Security Trend Watch

March 13, 2015
A look at three trends truly taking hold in our industry, and how they are being deployed

From a technology perspective, the face of the security market has changed dramatically over the last decade. Deployments of IP video surveillance cameras are now commonplace. End-users can interact with and glean intelligence from access control systems in a way that people could only dream about in years past. Image resolution produced by cameras continues to improve, and advancements in compression technology have alleviated many of the concerns that once surrounded the storage of video footage.

With that being said, there will always be those within the industry who remain skeptical about certain trends — and rightfully so. After all, it was only a few years ago that many boasted about how video analytics would revolutionize the surveillance market, but that hype quickly fizzled after people realized that vendors could not deliver what they had promised — at least not in real-life environments. The development of NFC-enabled smartphones also generated a lot of buzz about the potential of mobile credentials replacing traditional proximity cards on a mass scale, but those deployments also have been in their infancy.       

As a security integrator with the chance to talk with people who actually use these various technologies on a day-to-day basis, it becomes much easier to decipher what trends are truly taking hold in the industry and which ones are yet to reach their peak. Vendors are certainly pushing the envelope when it comes to advancing the capabilities offered by security software and hardware, but the fact remains that some technology simply is not mature enough to be implemented by the vast majority of your end-user customers. However, keep in mind that some trends that many were previously willing to write off have today become the backbone of many organizations’ security infrastructure.

Trend #1: The Migration from Analog to IP Video

Market research firm IHS predicted that IP video would overtake analog in terms of revenues in 2014, while analog would continue to outpace IP with regard to unit shipments. While it is certainly true that there is still a huge existing install base of analog cameras in facilities throughout the world, it also is apparent that network video has become the default choice for end-users when it comes to new building installations or system upgrades — especially large-scale systems.

Not only does IP video offer better picture quality, it also offers superior functionality over traditional analog cameras, such as enhanced recording, playback and archiving capabilities when used in conjunction with a video management system at the head-end.

Trend #2: Wireless Comes of Age

While the ability to transmit video data wirelessly has been around for a number of years, only recently has the technology been refined to the point where it is now a viable option for a number of different applications. The potential of network downtime or latency issues associated with earlier wireless systems hampered adoption of the technology by many end-users; however, the benefits of wireless — faster installation and reduced costs that result from the elimination of additional wires that would have to be run in many cases — has sparked renewed interest in these systems.  

A prime example of this can be found in the municipal government market, where a multitude of cities have installed wireless mesh networks to support city-wide camera deployments that would otherwise be unfeasible. Although some cities have been proactive in upgrading their IT and communications infrastructure, the cost to run cable for surveillance cameras is often cost-prohibitive.

Transportation authorities also have turned to wireless networks to effectively integrate the surveillance solutions they have deployed on the light rail trains and buses they operate. For years, security managers within this industry had to wait for buses or trains to pull into depots at the end of the day so all of the data they collected with their onboard cameras throughout the day could be downloaded manually. Not only is this time-consuming; it also hinders their ability to have real-time situational intelligence on events as they unfold. But with the deployment of wireless communications, video data from the fleet can be gathered quickly and efficiently.

Even in access control, wireless card readers have become a primary consideration for facility managers in small-to-medium-sized businesses looking eliminate physical keys and create an audit trail of people who enter the building. The industry has only begun to scratch the surface of what could be achieved one day with embedded smartphone credentials — be it through the use of NFC or Bluetooth technology — but wireless access control in one form or another is here to stay.

Trend #3: Complete Systems Integration

An increasing number of end-users want the ability to interface existing building systems and other software platforms with their security system in a more meaningful way. In the healthcare market, for example, there is a big demand for middleware solutions that would enable the integration of security systems (access control, video, intrusion, etc.) with patient care and/or nurse call systems to create one comprehensive solution.

At the end of the day, end-users across the board are looking for solutions that providing relevant, real-time information to help them make more well-informed decisions and subsequently deliver more value to their organizations.

For example, in retail settings, video surveillance was used in years past as simply a means to prevent shoplifting. Mostly, it was viewed as a necessary evil. Today, video is seen by retailers as a value-add that provides them with key insights into the traffic patterns of shoppers and helps them optimally organize merchandise and improve store operations. Likewise, in many office settings, access control systems are used by some organizations for space planning purposes as it helps them better understand when personnel enter and leave a building throughout a typical day.   

The Proactive Movement

As an industry, we have moved from being reactive to preventive with the technology devices and software platforms that we deploy. But there is a push now toward the development and implementation of solutions that would provide predictive capabilities. End-users want to be able to predict those anomalous events that can lead to devastating consequences for an organization, such as unauthorized entry to a computer network or facility critical to operations.

Only time will tell what innovations have true staying power in the industry, but some will have an everlasting impact on the complexion of the marketplace.

Andre Greco is the Vice President of Xentry Systems Integration, Columbus, Ohio.


Case in Point: Network Cameras Transform Chicago Mall

Stratford Square Mall relies on flexibility and image quality of IP video surveillance

Chicago-area Stratford Square Mall relies on network cameras from Axis Communications to protect public safety and minimize shoplifting. The mall, which welcomes more than 12 million visitors a year, worked with Tinley Park, Ill.-based IT services company Preferred Communication Systems to install high definition cameras throughout common areas in the 1.3 million square-foot facility.

While most of the more than 160 retail stores manage their own surveillance needs, the IP cameras provide critical support in hallways, play areas and the mall’s exterior. Because the cameras are network-based, the mall can quickly and easily add or move cameras when the mall’s layout changes, and the cameras’ durability ensures the mall will have continual access to HDTV-quality video to monitor shopper safety, find lost children and help protect mall assets and combat crime. Axis camera models deployed include the discrete M3014 Fixed Dome Network Cameras for drop ceilings and the P5534 PTZ Dome Network Cameras to cover the entryways into the mall.

“With our system, it is easy to add more cameras, we have a great response time, and everything runs smoothly,” says Doug Kiehn, general manager, Stratford Square Mall.

In addition to public safety, the cameras also enable the mall security team to cooperate with specific stores and the local police in identifying and prosecuting criminals. The security team can pick up suspects on video as they leave stores and head to the parking lot. They are able to zoom on faces, tattoos and other identifying marks, which can be seen clearly in the HDTV-quality video. These images are often provided to the police, who in turn, use them to successfully prosecute cases. They can also connect the local police to live video feeds to increase situational awareness in the event of an emergency.


Case in Point: Northeastern University Opts for Wireless Access System

Technology transforms residence hall doors and locks

 Boston’s Northeastern University has rolled out online door access control on 8,000 doors in its 36 residence halls and other facilities to replace labor-intensive offline and key-based locks.

The systems include CBORD Group’s CS Access for online access control, which is fully integrated with its CS Gold campus card system already used on campus. Together with Allegion’s Schlage AD-400 wireless locks and aptiQ smart cards, the integrated, online solution: Controls and updates locks remotely; opens doors with a card, app or text message ; eliminates metal master keys; enacts quick emergency lockdowns on one or thousands of doors; and audits door histories and alarm states.

“The online access control installation at Northeastern is really exciting,” says Max Steinhardt, CBORD’s President. “Residence hall security is a critical aspect of any campus safety plan, and Northeastern is doing it well by choosing an online solution with secure, mobile-enabled convenience.”

The locks are designed with the future in mind. If Northeastern moves to a different campus card format, the lock’s reader can be easily replaced without removing the rest of the lock from the door.

In addition to public safety, the cameras also enable the mall security team to cooperate with specific stores and the local police in identifying and prosecuting criminals. The security team can pick up suspects on video as they leave stores and head to the parking lot. They are able to zoom on faces, tattoos and other identifying marks, which can be seen clearly in the HDTV-quality video. These images are often provided to the police, who in turn, use them to successfully prosecute cases. They can also connect the local police to live video feeds to increase situational awareness in the event of an emergency.


Delivering More than Security for Retailers

New technologies provide real-time business intelligence for the retail market

Security manufacturers have taken note of the trend toward total systems integration — especially in the retail market. March Networks and Exacq Technologies are just two of many that have heard the call from end-users and systems integrators alike that a simple loss prevention or video surveillance system no longer provides the ROI that retail customers are looking for.

March Networks, for example, has responded with the release of its Searchlight4 video-based business intelligence solution. The system provides retailers with the valuable insights they need to improve customer service, marketing and operations, as well as loss prevention and security, across a few or hundreds of locations. It leverages video integrations with point-of-sale (POS) transaction data by combining it with business analytics to deliver relevant information to operations, marketing and customer service groups. Retail teams can run customized reports that enable analysis and comparison of store performance and customer behaviors.

Other technologies leveraged include video analytics for people counting and queue length monitoring —along with dwell time to track the success of on-site advertising, promotions and merchandising.

In January, Exacq announced it has partnered to integrate VoloForce’s Real Cadence software into its exacqVision VMS products. Real Cadence goes beyond loss prevention to leverage the security system to provide retailers with a tool to manage strategic branding, store operations and every aspect of the business.

With the integration, users can visually see their product placement in each individual store throughout the world and ensure their brand is being properly executed. This integration allows corporate office users and regional store managers to associate the video of specific retail locations with corporate checklists and brand processes, saving them time and reducing operational costs of traveling to each location. “Now retailers can visually monitor their store’s key performance indicators without costly travel,” says Scott Dennison of Exacq.

Video from the appropriate camera is automatically mapped to the zone within the store department. A traffic counter feature verifies the video with the number of people entering and exiting the store. At any time, a regional manager can view and receive the necessary insight into all locations operations.

About the Author

Andre Greco

Andre Greco is vice president of Columbus, Ohio-based Xentry Systems Integration. He has been involved in the security integration business since 1989.