An Insight to Technology

The other day, I received a note and booklet from Ron Hawkins, manager of technical writing and special projects, SIA, that contained the Security Industry Association’s Technology Insights. It is their first edition of what is expected to be a semi-annual publication, serving as a resource for people in the security industry.

A publication like this is a welcome addition to the stable of two or three Tier 1 publications in the industry. The reason? Well, in the first edition, SIA tackles the topics that these same industry journals have been writing about for years. This issue details the transition to IP.

As more systems are going online, the more these systems rely on a wireless backbone to deliver security in a world filled with technology, smartphones and tablets.

Putting the Byte in Surveillance

Who better than Fredrik Nilsson, general manager, North America, Axis Communications, to talk about video surveillance?

When IP cameras first hit the market in 1996, they faced an uphill battle. The IP camera not only caught up with, and eventually surpassed, the analog camera, but resolution climbed to a full 1080p. IP became television quality in a security camera, and along with H.264 compression standards, camera manufacturers were able to change the streaming landscape from a few rough and tumble frames-per-second to a smooth 30 fps.

Lately, three advances in IP camera technology have redefined electronic surveillance: visual acuity, onboard storage and in-camera intelligence. (If only humans could increase these advantages for themselves as they mature).

In fact, the major game changers in visual acuity have been in resolution, wide dynamic range and low light sensitivity. In my case, onboard storage seems a much better idea than writing notes to myself.

Speaking of Smart

Analytics can make cameras smarter, but how smart can they really be?

Brian Karas, VP of global sales and support, VideoIQ, says that video analytics can be interpreted to mean many different things. Development, over the past few years, has started to provide clear differentiators between what is truly meant by analytics and motion detection.

In modern perimeter protection systems, the ability to analyze the scene and spot rule violations is a capability embedded within a camera or encoder device, making these systems adaptable to a variety of environments.

Karas said, “Generally speaking, an analytics vendor will usually specialize in either perimeter protection or business applications. Rarely will one vendor cover both scenarios fully.”

One thing for certain, analytics are not going to be a wholesale replacement for guards, but they can make those guards much more effective in their duties.

The Security Ecosystem

Since the IP revolution, there have been added rewards along with various risks. Now, it’s imperative to know how secure a system really is.

Pedro Duarte, vice president for Samsung Techwin in Latin America, says the race is on to see who will better survive with this new technology. The notion that there is a total security solution is nothing more than a myth, and most companies have failed or given up on this value proposition. The “one-size-fits-all” approach has given way to a custom approach that fulfills the requirements and wishes of each customer.

“Few customers are willing to simply dispose of all the equipment and systems they have installed,” Duarte said. “Instead, they want to make their personal ‘orchestra’ continue to play in tune, regardless of what feature they add to the system.”

So, how does one choose an IP camera? Selecting an IP-based camera that offers the best security features is an excellent first step. The next critical step is to have it installed by someone who is cognizant of those features and how they should be implemented.

Not So Private in a Connected World

Unfortunately, public policy and statutes have not kept pace with the rapid innovations in the security industry, but that’s okay because with proper planning and precautions, security and privacy can coexist.

Kathleen Carroll, director of government relations, HID Global, acknowledged that technology, such as biometrics, mobile devices and the cloud, plus the complexity of addressing privacy and security concerns, increases exponentially when using new technologies.

The way things appear to be headed, beyond video surveillance and facial recognition, are global positioning systems that can pinpoint location. Add to that the millions of mobile cameras in the hands of consumers, and you’ll see that this is truly a surveillance society.

Each of these writers publishes expertise in more detail than is available here. I think you’ll like what they have to say and value their opinions, just as I do. SIA picked a great group of experts to convey to the security world at large that technology is more than an insight.

This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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