What is on the Horizon?

What is on the Horizon?

The security industry has a long history of pushing the technology envelope. Whether taking quantum leaps or building incrementally on past achievements, we’re in constant forward motion. While no one can guarantee how that will play out in 2021, here are a few observations about where I think we are going.


Technology continues to advance at an accelerated pace. Software and hardware are being integrated in novel ways to create smarter solutions. We are seeing more solutions being designed to serve multiple purposes from safety and security to business operations. What’s driving these trends? Some of the impetus is simply the natural evolution of technology and the fiexibility that networks offer. Another thing spurring innovation is the need to respond to crises. As the well-worn adage says, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” COVID-19 is no exception. During 2020, many IP devices— originally designed for security—have been integrated with other technologies and put into service in new ways.

For example, hospitals using IP cameras and networks to scale their ability to visually monitor patients remotely, ef- flciently manage resources and rapidly respond to emergencies. They are using audio and object detection analytics to recognize a patient in distress from a fall, injury or other difflculty, and expedite lifesaving response. They’re using in-room video cameras to monitor patient vital signs remotely through integrated telemetry systems. In today’s COVID world, this greatly decreases the frequency of inperson encounters between patients and medical staff thereby reducing exposure and the risk of transmitting the virus— and ultimately improving healthcare outcomes.

COVID-19 will continue to have a major impact on how the world operates in the coming year. To help their customers remain safe and protected in this new reality, security professionals will flnd themselves creatively adapting traditional surveillance and security devices to new roles and employing new technologies–offering solutions for touchless entry, social distancing and virtual interactions designed to contain the spread of the virus. With lessons- learned and resourcefulness in mind, technological advancement, integrated network solutions, and future challenges will increasingly create opportunity for IP solutions to add value.


It is no secret that trust in business, government, media and NGOs has been eroding for a while. Trust comes in many forms: being an honest and transparent partner, standing behind your products and following a consistent business model. Furthermore, it’s crucial to deliver products that can capture, process and store data responsibly and protect against cyberattacks. This starts with forward-thinking and best practices in the design, development and testing of products in order to minimize risks.

As security professionals, we need to embody a strong business ethic, one that resists corruption, demonstrates social responsibility, and personifles good global citizenship. We must manage that flne line between protecting individual privacy and providing sufflcient surveillance to make the community feel safe and secure in public and private environments. It is a dynamic landscape that that requires navigating changing attitudes and regulations both within the United States and across the globe.


As the technology ecosystem continues to expand, so, too, does the threat landscape. With an exponential growth in connected devices, the need for heightened cybersecurity measures is more important than ever. This has led to some important trends in the areas of zero trust networks, layered cybersecurity, lifecycle and device management and OEMs.

Zero trust networks. To counter the high risk of a permeable network, companies are adopting the philosophy of “never trust, always verify” everyone and everything trying to connect to their systems, before granting access. In zero trust networks, the identity of an entity is veri- fled multiple times in different ways, depending on its behavior and the sensitivity of speciflc data in the network being ac cessed. Network micro-segmentation lets businesses apply varying levels of security to specific parts of the network where more critical data resides. Granular network perimeter security – based on users and devices, their physical locations, and other identifying data – determines whether their credentials can be trusted to access the network.

Layered cybersecurity. Another trend gaining traction is hardening a device’s operating core where sensitive information such as end-user data, log-in credentials and network access certificates reside. In the coming year, I expect more manufacturers will be incorporating chipsets encoded with protective features like device identification to prevent port hijacking, secure boot and signed firmware checking to prevent unauthorized or malicious downloads. They’ll be implementing a more layered approach to cybersecurity so that each layer of hardware and software shields the layer below with additional security features. To further reduce cyber vulnerability, we’ll see more manufacturers automating procedures to ensure that customers implement changes, upgrades, and patches throughout their ecosystems in a timely manner.

Device management and lifecycle management. Two other aspects of cybersecurity coming to the forefront are individual device management and comprehensive lifecycle management of the entire surveillance solution. With cyberattacks becoming increasingly numerous and sophisticated, it’s becoming even more important for manufacturers, integrators and end users to work together to institute consistent hardware, software and user policies that conform to cybersecurity best practices and continue over the lifetime of the ecosystem and its individual components.

Fewer OEM relationships. OEM partnerships will become less common as it is difficult for the end-user to know the real manufacturer, which is a must for valid cybersecurity processes.


Billions of devices are already connected to the network and this number continues to increase exponentially. With all that potential computing power at the edge, there’s more momentum for manufacturers to harness that in-camera resource to help customers detect and identify threats, and make split-second decisions on how to mitigate them.

Driving the move to edge-based processing is the opportunity for customers to reduce system complexity and lower their operating costs. They can build faster and more scalable systems, and facilitate more complex, real-time analysis of events at the point at which they occur, which can lead to more timely response to incidents.

In the coming year we’ll likely see more powerful edge devices embedded with deep-learning processing units (DLPU). These devices will provide a perfect platform for third-party developers to create analytics based on AI and deep learning that can provide more granular object classification and more predictive behavior analysis. Furthermore, because these deep learning programs only transfer relevant video over the network, customers will be able to lower bandwidth consumption and reduce their storage needs. With the improvement in analytics accuracy, customer will also experience fewer false alarms which will lead to additional cost savings and more efficient use of human resources.


Inspired by the way the human brain processes information, manufacturers will continue the trend of building cameras embedded with deep learning processing units. Developers will be able to use these DLPUs to improve the reliability of their video analytics algorithms and enhance surveillance, security and business processes.

These deep learning tools correlate the massive amount of data collected by devices and sensors to train the analytics to better recognize patterns, classify information and make decisions by labeling and categorizing what the camera sees. While it will still take some discernment on the part of customers and integrators to separate hype from fact, the opportunities for deep learning solutions will rise as the technology matures. With continued investment in refining this learning process, I expect we’ll see dramatic increases in video analytics accuracy, and a demand for these solutions, in the coming years.


As we look towards 2021, with more processing power available in edge devices, hybrid computing solutions will become an emerging trend. Companies will be looking to implement smart architecture that directs processing tasks across the edge, core, and cloud to wherever it makes the most sense. These multi-tiered solutions will give customers the flexibility to deploy and manage their ecosystem more efficiently and more cost-effectively. The traditional client-server model alone presents limitations, inefficiencies and network performance issues due to centralized cloud servers that must respond to a multitude of device requests.

Leveraging a hybrid edge-cloud model—where central and edge computing resources are combined—can reduce cloud hosting costs, bandwidth and latency issues. With more powerful devices companies will be able to take better advantage of processing at the core, the cloud and now, the edge—essentially where another server can process significant amounts of data on the device.

As an added benefit, edge devices offer an unparalleled level of built-in cybersecurity features. Many of these devices can be managed with on-premise tools that allow users to perform device configuration, back up, firmware upgrades and manage cybersecurity controls—ensuring a greater level of security than cloud environments.


As in past years, the security industry will have its hands full mitigating the risks of cyberattacks, navigating regulations on privacy, information collection and storage, and meeting customer demands for tools that can help them be more proactive in protecting their people, property, and electronic data. But with each challenge there comes new opportunity to devise new technologies and solutions to create a smarter, safer ecosystem that can better meet customers’ security and business needs.

This article originally appeared in the November / December 2020 issue of Security Today.


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