “Increasingly, mobile credentials have been integrated with various access control security systems during 2017 and the move toward industry standards should cement their use in the future. Likewise, mobile keys, which send a pulse to a door to open it, are a small, but growing segment driven by ongoing hardware changes.”

Many of the inherent challenges associated with the BYOD effort have been addressed over the past 12 months assuring its controlled use in the months and years to come. Although there are certainly more trends and technology advancements that we can discuss, those presented in the preceding pages represent some of the more notable.

This article originally ran in CS’ sister publication Security Sales & Integration.

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