Forming Real Bonds

Forming Real Bonds

Fully using technology will help security companies connect with customers

Artificial intelligence has been in the headlines a lot recently. It will help save mankind or usher in the robot apocalypse, depending on which article you read. Security professionals, who have spent the past decade creating connected buildings and bringing digital devices into the homes of millions of consumers, understandably have mixed feelings about AI.

One view of artificial intelligence comes from years of innovating in the security business. With the right approach and controls, AI presents an exciting opportunity for our industry. The use of AI to better solve problems for our customers means we will move from simply protecting property to proactively ensuring our customers' well-being. It means we'll be able to partner with other industries, such as healthcare, and add a range of services to what we already offer.

As AI is applied to the data our devices have been collecting for years — and which will only grow in volume over time — we are entering a whole new era for security professionals.

Defining AI

Hollywood screenwriters have depicted AI in countless ways, but what is it really? Arti ficial intelligence means different things to different industries. To the security installer, it should mean a resource that has been at our fingertips for the past 10 years, which we are only now in a good position to leverage.

The industry has spent years deploying cameras and sensors in homes and commercial buildings. It's because of security professionals that there are at least 10 million "connected" buildings today, with an average of six to eight devices inside each one.

With approximately 100 million sensors, cameras and other devices deployed and collecting data across the country, there is a wealth of information at our fingertips. Unlike the tech giants that sell connected-home gadgets, we're not looking to use that information to drive sales of unrelated products. We can use this information to make what we sell already more valuable to our customers. AI is the layer of analytics that can sit on top of the mountain of data we're already collected that will allow us to better anticipate the wishes of our customers. It's the path to evolve from being a passive system of protection into a proactive helper and enabler. This isn't Big Brother. AI is about increasing the value we offer to consumers.

How AI Can Broaden the Definition of Security

Artificial intelligence is a series of data-analysis programs we can apply to the video and other information our devices are collecting. But, beyond alerting homeowners to break-ins, why do we want to analyze this information?

The answer is simple: If we use AI programs to analyze the information we're collecting, we can offer new services while ensuring our customers are even safer. Here are a few basic examples of how this might occur.

Most people are creatures of habit. Families and businesses adhere to a daily routine, and it doesn't take long for an AI program to learn when people tend to come and go. There are schedules and normal daily practices. That means AI can learn when you want the lights on, and when you typically lock the doors.

Artificial intelligence is also good at spotting variations from the routine. Plenty of consumers and business owners want to know not just if someone has broken into their premises, but if something out of the ordinary has occurred.

A camera capable of recording a breakin is also capable of spotting a suspicious character on your doorstep and alerting you. With AI capabilities, a camera can discern the difference between a harmless deer walking through a backyard and a dangerous intruder.

AI can spot the difference between a normal routine and a variation, and alert the customer. In the case of elder care, that can save a life while enabling independent living.

Imagine a security installer with a customer who has an elderly mother living across town. That customer wants to know more than just whether an intruder has broken in, such as, "Did my mother get out of bed at the usual time today? Did she take her medication at the right time? Is she sticking to the basic routines that tell me she is healthy and well, or has she varied from the routine?

If we begin to use the data we collect to offer proactive alerts and tips about security, we go far beyond ringing an alarm if someone breaks into a home or business. We become an active helper in the lives of people, informing them any time there's a change to the standard course of daily events.

Where We Go From Here

Sensors and cameras can offer valuable information, whether to individual customers or whole industries. With AI underpinning the collection and analysis of information, the devices we've already put in the field can detect things like changes to temperature and humidity, or electricity usage patterns.

Information like this can be a boon to the property management business in the same way home monitoring can be a game-changer to the healthcare industry. Our devices are already out there, collecting the information necessary to make these things happen. We just have to interpret the data and make it useful.

The security professional should think of AI as the bridge that gets us to these insights. We can help our customers better understand and manage the unexpected in their lives. The key is partnering with a security technology provider that understands the potential of AI, and helps you harness it.

At Alula, we have already developed and demonstrated AI technologies that distinguish specific objects in the video content we capture. We are able to initiate actions automatically based on unexpected or unusual sensor activity, and the Alula platform is being leveraged to monitor changes in activity for aging people living independently.

These solutions and others will be delivered to our professional partner network over the next several years, helping to solidify the value of the professional security channel for the next decade and beyond.

Artificial intelligence is the way we offer more value, roll out new services and form closer relationships with the customers we serve. It's not going to replace us, but rather make us more relevant than ever.

This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Security Today.

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