The shops are getting busy, and, depending on which hemisphere you live in, it’s either time to turn on the central heating or break out the shorts and shades. But it’s also time to look ahead to 2017 and wonder what it might have in store for us.
On a global level the world is going through turbulent times, with conflicts, political uncertainty, an ongoing refugee crisis and a somewhat fragile economic recovery from the most recent financial downturn. At the same time, technological developments continue unabated, with high-speed networks, big data and deep learning moving beyond that initial phase of just being marketing buzz words to enabling new and improved security offerings. Similarly, we expect the so-called ‘Internet of Things’ to be much less of a novelty and more of the fabric of our daily lives. However, that means manufacturers of internet-enabled devices will have to step up and take much more responsibility for the level of default security they ship with. All of these factors are likely to fuel demand for increased security, both physical and online.
Security as a Service
As many other technologies have done, we expect customers will stop looking at physical security as simply being a collection of hardware and software connected to a network. Instead, we think they will start to see their security as a service – remote and professionally hosting and monitoring of video transmitted from the customer’s premise. Whether by themselves, or more likely by sector-specific specialists who can not only take away the burden of managing the complex systems involved, but also reduce the costs of keeping those systems up to date and secure. This will not only free up internal resources which could be better focused elsewhere, but also improve the service level of the security system, enable better device management, and strengthen cyber security processes. On the topic of cyber security, we see an increased use of tools and practices that make network video a less vulnerable to attacks. In general, wider use of pre- and post-installation tools (such as Axis Site Designer, for example) will help in on-going monitoring and maintenance of systems.
The security industry will continue its trends of offering more specific solutions to particular problems, rather than one-size fits all hardware/software. In the end, customers aren’t looking to buy a camera, or a video management system (VMS) – what they really want is to reduce shoplifting, or make sure only certain people can access the cash office, or keep track of potential threats in an airport. Although the word ‘solutions’ gets bandied around by technology companies a lot, for once this really is the most apt term. The convergence of hardware and software as well as pre-installation and post-installation tools as mentioned above, into end-to-end solutions will be able to address specific security problems. They will consist of high-performance cameras, storage and access controls tightly integrated with video management and analytics tools. This approach will be easier for customers to purchase, install and implement, while offering a great return on their investment.
Expanded Use of Analytics
As part of this, we see that while high quality video footage is a core feature of modern security cameras, ultimately that information needs to be assessed and analyzed before a decision can be made to respond to its content. The recent advances in camera technologies, such as thermal imaging and enhanced low-light capabilities have been significant steps forward. But in the end, they just generate more footage that needs to be watched/reviewed. So, much like how tools have been developed to sift through the huge pools of numerical/text data that is being captured every day, the security industry has been working hard on video analytics software that can work in real time to help professionals make informed decisions. We expect to see 2017 as the year when these new camera capabilities are combined with real-time analytics to address several security challenges, including facial recognition, forensic analysis and perimeter protection.
With all this data being gathered, we are seeing deep learning technologies coming to the fore. These use pattern recognition software to ‘learn’ about different kinds of behaviors as seen through the multitude of security cameras installed around the world. Techniques involving deep learning and artificial intelligence will see broader utilization within the security industry. The benefits are that although all customers are different, the environments and locations they are based intend to fall into the same general categories, with people exhibiting the same general behaviors. Once those behaviors have been ‘learned’ the patterns that underlie them can be shared, enabling the system to flag up when something unexpected occurs. We see this as only the beginning and a very exciting space to keep an eye on.
However, we know that physical security doesn’t just involve surveillance of people/places/objects. It is also about physical access control, one and two-way communication and managing emergency situations – and often managing this from a significant distance. So, to extend the concept of integration even further, 2017 should be the year when security cameras work hand in glove with intelligent doors, intercoms and speakers, both locally and remotely. That means one simple system that can manage them all, in real time – enabling customers to see, hear and talk to the people in/near their buildings.
As mentioned above ‘The Internet of Things’ has evolved from buzzword status to mainstream reality, but not without its challenges. While we still think the idea of millions of IP-enabled devices is an exciting prospect for the future, 2016 gave us a sobering reminder of the pitfalls of not properly securing all those internet-connected fridges, DVRs and unfortunately security cameras. Given that most of those devices are just plugged in and switched on by customers, it is down to manufacturers to take responsibility to ensure they are secure out of the box. Axis has always taken its customers’ security seriously, but we will hopefully see 2017 as the year when all manufacturers make this a priority. We will continue to strengthen our existing offerings and make it easier for our customers to keep their networks and devices secure.
We think the Internet of Things should be about better security, and more efficient businesses, organizations and cities thanks to “smart” cameras, door stations and audio equipment with network connectivity. 2017 will add more ‘smarts’ to those devices, while also enabling customers to focus on what they do best and allowing security specialists to improve the services they provide.