Security Integration: Ground Floor Changes

The information technology capabilities of security systems have grown tremendously over the past decade, resulting in both intelligent devices and intelligent systems. Emerging technology has taken intelligence to a new level with systems that run on top...


The processor chip in an intelligent device uses a combination of stored data and real-time data from sensors to make device control decisions. The series of steps the processor uses to make these decisions is called an algorithm. An algorithm is commonly defined as a procedure or formula used to solve a problem. A device may have one or many algorithms.

In an intelligent device, algorithms take raw data and process it to produce actionable data. One characteristic of actionable data is its timeliness. Even if the data is correct, if it is not available in time to be effectively applied, it is not actionable.

Where Is the Intelligence?

In today's security systems, intelligence can be found at four levels:

• across systems

• within systems

• between systems

• in field devices

Table 1 describes the roles intelligence plays at each of these levels.

Table 1. Intelligence in security systems.

Across Systems

Intelligence provides new functionality not available in any individual system. This is an area of emerging technology that uses the information available from multiple systems to provide situational awareness; present data in context; automate security operations workflow and incident response based upon security policy; provide text-based and graphical reporting of a wide spectrum of local, regional and global security metrics; and provide automated incident reporting that assembles relevant data from multiple systems into a comprehensive incident report available in real time.

Within Systems

Intelligence provides advanced system functionality. For example, advanced video systems can track and display people or objects as they move from one video camera's field of view to another's.

Between Systems

Intelligence provides system interoperability. Hardware gateways (such as those for connecting access control/alarm monitoring systems and building controls or other systems) and middleware (software used to connect systems that “talk” different languages) fall into this category. While devices and software in this category meet the technical definition of intelligence, they are not always thought of as “intelligent” because there is very little or no real-time data analysis involved in their functionality. In many applications—but not always—data is simply passed through from one system to another.

Field Devices

Intelligence enhances the device's functionality, as in the earlier examples of the dual-technology door motion detector and the auto-focus, day-night camera.

It is not necessary to know the technology details underlying intelligent systems features in order to use them. However, it's a good idea to know the key concepts and related terminology involved, to keep from getting lost in literature or discussions that touch on the technical side of things.

Advanced Systems Intelligence: Analytics

In plain English, analytics is the use of computer processing to make sense out of a bunch of raw data. For example, speech analytics can be used to identify a specific speaker (voice identification), or to identify the words spoken (voice recognition). Business analytics provides information to support decisions and planning. A bank would use business analytics to balance its loan-making practices in terms of risk and profit, analyzing types of borrowers, types of loans and size of loans.

Security analytics is any type of analytics used to provide actionable data to support security decisions, security planning or a response to a situation or incident. It includes business-type analytics (such as supporting security metrics for management purposes), but it is more commonly associated with specific technology, as in the case of video analytics.

Analytic techniques strive to duplicate humans' ability to think and reason in imprecise, non-quantitative terms. It is this ability—often referred to as fuzzy logic—that allows us to decipher sloppy handwriting or make decisions based upon the complex factors in a tricky situation.

Analytic Methods

Systems with security analytics use some or all of the following methods, often mentioned in product literature, to process data to obtain actionable information:

• data filtration