OUR cover story for September looks at the changes sweeping the IT industry, recognising that our symbiosis with IT means security electronics and networks people and their products cannot avoid being swept along for the ride.

While I was writing that feature I started thinking about the broader impact of technological change and how it’s likely to flow through over the next 5 years. For a start what’s interesting is that the technologies proliferating are those change the way people interact with information. That information might be data, friends, systems, video, music – it’s the interface that’s the key here. 

The number that attracts my attention is this one – 760 million tablets will be in use within 2-and-half years, one third of which will be used in business environments. What does this mean? It means we need to think about security solutions that can be supported by mobile networks, we need to think about securing mobile devices, we need to think about fronting our systems with mobile device landing pads. 

What else does the massive growth in tablets mean? It means users are going to be deploying devices that are light on integrated hardware – light on storage. That means cloud is going to grow as a consumer concept. And fast. What does fast growth mean? It means investment by big players and affordability for consumers. 

Something else that’s interesting is growing talk about sensors and remote computing technologies. This is stuff we deal with day to day but it’s beginning to sink into the consumer and business mind-set. I often hear developers of leading edge electronic security systems complaining that what’s needed for a particular system or technology to succeed is user education. Well, users are getting educated and that’s because the way technology communicates is changing. 

What does this mean? It means businesses and end users are beginning to want to access all their devices from their mobile interfaces. Whether these be alarm sensors, cameras, plant room sensors, research sensors. Any device, no matter how small, can now be incorporated into networks cheaply. And that really changes everything. 

We’ve all heard talk about the ‘internet of things’. This is a growing reality. What does this internet of things generate? It generates vast amounts of information that can be processed for situational awareness at multiple layers. Part of this is a revolution in process data management technology but there’s plenty to be gained for security people, too, as our systems increasingly integrate with core business solutions. The key word here, in my opinion, is intelligence. 

Something else that’s coming through is development of new infrastructure and application platforms. Changes at the infrastructure layer create more capable software platforms and these offer greater scope for our applications. We all know that security solutions have long been hamstrung by poor network design, as well as by feeble WAN infrastructure. These changes will address many of our issues, enabling solutions we’ve never been able to apply. 

Something else to look out for is end user computing technologies. The idea of these is to re-invent the client experience with increased collaboration and a more personalised interface. The keys for electronic security people will be meeting user expectations while retaining security and performance levels. 

There are some other areas of interest, like 3D printing technology. This doesn’t just reduce the cost of items, it lowers the development threshold enormously. Furthermore, 3D printing of circuit boards reduces the development time for new products. And the buyers of this 3D printing gear aren’t big companies but a spectrum of start-ups, individuals and end users. 

Other things of interest to me include 4K and 8K displays. The operational attraction is the ability for control rooms to display multiple 1080p HD images simultaneously. Consumers will need to drive the shift through price falls and this may take time. But there are definite benefits for security teams. 

In comms, I think 4G LTE is going to keep growing in the mobile space. Given the slow roll-out of the NBN’s fibre to the door and the uncertainty we are likely to see with NBN from the next federal government, I think security solutions that leverage wide band wireless will prosper.

 

By John Adams