IN the wake of Security 2014 Exhibition, it’s tempting to project the mind ahead 5 years and try to imagine the sorts of issues and technologies we are likely to be living with. 

Some technologies are obvious – there’s going to be lots of cloud. We're seeing it in video surveillance, alarms and automation, and access control. I think in 5 years cloud will be deeply embedded as a layer of the professional monitoring industry. I think TelstraSNP is a good sign – that alliance shows Telstra knows what a security system is and understands duty of care. It’s a recognition likely to mirrored by new players. 

We are going to see more alliances between big suppliers, monitoring stations and telcos. Ownership of the vertical is a big deal, in my opinion. I can’t help but feel every company serious about cloud security solutions will want to own a monitoring platform or a monitoring station with an integrated data centre. We’ve not seen the last acquisition in this area, that’s for certain. 

In the future, I think we’ll see a parallel industry that provides less serious electronic security solutions for more general use. These solutions will come from a number of different sources – retailers, smaller telcos, and Internet giants like Google, et al. Self-monitoring of single-sensor alarm systems and low res, low frame rate video surveillance of pet cats – these things are going to happen but I can’t see them cannibalising serious electronic security solutions. System security is going to be a big thing with consumer-grade cloud. I don’t know when the first big cloud security system breach will come but come it will. 

Another parallel that’s going to have more impact in the years ahead is IT integrators competing for electronic security work and IT departments doing their own system integrations. Better electronic security integrators are going to continue to become IT integrators but there will still be pressure and it’s likely to have a negative impact on system capability. 

The reason for this will be continued downward pressure on price messing with system performance. I’ve seen it in a number of installations over the past 12 months – inappropriate hardware selection based on price. It’s a bit depressing when our best new electronic security solutions reach giddy heights of affordable performance no one is prepared to pay for. It’s security, people. When you need it, you need it to work. 

In the area of alarm panels over the next five years we're going to see the arrival of more controllers and devices that are comms agnostic – they’ll bring in Z-wave, Wi-Fi and more. Big players are flexing muscle. Tyco, Honeywell, Bosch, 2GIG (Ness) – and this is only going to accelerate the development of automation solutions. Again, it’s beyond doubt there are security issues that need addressing with Wi-Fi and Z-Wave but there are security issues with 433Mhz, too. A completely open alarm and automation system is sure to be developed in the mid-term. 

When it comes to sensing technology, I’m a bit torn. PIR, microwave and dual technology sensors are low cost, low power draw and very capable 24-hours. I think in 5 years we’ll see alarm sensors with 1080p HD cameras onboard linked to alarm/automation panels with video boards and maybe, local storage units. Video verification is the key thing here – low res to the cloud, high res to local SD. At the very least these solutions will allow monitoring station operators and home owners more information when trying to make a decision about the dreaded single activation.

Cameras – as a group they are getting better and less expensive and more specialised, as well as more general. There’s a camera for practically every application, I think core camera technology in 5 years will still be 1080p but video analytics will be doing vastly more – managing recording, recognising activity in scenes, providing alerts and doing more of the things we wished it could do 10 years ago. IVA is coming, no doubt about that – and fast. 

Supporting IVA will be more and more integrated IR, which will turn cameras into automated 24-hour monitoring devices. We’ve not seen a combination of integrated IR and white LEDs in video surveillance cameras yet but I think we will see this over the next 5 years. As for uncooled microbolometers used as high end, false alarm-immune sensing devices – you wish…

By John Adams

“It’s a bit depressing when our best new solutions reach giddy heights of affordable performance that no one is prepared to pay for. It’s security, people. When you need it, you need it to work”