The Age of Voice
Voice is evolving as an active partner in the security industry
- By Jim Hoffpauir
- Sep 01, 2018
We all are talking to machines these days. We talk
to assistants in our home, in our cars and on
our phones. By using our voice, we feel more
engaged (Thanks to Alexa!). We also become
more productive, freeing our hands and minds
for other tasks.
At the same time we are communicating with the machines, we
are teaching them about us. The more we engage the better they can
assist and anticipate our needs.
Even at this stage in the technology, we still have our issues. The
exceptional user experience is still wanting. Often it is due to the limitations
of clarity that befuddles the machine and leads to multiple
attempts by the user to communicate.
With all these issues, how is voice evolving to meet the needs of
It turns out, there are very similar problems that have diluted
The first challenge was the industry’s initial focus on implementing
access control, finding a way to easily validate identity and provide
appropriate access. The second generation was to deploy video
to augment human beings and increase situational awareness. Key
issues developed around full integration with access as well as the
exponential increase in manpower in identifying and responding to
incidents. As well, video clarity, management, storage and evidentially
sound reporting had to evolve to meet the need. Many of these
issues have finally been addressed. However, the people, process and
integration issues are still a challenge. Along with these issues is the
continued challenge of cyber defensibility.
Given all this, consultants and integrators have traditionally led
with access and video. Audio was a stepchild, an afterthought.
There were compounding reasons for this. Much like video, the
level of integration with other enterprise systems was poor. The
access and video management vendors reflected the market by not
making audio a core capability of their offerings. The level of clarity,
when it was truly called upon to deliver, was a significant challenge;
one that has damaged the credibility of the audio market. Finally,
intercom was just as challenged as video vendors in making cyber
defensibility a core part of the design of their systems.
The market is shifting. The devices security executives are deploying
are sensors. They collect and, at times, aggregate data, but
the data needs to be turned into information. The information,
ultimately, must provide a comprehensive understanding of organizational
risk, situational awareness and real-time response. That
requires a new business model for most vendors and new evaluation criteria for the security executive and their
IT support team.
Audio is Emerging
Given the challenge, a new market category
is emerging: Intelligent Communications.
It reinforces the present day and future use
cases that are identified by security risk
management service providers. Those use
cases point to the need to integrate access,
video surveillance and audio, not as a line
item on an RFP, but as a business model by
The reason: without a bundled solution,
interoperability is not recognized or reinforced.
There was a day I shopped for individual
applications to meet various needs of
mine like desktop publishing, spreadsheets or
presentations. There were multiple vendors in
each space, but what we really needed was a
way to work holistically by ensuring interoperability
and a premium easy-to-use, easy-todeploy,
end user experience. Meet Microsoft
Office; a unified platform experience.
Once this occurs, a rapid evolution in
the technology will occur. Voice as another
form of authentication; or voice behavioral
recognition. Machine learning of how voice
is being used.
We were able to conduct interviews with
several industry leaders: consultants, integrators
and leading technology vendors to confirm
our own research.
“We believe intelligent communications
within the security industry is critical,” said
Lorna Chandler, CEO of Security by Design,
a leading independent security consulting
and design firm. “Our customers have
been requesting smart buildings for years,
and we believe that this is a vehicle for finally
achieving that goal. Using voice, video and
access control in a collaborative way will allow
our customers increase their security at a in their devices to deliver communications clearly, crisply and in a
Jonathan Berman, the president and general manager of Open Options
believes his position in the market as a premier access control
company depends on their interconnectivity of systems.
“Part of that critical infrastructure is to combine video and audio
to respond to critical situations at a moment’s notice,” Berman said.
“The ability to tie it all together, access, video and audio is fundamental
to the success of our clients.”
Jason Schimpf, vice president of the Product/Partner Programs at
AMAG Technology did not even mention access control as a description
of who AMAG is. He prefers “Unified Security Platform.”
“AMAG is the technology platform within G4S,” Schimpf said.
“Historically we were known as an access control platform. In recent
years we have repositioned our company as a unified security solution
platform. Security executives have been telling us that they need
a robust, flexible complete unified security platform. So, we consider
video management, visitor management, guest management, and intelligent,
intelligible and actionable communications as core to our
platform. The criteria for intelligent communications is the ability to
hear in any situation, be interoperable with our unified platform and,
in today’s world, provide cyber defensibility.”
Phil Aronson, president of Aronson Security Group could not
“To really have full situational awareness you must be able to get
all the information you need at the time of need,” Aronson said. “We
can no longer deploy silos of excellence. We must have a fully interoperable
solution that provides two-way communication with access
and video, so you can virtually respond to any incident real-time,
without the lag time of a guard response. It is the only way you can
truly be present at the time of need. But, you must have voice clarity
in your intelligent communications solution.
“If you don’t, then you might as well not deploy it. We recommend
developing a use case and really testing the audio quality under
different simulated environmental conditions. We also recommend
testing for cyber defensibility before you deploy. Intelligent communications
is becoming a critical offering for the platform providers
because of the rapidly evolving threat conditions.”
An Audio Partnership
Voice is becoming critical to the operation and to the security program.
It provides a level of engagement at the time of need not found
in other applications. The business model is changing. Access control
providers are evolving into business process optimization and business
intelligence platforms. Access control is something they do, not
who they are becoming.
Video Management Systems are recognizing the need to integrate
voice into the video for situational awareness and actionable response
and the end user is beginning to value intelligent communications as
the means to not only engage their users at the time of need, but also
deliver compelling value in deploying resources
within a process by embedding audio and voice
throughout their organization. Communication is
always critical, not just at the time of an incident.
Are the machines you are buying and deploying
ready for the age of voice?
This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Security Today.