Electronic Security Technology in 2016: The Year That Was

Clearfix
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2016 was a pivotal year in electronic security technology
2016 was a pivotal year in electronic security technology

LOOKING back on 2016 it’s hard not to see groundswells across the electronic security industry that don’t just point to future trends but underscore the nature of our technology.

The impact of Mirai malware, which turns CCTV recorders and cameras into attack bots, rolls on. Mirai shows us many things – that the electronic security industry is a networked animal and that online ecosystems are unsafe. For the longest time, integrators and end users have managed to avoid being targeted by high profile attacks – mostly through the judicious use of subnets and VLANs – but network defence is going to be a serious consideration in our future.  

The expectation of intrinsic security and integrity within network devices puts extra onus on manufacturers who will need to build protective mechanisms and transparency into products and business models – this is something we are going to see more of. And given moves to include security capabilities as part of alarm and home automation devices from groups like the Z-Wave Alliance, this is not just about CCTV. Everything that touches a network needs to be trusted, needs defending. 

There was more integration than ever in 2016 – all the systems we saw were multi-faceted in many ways, not only major systems but smaller solutions, too. Everybody wants their system to be able to achieve a little bit more and this appetite for control seems to be driven by remote accessibility. When you can turn the security system on and off and view cameras remotely, it suddenly makes sense to be able to answer the intercom and turn on the lights. Control and functionality have entered a mutually supporting feedback loop. 

In 2016 end users are driven by security, safety and by economy – not only in private organisations but in Smart Cities initiatives. This means solutions capable of handling multiple tasks locally and remotely are in favour, particularly if they reduce staffing levels and especially after hours. Video surveillance and access control have long been pitched for their capacity to reduce staffing requirements but we seem to be on the cusp of a bigger change. Systems of the future will be sold on lateral ROI. 

The shift is driven by developments networking, in management software, in alliances between hardware and software makers and in IVA. Here, developments are leading to solutions that make the most of what IVA can reliably do. For decades IVA strove towards the Holy Grail of face recognition 99.9 per cent of the time. Such functionality is possible in perfect conditions but on the street where cameras are installed with other tasks in mind, face recognition is much, much harder and software has proven less capable that human super-recognisers. 

What intelligent video analytics does best is tell operators or management systems about incidents that breach application-specific rules – these might involve movements in the wrong direction, fast movements, gun shots, gathering crowds, fires, the arrival of a numberplate in a carpark, a cluster of flashing lights. Whatever pixels can measure or microphones discern. IVA offers lateral capabilities, too. A large system of surveillance cameras installed around a site gathers vast amounts of useful data that can be leveraged by an enterprise to polish its operations. In a retail mall, that might include the ability to hone marketing strategies, to establish the busiest locations, to uncover bottlenecks to customer movement, to assess the value of opening hours and plenty more.  

Alongside and throughout all this is a hunger for situational awareness site-wide, enterprise-wide and city-wide. There’s no doubt that the threat profile of recent years drives this to considerable extent. Everybody accepts that these risks are real, are when not if. Situations involving active shooters or bomb attacks in public spaces, including city centres and public buildings, ramp up the need for emergency and response teams to have holistic understanding of unfolding threats and to be able to share that information in real time. 

In 2016 users really started to own the functionality potential of the technologies they are buying and that’s the key trend we see pushing through into next year. The underlying electronic security technology will continue to evolve but the way end users access and action the information of our inputs and outputs – that’s going to be turned onto its head in 2017 and in the years to come. ♦