Q: So many of the same things are being said about AI and physical security system products – how do I make sense of it all?
A: Evaluating AI-enabled physical security products is similar to what we’ve always done for security products, but with a few new things to understand.
AI software has revolutionized traditional security devices and systems, transforming them into intelligent devices and high-performing systems. These AI-enabled security devices and systems excel in analyzing input data, extracting meaningful insights, and quickly transmitting messages or control signals to other devices and security stakeholders. While non-AI security products may also perform similar tasks, the question arises: What sets AI apart?
The distinguishing factor lies in the AI software running on these devices and systems, marking a significant departure from earlier software generations. At the core of AI software lies an AI model, a software and data framework that represents or approximates certain aspects of a real-world phenomenon, encapsulating the knowledge, patterns, or relationships learned from data during the AI training process.
The AI model is what gives AI software two critical new capabilities: massively parallel computation and the ability to learn. This model-based approach empowers AI to leverage parallel processing, allowing for vast computational power and accelerated data analysis. Furthermore, AI software's inherent capacity to learn from training and real-world experiences enables continuous improvement and adaptability, making it a significant change in the field of security.
The Focused Nature of AI for Security Products
The field of AI is dedicated to the development of intelligent machines or systems that can perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence. How do people become more intelligent about specific things? By learning – through training and experience. The same is true with AI. In the case of AI-based products, training occurs primarily at the manufacturer's end, while experience is gained once the AI-enabled product is deployed in its operational environment.
AI systems are often categorized as either "general AI," possessing human-level intelligence across various tasks and domains, or “narrow AI," designed and trained for specific tasks or domains. Narrow AI excels at performing specific functions but lacks the ability to generalize beyond its defined scope. This specificity is advantageous in the realm of security products, where excellence in particular functions is crucial.
One key advantage of narrow AI in security products is the simplicity and efficiency it offers. The narrower the AI scope, the simpler the AI model becomes, resulting in lower computational requirements and faster processing. Consequently, highly accurate results are achievable due to the focused nature of narrow AI.
AI Security Products that Excel
The learning factor is why many breakthrough AI-enabled products are emerging that can enhance the Return on Investment (ROI) of existing security systems. Here are two examples.
Cloud-based Calipsa became popular with commercial and proprietary central monitoring operations not just because of its effectiveness, but because it doesn’t require adding any on-site hardware or constant video streaming to the cloud. Calipsa's AI capabilities can accurately detect a person or vehicle motion – apart from any other motion in video - using just three seconds apart still images, emailed by a camera or a VMS, evidencing the power of narrow AI.
Alcatraz AI's facial authentication product for physical access control, based on a mathematical model of a face (not capturing and comparing images), bypasses facial recognition restrictions while ensuring quick and reliable access authentication. I saw the product (Alcatraz AI’s The Rock) in action at ISC West 2023. It works with existing card reader systems (using Wiegand or OSDP connection). You can use one or a hundred or more Rock devices without your access control system and without having to interface to a separate biometrics system or database.
AI-Enabled Force Multiplier Effects
AI-enabled technology brings three force multiplier effects to existing security systems:
- Increased ROI: AI products augment existing security systems, adding significant new capabilities and enhancing the value of prior security investments.
- Continuous Improvement: Modern software, including AI, undergoes continuous development, offering ongoing value enhancement over time.
- Cloud-based AI: Well-designed cloud-based AI systems perform collective learning using technical data received from all customer systems, resulting in improved performance and insights for each individual subscriber that are far greater than could be gained using isolated individual AI systems.
Careful evaluation and piloting remain essential steps before full deployment, as has always been the case. It is imperative to understand the business’s current security risk profile, and what risks have not been mitigated to the extent desired, to provide a context from which to evaluate security technology improvements. If approached in that fashion, integrating AI into security systems holds the potential to significantly increase security effectiveness and cost-efficiency in security administration and operations.
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