Advancements in technology drive new security system models

March 4, 2015
How the 'Internet of Things' is ushering in a new era for the industry

A number of the newest technology buzzwords have made their way into the professional security industry vernacular – including some that address new paradigms of physical access and identity management. Terms like the “Internet of Things” and “predictive analysis” are becoming more common throughout the industry. However, these terms are still somewhat ambiguous with regard to how they specifically pertain to physical security solutions such as access control, surveillance, and even fire/safety systems. In fact, their emergence heralds a new era in security, with technology enabling us to create safer environments and bringing increased peace of mind.

The underlying principle is that virtually every component in today’s advanced network-based physical security systems is designed to communicate with other devices via network integration. This enables new system models to be implemented with enhanced performance and interoperability on several levels.

From a systems configuration perspective, previously disparate edge devices (both IP and even analog) can now truly integrate with one another. Although there continues to be much talk of integrated systems, the reality of the situation is that the majority of devices in a networked system don’t actually share internal information and data with one another. Access control devices and power supplies are a perfect example. They connect via the network – but they don’t necessarily integrate in the truest sense of the definition to enable remote access and control of internal programming and diagnostic data. In other words, being connected is not the same as being integrated.

This is all changing now with devices actually capable of communicating with one another and with related system components such as video management systems (VMS), access control, and fire/safety systems. This is, in essence, the foundation for the Internet of Things in the professional security and surveillance industry. Interestingly enough, it seems as if we are already entering into a new era in integrated systems – one that is familiar in theory, but not quite reality yet - based on existing technologies and budgeting practicalities.

As IP and analog networked devices across the system’s chain start to openly communicate with each other and head-end control systems – the remote control, programming and monitoring of individual edge devices is possible from anywhere an Internet connection can be obtained. This changes the system landscape from the perspective of both system providers and end-users.

Systems integrators and installing dealers can now significantly reduce the frequency and expense of field service calls to diagnose, repair and/or re-implement systems experiencing issues. With on-board IP communications capability, any and every device hung on the network can be instantly queried with diagnostics, and can be remotely programmed and/or controlled. Problems can be instantly isolated to a specific device or group of devices, diagnosed, and often corrected without a dispatching a truck or service technician into the field. This includes simple tasks such as rebooting individual devices, which often resolves issues. Furthermore, ongoing system monitoring can alert systems integrators of impending problems or required scheduled maintenance, thereby addressing potential issues before they become problematic. In addition to improving the overall reliability of end-users’ security and surveillance systems, systems integrators can further elevate the level of proactive service, and potentially create new recurring monthly revenue (RMR) streams where none previously existed.

From the user’s perspective, security management can operate systems with the assurance they are being professionally monitored and maintained on a regular basis. In addition to raising confidence in the technology protecting their facilities, people and assets, it can prove to help reduce overall liabilities and lower long-term exposure and costs.

Predictive analysis and/or intelligence are also new buzzwords that we are seeing used more often to describe and differentiate emerging systems’ capabilities. It’s a very interesting marketing position for companies to pursue and users to embrace. The terminology was devised to communicate the ability of new software and hardware integrations to detect and flag abnormalities, and then alert key management that a potential problem may be brewing. This advanced capability is perhaps the golden ring most sought after by security professionals – the ability to prevent incidents from happening.

For example, if an otherwise typical 9-to-5 employee starts using their access credentials to gain entry to facilities over the weekend or before/after regular business hours, or attempts to gain access to file servers that they do not have access privileges, something may be amiss. Systems with predictive analytics are designed to detect abnormalities attributed to a specific/single identity, correlate them, and automatically alert security management of a potential issue. The same technique can be applied to many different scenarios integrated with visitor management, point-of-sale, key management, and analytics solutions that monitor and measure everything from license plates and pedestrian traffic to video motion detection and access tailgating alerts. Nothing is beyond reach of becoming a useful data point on the new Internet of Things in the pro security world. But this too will take some time to gain traction as the new system technologies that enable predictive analysis first need to be fully implemented and integrated on the enterprise level.

Access control, visitor management, physical identity and access management (PIAM), and video management software-driven solutions are all critical data sources driving the top tier of the new systems model. And there have been considerable developments on more typically overlooked but ubiquitous system components such as physical access controllers, power supplies, IP and related transmission devices. Collectively, these software and hardware solutions are necessary to fully enable the Internet of Things for professional security and surveillance system applications. Our ability to connect devices and integrate has a new and higher level of meaning to the word convergence.

About the Author

Robert Laughlin | President, Galaxy Control Systems

Robert Laughlin is president of Galaxy Control Systems.