What’s Trending for 2018

What’s Trending for 2018

And will it be good your business . . . or not?

Technology is perpetual motion personified. It is always marching forward, striving to become smarter, faster, more resilient, and more efficient than its predecessor. The same holds true for emerging trends that are reshaping our future. The question is: Will this unstoppable momentum sweep your business forward or leave it trampled in the dust? To determine that you need to understand where the security industry is trending and how you can adapt those innovations to your advantage. You’ll need to consider such things as how these trends might affect your business and whether you can live with short-term disruption for the promise of long-term gain.

All trends have consequences. The five trends that will be dominating 2018 are no exception. Will their impact will be good for business or bad? Ultimately only you can decide.

The Internet of Things: We are All Interconnected

IoT has essentially changed the world’s concept of the “workplace” forever. The office is no longer defined by four walls or the workday by time zones. The ubiquitous use of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices makes it possible for users to log onto the corporate network, vendors’ networks, even strategic business partners’ networks, at any time and from any place.

For the security industry, IoT connectivity began with the first network camera, which opened the door to remote monitoring and remote maintenance. Now the variety of security systems sharing the corporate network includes IP access control systems, IP-based intercoms and IP-based intelligent audio systems all taking their place alongside network surveillance systems and sophisticated analytics. This trend can be a double edged sword, however.

On the one hand, each new device, each new piece of software or firmware integrated through the network presents an opportunity to increase capabilities while streamlining operations and improving situational awareness. On the other hand, it requires a greater depth of knowledge to properly integrate systems and derive the most benefit from them. Furthermore, every addition to the network increases the number of entry points that hackers might exploit.

Cybersecurity: The Cautionary Side of Interconnectivity

This brings us to the second trend: the IoT ecosystem necessitates ever-greater cybersecurity. Ignore this new reality at your own peril, or in the case of the massive Equifax cyber breach, at the potential peril of about 143 million people.

To mitigate risks in this kind of an open ecosystem, you need all the vendors operating off the same cyber security playbook. This means that while manufacturers and developers continue hardening their product with stronger cybersecurity features, they also have to consider how introducing those features might impact every other device, application and operation on the network. IT, physical security and technology manufacturers will have to work in close concert to ensure that the ecosystem works in synergy at both an operational and cybersecurity level. It will become increasingly important for manufacturers and integrators to actively participating in professional cybersecurity forums to stay abreast of vulnerabilities that might compromise the security ecosystem and how to address them.

You will see more manufacturers providing management tools to assist integrators and end users with ongoing maintenance and version control of device firmware and cybersecurity features. But for cyber protection to work, technology has to be complemented by strict policies and procedures for using it.

That means cyber awareness and cyber security training will continue to be paramount for the foreseeable future.

Users will rely on integrators and manufacturers to play a more proactive role in helping them formulate, publish and enforce hardening guidelines to ensure that the IT infrastructure and connected devices are secured properly and that cyber best practices are being followed. This would also include helping to craft a reaction plan that can be instantly deployed in the event of a breach to minimize exposure.

Big Data: Creating Business Intelligence from Raw Data

We all know that security systems continually generate massive amounts of data and video surveillance cameras are probably the biggest culprits. This brings me to the third trend: the handling of big data. What’s happening with all that data we’ve collected?

We’re now starting to see the securing industry deploying ever more sophisticated video analytics to extract quantifiable metrics from visual images that can lead to actionable business intelligence. That could be anything from measuring customer volume throughout the day to determine staffing needs to reprogramming traffic lights based on roadway congestion detected by citywide cameras. With the ability to quickly aggregate and synthesize data from multiple surveillance cameras and other security systems, analytics provide users with a more in-depth assessment of the situation on which to base a timely response.

Big data also provides a fertile ground for new self-learning analytics, also known as artificial intelligence or deep learning, to parse, learn from and make determinations or predictions that can increase accuracy and further aid companies in their quest for broader insights and faster alerts to potential threats.

Collecting, transporting and synthesizing this data into meaningful business intelligence, however, requires disciplined use of resources from the network infrastructure transporting the data to the various technologies (on board analytics on cameras, local servers, private cloud, hybrid cloud, public cloud) storing and disseminating it securely. This opens a window of opportunity for big storage companies and host providers to capitalize on the big data trend and position themselves as strategic partners in the security industry.

This also highlights the need for video systems to leverage their intelligence interactively to use bandwidth and storage more efficiently.

Smart Compression: Customized for Video Surveillance

This brings us to our next trend: smart compression that optimizes video transmission and storage based on retention value. Traditionally, the primary variables at a customer’s disposal were frame rates and resolution. But with new, smarter compression algorithms designed specifically for the video surveillance industry, security users now have more options for selectively transmitting and storing video footage.

H.264 and H.265 compression standards were designed for consumer electronics and the film industry and took an all or nothing approach to compression. H.264 is the de-facto standard in video surveillance today, with H.265 being adopted over the next few years depending on products, computing power and patent circumstances which are more complex for H.265. New security-centric compression technology, on the other hand, dynamically allocates regions of interest depending on activity in the camera’s field of view.

The part of the video frame containing interesting details are recorded in full image quality and resolution, while areas containing no forensic value are filtered out. This ensures that important details like faces, tattoos or license plates are isolated and preserved, while irrelevant areas such as white walls, lawns and vegetation are sacrificed using smoothing. The result is optimal use of available bandwidth and storage which leads to significant savings. Depending on video resolution, frame rate and scene activity it can cut bandwidth and storage requirements by half or more for most surveillance applications.

Sustainability: Becoming Better Global Citizens

This brings us to the fifth trend: sustainability which goes hand-inhand with optimal use of resources.

Green-initiatives will continue to gain momentum. Sustainability will become a significant influence on decision-making at every level – from conserving power to minimizing waste. Achieving those sustainability goals will necessitate greater collaboration between customers, distributors, strategic partners, manufacturers and suppliers to ensure better global citizenship across the entire value chain.

This will be expressed in a variety of ways from taking steps to lower the entire chain’s carbon footprint and assure compliance with environmental laws and regulations to addressing social and ethical questions such as government corruption, human rights violations, compulsory child labor, fair wages and sourcing minerals from countries where their sale would be used to finance armed conflict. F

or many companies, sharing a mutual commitment to sustainability will become the litmus test for doing business together and the foundation for building long-term strategic relationships.

What Will be the Impact for You?

The megatrends mentioned in this article are certainly not exclusive to the security industry. You’ll find that they have permeated many other industries as well. The questions you need to ask yourself are: How will my business deal with them? Will their impact be cataclysmic or catalytic? To know that you need to educate yourself. Attend seminars to learn what thought leaders have to say. Engaged in conversations with industry peers. And align yourself with vendors and strategic partners who understand the long-term trajectory of these trends and have a solid roadmap for embracing them.

This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Security Today.

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