Security technology trends to watch in 2014

Jan. 2, 2014
Industry experts discuss what lies ahead for physical security devices and software

The dawn of a new year promises to bring a bevy of new products and innovations to the physical security industry. End users continue to migrate away from legacy security systems towards technologies that enable them to be more proactive in mitigating their risks. Last year’s investigation into the bombing at the Boston Marathon showed the potential waiting to be unlocked in using big data analytics to comb through troves of video evidence. The ability to remotely access and control security systems from mobile devices also continues to rise in prominence. SIW recently reached out to industry experts across several product categories to get their take on what 2014 holds for security technology.

Video Surveillance

Predictions by Fredrik Nilsson, general manager, Axis Communications:

1. Security goes all IP, beyond just video. IHS Research predicts that 2014 is the year IP video revenues finally surpass analog. This technology shift has been inevitable because end-customers and integrators alike enjoy much better functionality, scalability, and total cost of ownership while having the option to choose the best-in-class technologies that are right for their specific application. These are the exact same reasons we’ll see more systems shifting to open IP technology, especially access control. Not only will this afford much more flexibility in the solutions they use, but also finally deliver on IP’s promise of true system integration between video, access control, intrusion detection, alarms and the like.

2. Technology makes IP in small systems a reality. While IHS predicts 2014 is the revenue tipping point for IP over analog, in the same August article, Principal Analyst Jon Cropley said that less than 20 percent of the cameras shipped in 2012 were network cameras. Nearly three-quarters of new cameras installed remain analog. In an all-digital world, it’s a stat that would shock many outside of the security industry. But we know that a major reason for analog CCTV’s continued life is the small and mid-sized systems market.

IP is essentially the de facto choice today for systems of 32 cameras or more because of all the benefits that digital technology brings. Systems between 17 and 32 cameras have been shifting to IP technology thanks to continued price decreases, ease-of-use and ease-of-install. However the 16-camera-or-less market has been dominated by analog because of perceived barriers of cost and complexity.

The good news is that edge-based technology – such as in-camera SD card storage and/or NAS devices – eliminate the need for the most expensive part of an analog system, the DVR. This makes going IP a cost-conscious move for small systems. For those analog users who still have life in their analog cameras, they can leverage video encoders with the same embedded edge storage capabilities and intuitive software to bring their systems to IP. And with hosted video adoption continuing to rise each year as more and more integrators understand when leveraging the cloud makes sense for their customer, the small system market is ripe for converting to IP in 2014.

3. New life for old infrastructure with bridge technologies. The shift to IP video is a forgone conclusion. However, not all customers are ready to make the leap to all IP – especially if they are currently using adequate analog CCTV systems. Yet these customers will soon face a mid-life crisis with their DVRs.

While the lifespan of a typical analog camera is eight years or more, it’s not uncommon for the DVR to fail in half that time. This is the mid-life crisis of the DVR – and it presents a great opportunity to use IP technologies and establish a migration plan. Instead of replacing the failed DVR with a new one, more users will turn to technologies that can bridge the gap to IP, such as video encoders and coax-to-Ethernet converters. These devices range from single port to multi-port blade solutions.

Powerful video encoder solutions today start at just $80 per channel. We expect that more and more end users will be prepared to work with their integrator partners to build these migration strategies that provide some of the benefits of IP today while preparing for when their analog cameras fail or they have the budget to upgrade to network cameras – and the vastly improved image quality, usability and intelligence they bring.

4. Moore’s Law lives on as vision gets even better. In the last two years, we’ve seen dramatic imaging improvements in IP cameras thanks to the predictable innovation curve known as Moore's Law. IP cameras can see color in near darkness without supplemental lighting and through both blinding light and into dark shadows thanks to improved Wide Dynamic Range technologies. They also continue to deliver entertainment-quality video (HDTV and better) across all different form factors – from PTZ domes to covert pinhole cameras. These imaging innovations that were first launched in high-end surveillance cameras will continue to move downstream in 2014 and become more affordable for all installations as the technologies have become more established. We have Moore’s Law to thank for that. 

5. Spotlight on cybersecurity as IT involvement continues to grow. Toward the end of 2013, Axis put the finishing touches on a research project that examined the involvement of IT professionals in their company’s video surveillance initiatives. The research, which was conducted by the Enterprise Strategy Group, showed that 91 percent of IT pros surveyed claimed they are involved in surveillance to some degree. It’s clear that their influence on surveillance projects is growing, specifically at mid- and enterprise-sized organizations, and common IT best practices like cloud storage replication and using data for business intelligence are impacting surveillance projects.

As IT becomes more involved, the topic of logical security will grow. With cyberattacks garnering more and more attention across the globe, integrators will be tasked to prove that their IP-based surveillance systems will meet IT’s security criteria, as well as their bandwidth, resiliency and quality parameters. In 2014, it will be important for integrators and physical security practitioners to understand IT’s concerns and help them overcome any hesitation through proper network optimization and cyber security measures. The good news is that today’s professional IP video devices can be optimized to limit bandwidth disruption and come with the same exact IT security protocols as any other node they would put on their network. 

Access Control    

Predictions from John Fenske, vice president of product marketing identity and access management, HID Global:       

1. Increase in demand for more secure, open and adaptable solutions. As the security landscape continues to evolve in new and complex ways, progressive organizations and thought leaders are adopting a new attitude about change, and viewing it as an opportunity for improvement and value rather than an interruption or distraction. 

Proactively making changes today will ensure that an organization’s access control solution can adapt to future threats and take advantage of opportunities and applications beyond access control.  Future high-value applications might range from cashless vending, time and attendance, and secure print management to secure network logon as part of a fully interoperable, multi-layered security solution across company systems and facilities.  By using solutions that are based on industry standards such as OSDP bidirectional communications, and incorporating dynamic rather than static technologies, security becomes independent of hardware and media, and the infrastructure can more easily evolve beyond current abilities with the adaptability to combat continuously changing threats.    

The industry is still evolving, however, as not everyone shares this attitude.  In a survey of integrators and users, HID Global found that less than 50 percent have upgraded their systems in the last year, and more than half have not upgraded in the past three years.  Respondents were given a list of top technology best practices, and while 75 percent felt they were important or very important, half felt they were not implementing them well or at all.  Similarly, 93 percent agreed that a list of top policy best practices were important or very important, but nearly 40 percent said they were not implementing them well or very well.  We expect these numbers to shift as strategies for change become better understood and the industry embraces the opportunities that change can bring.

2. Mobile access control will continue to roll out in stages. During 2014, we expect to see the first phases of mobile access deployments in which smartphones will function similar to that of a card transaction today, with limitations due to technology and business ecosystems.  In subsequent phases, the phone’s onboard computing power and multimedia capabilities will be leveraged to overcome limitations and provide a more functional and rich user experience. Looking forward, the connectivity of smartphones will be used to perform most tasks that today are jointly executed by card readers and servers or panels in traditional access control systems.  This includes verifying identity with rules such as whether the access request is within a permitted time and, using the phone’s GPS capability, whether the person is actually in the vicinity of the door.  The user can then be validated using a cloud application and granted access via a trusted message over secure communication to the door.

In this new paradigm, mobile devices (rather than an access control system) make the access decisions, and doors (rather than cards) present their identity. This role reversal, sometimes called duality, changes how access control solutions are offered.  Organizations will be less dependent on the expensive infrastructure required for connecting servers, panels and readers – just electronic locks that respond to a mobile device’s encrypted “open” command. This simplified and more economical model with enable the industry to secure more assets; interior doors, filing cabinets, storage units and other areas that have been prohibitively expensive or complex to secure in the past.

3. Continued migration of intelligence to the door. Physical security and access control solutions continue moving to IP-based architectures that are easier to deploy and maintain. In addition, a standards-based IP architecture facilitates the integration of a physical access control system (PACS) with other systems that can share the same network.  A major benefit of this approach is the ability to move intelligence to the door, which streamlines system monitoring, management and reporting via standard web browsers.  By migrating to true open architecture IP-based intelligent controllers, users also can simplify future infrastructure enhancements and modifications since they can invest in hardware platforms that are not tied to proprietary protocols and software. 

IP-based access control is moving beyond host-controller communications to include controller–module and controller-reader communications as well.  Additionally, we will see a move to untethered connectivity in this networked access control environment.  Wireless intelligent locksets are the first step, and will become more prevalent as new, lower-cost, energy-efficient models are introduced to the market.  Mobile access control using smartphones is also on its way, which will leverage these devices’ wireless connection to act as both the key and processor, and become the rules engine for making access control decisions.  It will be possible to build and deploy readers (and locks) without any significant intelligence or connectivity capabilities and, because of the interoperability benefits of open-architecture IP-based intelligent controllers, users will have a broad range of controller and reader platforms to choose from, including basic readers and wireless intelligent readers that provide access to multiple credential technologies.

4. Visitor management systems to move beyond traditional applications. Visitor management systems are now widely adopted in the corporate environment, and they are increasingly spreading to other institutions, agencies and campuses. For instance, in the hospital environment, paper systems are being replaced with registration systems that are capable of screening, badging and tracking all visitors or, at a minimum, critical areas such as pediatric wards, as well as “after hours” periods when staff is reduced. These visitor management systems include key features such as support for the HL7 interface control so visitors can be matched to a variety of key real-time information about patient status and room numbers, ensuring no visitor is ever sent to the wrong patient room. 

Another example is federal agencies, which are migrating to systems that can quickly process visitor access while ensuring that all security procedures and policies are followed in accordance with HSPD-12. These systems read and process PIV cards in support of HSPD-12, and also can scan and process TWIC cards using OCR scanning, as well as Common Access Cards (CACs) using 2D bar code scanning.  The most effective systems feature simple-to-deploy middleware software that seamlessly integrates with the PACS and validates PIV credentials, which enables agencies to use PIV card data to better manage crossover visits from other agency employees. 

Video Management Systems

Predications from Gadi Piran, president, OnSSI:

1. Mobility. While mobility became a primary consideration for solutions initiatives in 2013, in 2014 it will become an absolute necessity. Communication via mobile devices has grown to the point where we rely on it for many elements of daily life, both at home and for business. For video surveillance, mobility means remote access to images from any smartphone or tablet, with the ability to control the system remotely as well. In 2014, users will demand better delivery via mobile, with multiple streams over low bandwidth – a solution we are now offering with Ocularis. We have to give users the technology to move out of the control room and into the field without sacrificing functionality – this is what the current population of technology consumers expects in every area of life and of business, and providers who do not make this utility possible will find themselves left behind.

2. Simplicity/Cost. Costs will continue to come down while VMS system user interfaces will become more intuitive and easy to use. These trends will gain momentum as 64 bit technology penetration expands, enabling more efficient utilization of the system and faster response times, even when streaming megapixel cameras.

3. Hybrid solutions. As long as there are still analog cameras in the field, there will be a need for hybrid systems to incorporate them on the network and to enable easier, more cost-efficient migration to IP. A new breed of integrated appliances now coming to market are providing best-in-breed turnkey video surveillance management and recording solutions that are suited to a wide range of applications. These plug-and-play devices will make it easier for the next generation of adopters to incorporate video management systems into their security and risk management programs, with the added bonus of simplified migration from analog to IP functionality.

4. Integration of manufacturer partners. Open-architecture technologies will enable continued close collaboration between providers, further expanding the functionality of video surveillance solutions.

Home Security Systems

Predictions from John Knox, president of the Electronic Security Association:

1. The continuing development of do-it-yourself wireless systems. It’s still early in the development of these devices, but thermostats and light bulbs are just the beginning. We’re going to see continued emergence of DIY for home security, video surveillance, smoke and carbon monoxide detection, and other home functions. This is going to challenge traditional companies to keep up with technology, but it’s also going to present customers with a choice. Do they want to get the newest technology at a higher price and deal with installing, maintaining and securing it themselves? Will they want to leave it to professionals with a track record of quality installation and customer support? Or will they sit back awhile and wait for prices to come down before finally deciding which road they want to take? Consumers also are going to have to decide how sophisticated they really want their homes to be. Not every consumer is going to want to pay top dollar for a talking smoke alarm. A large number will be satisfied with effective safety and security that doesn’t cost a fortune, and is easy to monitor and maintain.

2. Home automation. Home automation definitely offers the greatest opportunity for growth, and it also gives us a chance to expand the market for home security. We need to educate consumers that using the latest technology to protect their property and their families is more important than having a lamp that you can turn on with your phone. If they can afford both, that’s fine, but we need to help them understand that safety and security are bigger priorities than bells and whistles. And with the sunset of POTS lines and 2G technology, there are huge opportunities for upgrading existing systems.

Intrusion Detection

Predictions from Tim Myers, product line director, intrusion, Tyco Security Products:

1. The popularity of interactive services/interactive-enabled hardware will continue to rise. With the help of the smartphone, consumers are becoming accustomed to having remote, on-demand access and control of many different elements of their lifestyle on their smartphone. With Internet-enabled devices such as an intrusion alarm system as part of the connected home,  homeowners are able to control and receive information from other systems such as energy management and lighting, as well as have access to other security devices like wireless locks and residential camera systems.

2. Increasing acceptance of wireless intrusion technology in commercial applications. More sophisticated wireless offerings available on the market today provide more secure transmission methods, increased range and reduced battery consumption, making wireless security systems significantly more attractive for commercial applications. Featuring sophisticated 128-bit AES encryption, these systems prevent the wireless signal from being “sniffed” or hacked, so the signal cannot be overtaken through the air. More robust protection against signal interference, along with increased range, offers improved noise immunity from interference from other appliances or systems while improved range means increased distances between panel and sensor without the use of repeaters. Hybrid systems, which make use of both hardwired and wireless peripherals along with a full range of cellular and IP communications technologies, will also continue to be a driving force in the market as wireless systems ramp up in popularity.

3. Increase in alarm verification technologies/requirements for false alarm reduction. Budget strapped municipalities won’t be loosening requirements for alarm verification anytime soon, so the industry has responded with a few different solutions. Along with increasingly sophisticated sensor hardware, these verification methods are helping to mitigate the false alarm challenge. Visual verification occurs when an alarm signal activates a camera with built-in motion detection. The camera records a video clip and sends it to the monitoring center or law enforcement for action.  

Audio verification methods, such as two-way audio, allow the monitoring center to speak to the person on the other end, as well as hear what is going on. Another, newer type of audio verification is constantly recorded audio, which captures the 15 seconds before an alarm was generated and the 10 seconds after the alarm for increased about the incident.

Sequential detection is programmed into the alarm system, telling it how to respond to certain behaviors. The system itself can verify an alarm if more than one zone on a premise has been disturbed. For example, it will trigger an alarm if the front door is opened and a motion detector is tripped a few seconds later.

4. The industry is shifting to more reliable, sophisticated communication protocols. In an industry still grappling with decline of the traditional POTS system for alarm communications, the pending sunset of the 2G cellular spectrum means another shift in technology. At the same time, communications via IP and GPRS are gaining traction and reliability and will continue to lead the way as the industry analyzes how large of a leap to make — to 4G or straight to LTE — on the cellular side.

5. A growing appetite for localized touchscreens and applications. With consumers growing accustomed to the clean, user friendly interfaces on a number of devices, expectations for these same intuitive, touchscreen interfaces are also now prevalent with residential security technology. Together with mobile applications that provide anywhere, anytime accessibility, touchscreens are also becoming a modern, aesthetically pleasing addition to the residential security landscape that provides users local access to their devices.