If you are a fan of technology, it is a pretty nice time to be in this industry. With that in mind, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball for 2014 and prognosticate where security technology is headed in 2014. We are in the middle of several well-known and irreversible technology trends, and here are the areas I will be watching:
Video Analytics: We are only scratching the surface of creating usable video data. Today, analytics is used mainly to send an alert for the purpose of capturing someone’s attention or triggering a recording. As we are on the threshold of usable “Big Data,” video analytics will begin to make a major contribution in the ability to search and the correlation of stored video files. Additionally, geo-registration has enabled coordination of cameras, better map displays, and asset and people tracking. The geo-registration of individual video pixels has the promise of greatly improving the tracking capability of video surveillance, particularly when coupled with analytics.
Access Control: I noted at ASIS 2013 the increasing number of standalone IP door controllers, equipped with capabilities such as PoE, diagnostics, active directory integration and cloud-based supervision. As the industry continues to migrate to service-based offerings, there is a real appeal to lightweight, flexible, and easily deployable hardware which supports that model.
Network Supervision: Convergence is happening and IT is getting more engaged in security; so, if they can monitor network devices, why not security devices using similar tools? The technology — called SNMP — exists and the security industry will be expected to provide the management capability that it offers. Incidentally, there may be a service play here, too.
The Cloud: In my last column, I noted the impact of the cloud in both the commercial and residential sectors. Cloud services will grow as a significant revenue and profit generator to those integrators and dealers who pursue them. This may well help underlie a rise of those companies that embrace the higher-margin service model (as the IT industry has done); while those who furnish and install the security hardware see declining margins.
IT Security: Cyber is a hot topic in security circles, but we don’t hear much about it from electronic security manufacturers. Is that because they don’t support it or don’t care; or because they do support it and customers either take it for granted or don’t care? It’s probably some of each. I expect the offerings and messaging to the industry will change as customers (think more IT) elevate this in priority.
Video Storage: Have you checked prices of SDXC cards lately? 64 GB for under $35, 128 GB for $120, and 256 GB for $500. I believe that properly equipped IP cameras are on their way to becoming the next generation NVRs.
Wired Infrastructure: There’s a ton of coaxial and non-Cat 5e/6 wiring (RS-485, power wiring, etc.) installed, with much of it still used to connect legacy devices. Vendor offerings are proliferating to provide Ethernet and PoE (transport and injection) to reclaim that wiring for the cause of IP; in fact, I recently saw a product offered by TKH that builds an SFP port into an IP camera, offering immediate options for Cat5e/6, fiber optics, and built in conversion to coax. Very distributor and craft friendly.
Biometrics: Eyes, face, hand, finger — all will continue to be integrated into physical and logical access devices. At ISC East, Farpointe Data displayed a proximity card (early 2014 intro) requiring a finger on the card, comparing the imprint with a previously registered fingerprint on that card.
Situational Awareness: Lower cost, very capable PSIM (or variant) systems have been introduced and their third party integrations, usefulness, usability and cloud capabilities increase. The promise of a holistic information environment is a compelling security and business value proposition.