4th Annual Innovations and Technology Report: Awash in Tech Waters?
Archibald Putt, a 1980s channel to today’s downtrodden Dilbert, had a unique take on innovations and technology. In Putt’s Law, he observed, “Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.”
If Putt would have walked through a security industry tech exhibition in his day, the small number of corridors would have contained a lot of burglar and fire alarms, a few proprietary access control systems and hardly any security camera displays. Mention of logical security was, well, illogical.
Today, enterprise security leaders are awash in technology. Innovations seem to spill out every nanosecond or so.
FEAR OF THE NEW
And there is discernable anticipation – Or is it fear? – of what’s on the horizon.
This 4th annual Security magazine review of top influential and emerging innovations and technology boasts briefings on some of the hottest hot buttons, according to scores of end-users, integrators, consultants and manufacturers, as well as insightful virtual visits to research and development operations at big and little computer, communications and security technology firms.
The bottom line: products, systems and services are now more likely designed with the end-user’s business in mind with scalability, migration and multi-functionality firmly in mind.
“Realize, identify and understand the technology that you want to purchase and the essentials you want to address. Drill down into the exact needs to be met,” advised Sean Ahrens, project manager, Security Consulting and Design Services at Schirmer Engineering. “Eliminate the smoke and mirrors of software functionality that you ‘might’ use with the functionality that you will require."
IDENTIFY THE GAME CHANGERS
Beside the details embedded in much emerging technology, security leaders should keep a sharp eye on “game changers.”
Internet protocol or IP has proven its game changing ability with security video, access control, communications and Power over Ethernet. According to Jeremy Brecher, vice president of operations and information technology at Diebold, the introduction of virtualization is a new game changer. “You can do a lot more with a lot less hardware,” he said. And it is one more way for security to work closely productive with their IT brethren.
Another game changer, still hanging out there on security’s horizon, is the concept of the application store, pioneered on the communications side by Apple and its iPhone. Thousands of sometimes competitive, almost always inexpensive applications are for sales on the Web to extend uses of the iPhone, but also to help Apple dominate the smartphone arena. It’s a known formula with the applications as razor blades to iPhone’s handle; only the financials have been flipped with the handle much more expensive than those individual application “blades.”
That may also be security’s future: systems integrators and manufacturers with their own Web-based application stores.
METRICS AND TECH ASSESSMENTS
Of course, there can be – and should be -- method in the evaluation madness.
In an initial phase, conduct a market analysis to identify the more promising technologies, their sources, and real-life security and enterprise-wide applications. Concurrently, a technology assessment gauges the competitive advantages offered. Next, a financial evaluation assesses the new technology’s potential profitability – Not always in dollars, observed Maria Chadwick, director of surveillance at Wynn|Encore in Las Vegas – or cost savings based on the total cost of ownership. Finally, carry out a risk analysis to provide an assessment of the risks and returns associated with embracing the new
There also is the gap between expectations and deliverables.
Jim Henry of systems integrator Henry Brothers ticks off his “laws.”
“There will always be new technologies coming out to address the problems that end-users face,” he said. “That’s the first law.
“The second law is that their capabilities will always be overstated by vendors and over-anticipated by end-users. It has been that way; it always will be that way. The third law, and I guess this is the insurance policy for systems integrators, is that there never will be a single technology that is a panacea over all solutions.”
Long-time industry guru Jack F. Dowling, president/principal consultant for JD Security Consultants, agreed. He noted that end-users can get into trouble by “listening to the product ‘hype’ and not doing your own research, study and analysis of new innovations and technology.”
With another twist on innovations and technology expectations, John Centofanti with Panasonic System Solutions Company (America), added that “End-users expect security industry suppliers to provide innovative solutions to the marketplace, but often migrate toward the ‘tried-and-true’ because they are risk-averse. The best of technology across multiple market segments, all integrated into an enterprise-wide system solution, is increasingly the baseline expectation.”
For those who believe there’s nothing new under the security sun, that technologies and innovations only evolve or are grabbed and tweaked from other disciplines, well, there’s some truth in that.
Author Fredrik Nilsson, who’s also general manager of Axis Communications, uses terms such as “more” and “better” and “less” as in less expensive and “a leap” many times more often than “new” these days. That is except when it comes to a concept that’s fairly new to security, IT and consumer services: hosted video. For security, “the technology is there – bandwidth, compression, at the edge analytics with storage becoming fairly inexpensive,” he contended. “It’s a way for end-users to save money and a way for Web-based others to make money.”
Enterprise security leaders polled for this cover story tend to concur with Dowling when it comes to steps which effectively evaluate innovations and technology. His comments include:
- Research the product - does it work as advertised?
- Is the technology what you really need?
- Check with beta or current users -- what are their experiences?
- Does the technology integrate with your other systems?
- Is it open architecture and expandable?
- What is the return on investment and total cost of ownership?
- Will the technology replace an existing security measure and how will it perform more efficiently and cost effectively than the current feature?
What follows and compiled by the author for Security magazine and SDM magazine is a security-centric intelligence report spotlighting innovations and technologies emerging or on-the-horizon. While not claiming to be a complete list, the material comes from research firms, search efforts and input from end-users, integrators, consultants and manufacturers.
THE VIRTUE OF VIRTUALIZATION
It’s the latest in a long line of technical innovations designed to increase the level of system abstraction and enable IT users to harness ever-increasing levels of computer performance. At its simplest level, virtualization allows security and IT, virtually and cost-effectively, to have two or more computers, running two or more completely different environments, on one piece of hardware.
“In a practical sense one of the most important developments has been the virtualization of video management systems,” said Jason Oakley, CEO at North American Video (NAV). “This allows users to run multiple ‘virtual machines’ on the same physical server. This not only reduces hardware cost associated with an IP upgrade but also has favorable productivity and environmental impacts related to reduced footprint, lower power draw and reduced air-conditioning requirements. Many companies and government organizations have green initiatives and this technology fits in well with those plans.”
Impact: For systems integrators, more can be up and running without adding too much to the computer infrastructure. Security end-users can more easily accommodate legacy systems as well as IP upgrades.
STANDARDS, OPEN SYSTEMS AND NEW TECHNOLOGY
In certain cases, standards established or embraced by recognized computer, communications, life safety and security organizations can encourage development of new technology. They can also save money.
There are numerous standards-setting bodies: the Security Industry Association, Open Network Video Interface Forum, Physical Security Interoperability Alliance, American National Standards Institute and the IEEE, to name a few. All can make a difference.
Overall, standards can also “backward affect” the playing field. “Not so much new technology as the refinement and standardization of existing technologies. With regards to IP cameras, the day will come when manufacturers will all meet a similar criterion and interoperability much like NTSC did for the analog CCTV world,” said Ahrens.
Impact: Well-crafted standards, with involvement by manufacturers, integrators and end-users, can encourage new technology advances as well as more comfort in the specification and purchase of products, systems and services.
SURFACE COMPUTING’S GOT INTERACTIVE TOUCH
Jeff Schneider, director of advanced technology for Telos Secure Networks Group, has a tough job. One task is to keep up-to-date on voice, data and video networking solutions to support defense and first responder missions. “From an applications standpoint, the future is heavily into mobile devices,” he said. However, among scores of R&D projects he views as growingly important is surface computing, a term for the use of a specialized computer graphical user interface in which traditional elements are replaced by intuitive, everyday objects. Instead of a keyboard and mouse, the user interacts directly with a touch-sensitive screen. It has been said that this more closely replicates the familiar hands-on experience of everyday object manipulation.
Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer pointed out that surface turns an ordinary tabletop into “a vibrant, dynamic surface that provides effortless interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. People can interact with content and information on their own or collaboratively. Surface is a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that small groups can use at the same time. Surface also features the ability to recognize physical objects that have identification tags similar to barcodes.”
In addition to surface computing, “the future of user interfaces could also include a wider variety of graphical, textual, and tactile activities,” said Gadi Piran, president and CTO with OnSSI. “Systems will likely become more intelligent and able to deduce what the user needs, bordering on development of so-called zero-input interfaces that provide information to the user based on sensors rather than direct interaction. User interfaces of the future will more likely take into account human psychology and physiology. In fact, ‘direct neural interfaces,’ in which messages from the brain are translated to a computer, are already being used in real-life medical applications,” he added.
Impact: If it catches on, and that’s a big if, surface computing could easily become a welcome specialty tool of enterprise security executives who will see value in better managing certain situations involving objects such as buildings, floors, vehicles, cameras, doors, security officers on patrol and emergency responders. In the long run, the development may lend itself to a next-generation alarm monitoring interactive, object-oriented display. In the short run, it may pay systems integrators to bone up on surface computing advances.
PEANUTS, CRACKERJACK AND STATISTICS-CRANKING VIDEO
Move over Barry Bonds, video will be shooting up video steroids next season in a joint technology project of Sportvision and Major League Baseball Advanced Media, MLB’s Internet business. Already in beta testing at San Francisco Giant’s park, the system can pinpoint where a ball was hit, the ball’s speed and the runners throughout a play. It can also show how long it took a ball to be returned to the infield. One aim (beyond making money through fan subscriptions to the service) is to create a whole new book full of often-neglected defense statistics such as outfielders’ arm strength and base-running efficiency.
Using multiple cameras and specialty software, the system will record the exact speed and location of the ball and every player on the field. MLB team executives believe the new tech approach will affect players’ compensation and strategies during games. In San Francisco, four high-resolution cameras sit on light towers 162 feet up, capturing everything that happens on the field in three dimensions and sending images to an in-park control room. Software decides which movements are the ball, fielders and runners. Sportvision contends that more than two million meaningful location points are recorded per game.
Impact: Ports, transportation hubs, distribution centers, mall parking lots all lend themselves to the on-the-horizon technology. Security end-users working with their business colleagues will be able to provide protection while creating new types of useful productivity metrics. Systems integrators can sell across the enterprise while also making a better case for applications such as physical security information management.
UP IN THE CLOUD, AGAIN
It was a hot topic in last year’s Security magazine Annual Innovations and Tech-
nology report. As the novelty wears off, cloud computing seems more down to earth for security executives seeking to simplify.
For Brivo CEO Steve Van Till and Shayne Bates, executive vice president for global strategy, their model of Web-hosted security access control services, integrated video storage and retrieval with optional client on-site access data storage makes even more business sense in today’s economic environment.
Van Till feels there will be more software as a service in the security sector. “It will be a continued shift from a lot of expensive labor for poorly integrated products that are hard to use,” he said. The future? “It’s the creation of software and the selling of networked services,” though he doesn’t see any disruptive technologies in the near term, he added.
Impact: Systems integrators will specify, install and maintain the hardware and components while a firm provides in-the-cloud software as a service – and that could be the integrator. Enterprise security executives will better focus on the actionable information with their own growing situational awareness, metrics and across the board analytics.
SENSORS: THE FUTURE’S ALL IMAGING
While these traditional sensors and detectors have improved and advanced, the new-age buzz falls to the newer faces – image sensors. There are megapixel and high-definition image sensors that may prove to be game changers.
In another example, a three-dimensional image sensor that works in full ambient light will soon be used in conjunction with access control systems to determine whether there is one or multiple individuals passing through a door. “The 3-D image sensor will also find uses for people counting, as an elevator sensor, to trigger automatic doors and even to detect body presence for interactive user interface with digital signage,” said Centofanti with Panasonic System Solutions Company (America).
Impact: Emerging 3-D image sensors will meet the expectations of end-users seeking consumer-level image quality. For systems integrators who view security video as a top buyer need, the new technology opens up more versatile innovations and applications.
SCREENING DEVELOPMENTS BATTLE EACH OTHER
While the big bruiser, big price tag systems fit best in homeland security and airport cargo/passenger screening, there is a high-tech glimmer that may one day fit into business security use.
Impact: The advanced sensor technologies already are affecting transportation security, especially in airports. Still, mobile, small-footprint, tripod-mounted sensor systems may find a home in corporate and commercial security operations. And systems integrators, while not bundling the sensors with cameras, may be a viable future sales channel with the potential for other complementary products.
HIGH- AND LOW-TECH FIGHT COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS
OVD technologies include holography, diffraction grating imaging, liquid crystal technology and many visual variations within these categories. There’s the capability to combine multiple technologies into a single image in order to create unique OVDs with higher level security features.
Another anti-counterfeiting innovation is called DNAtex for chemicals, fibers, textiles and consumer products such as clothing or bags. DNAtex is clearly and quickly recognized by a small electronic scanner.
Impact: Look to security leaders at key enterprises to work with manufacturing colleagues and third parties to build anti-counterfeit solutions into product. Some systems integrators may see value in expanding services to include scanning devices and counterfeit reporting systems.
NO NEED FOR GPS?
The technology of locating is based on measuring power levels and antenna patterns and uses the concept that a mobile phone always communicates wirelessly with one of the closest base stations, so if you know which base station the phone communicates with, you know that the phone is close to the respective base station.
Advanced systems determine the sector in which the mobile phone resides and roughly estimate also the distance to the base station. Further approximation can be done by emerging applications that interpolate signals between adjacent antenna towers.
Impact: As cellular technologies expand and towers multiply, security leaders may see identification, location and tracking capabilities built into cellphones without the need for GPS. Cellular telephones may one day become both a graphical user interface and multi-application life safety and security platform for systems integrators to bundle and implement.
SMART GRID LOOKS TO WIRELESS MESH
And wireless mesh, especially in the 900 MHz spectrum, has emerged as a viable alternative to cellular and other types of communications for the smart grid, according to Ksenia Coffman of Firetide. The term “mesh network” refers to multipoint-to-multipoint topology, where information travels between interconnected “nodes” over multiple hops until it reaches final destination. Wireless mesh works well, since it provides multiple paths to ensure reliability and integrity of data, which is essential for the always-on needs of smart grid applications.
Impact: Whether for smart grid applications, commercial/government multi-functional communications or mobile setups, wireless mesh is a technology advance that’s both attractive to security end-users and systems integrators. For the latter, there is an easy-to-overcome learning curve specific to placement of nodes and the combining of security video, life safety alarming, access controls, VoIP and others.
TECH ASPIRIN FOR TRAFFIC JAM HEADACHES
Other functionalities are being incorporated into cellphones at a fast clip. Thanks to the iPhone and devices such as the Palm Pre, iSuppli research firm recently said that one-third of mobile phones will use accelerometers by 2010, up from one in five this year and one in 11 in 2008. Previously spotlighted by Security magazine in its Annual Innovations and Technology report, an accelerometer measures the acceleration it experiences relative to freefall. Single- and multi-axis models are available to detect magnitude and direction of the acceleration as a vector quantity, and can be used to sense orientation, vibration and shock. There are life safety applications relative to building construction and vehicle collisions for airbag deployment.
Impact: Look for accelerometers in fixed and mobile security video for image stabilization as well as inside rugged laptops to freeze the hard disk drive when dropped or bumped. For end-users and systems integrators, micro-machined accelerometers may be at the heart of new graphical user interfaces that are more a glove that can be waved, moved or twisted to display needs data or move an avatar within a 3-D floor layout.
SIGN IN (LEGALLY), PLEASE
Advances can now facilitate the verification of a person’s background through an interactive Web site. The electronic signature enhances the employment candidate experience, helps with remote recruiting and accelerates turnaround time through a paperless process. A Web-based signature is created with the computer mouse and is convenient for both applicants and employers.
Such an innovation directly relates to I-9 and employment eligibility. For example, one firm, HR Plus, has the ability to electronically sign the I-9 through a proprietary paperless signature capture technology. By using a mouse, Form I-9 can be signed electronically, which eliminates the entire paper process. With such emerging electronic signature technology, corporations and government agencies can have a signed Form I-9 electronically.
Impact: Coming into view is paperless signature capture technology that lets employers – corporate security executives, integrators and dealers – digitally check employment eligibility of job candidates.
“TEACHING” OLD SAFES NEW TRICKS
Impact: End-users at local stores or chains can work with their enterprise security leaders to implement a multi-tech design to protecting cash from POS to bank deposit.
GRAPHENE: STRENGTH BUT ONLY ONE-ATOM THICK
Graphene makes an excellent sensor due to its 2-D structure. The fact that its entire volume is exposed to its surrounding makes it very efficient to detect absorbed molecules. Molecule detection is indirect: as a gas molecule absorbs to the surface of graphene, the location of absorption experiences a local change in electrical resistance. While this effect occurs in other materials, graphene is superior due to its high electrical conductivity and low noise, which makes this change in resistance detectable.
Impact: Most applications now under development view graphene as a replacement for silicone chips inside devices. Crystal-balling potential advances, in the longer-term future may be use of the product in asset protection and intrusion detection purposes, too.
RADAR LOVE AND FORD’S FUTURE TAURUS
Applications for such emerging technology include container security, perimeter security (buildings, airport, military installations, border fences, etc.) and interior detection of motion in rooms, halls and closets. Battery powered and portable, the devices can be used in temporary installations.
Impact: Life safety is an essential mission of security executives. There may come a time soon when these execs and their facility management brothers and sisters standardize signage on a campus and in parking lots and garages for vehicle image recognition while also equipping the signs to communicate with drivers as well as existing security systems.
SHIELD TO MASK SENSITIVE ON-SCREEN INFORMATION
MAGEN treats information on the screen as a picture, and relies on optical character-recognition technology to determine which onscreen fields need to be blanked out or replaced with random values. Unlike other solutions, MAGEN does not change the software program or the data itself – it filters the information before it ever reaches the PC screen – and does not force companies to create modified copies of electronic records where information is masked, scrambled, or eliminated.
Impact: Security executives in healthcare, insurance and financial service businesses that outsource customer service and claims processing functions can hide private information so that it never appears on agents’ screens.
WHEN GROUCHO MARX ROBS THE BANK
Impact: Facial recognition, with disappointments often outrunning expectations, may prove a more effective security and business tool for security end-users and an easier sell for systems integrators.
NO SMOKE BUT MIRRORS GET FOCUSED
Impact: Gained are greater focus range and precision, a longer lifetime for MEMS mirrors, reduced mirror size and less voltage.
BLUETOOTH TRACKS THOUSANDS
Impact: Loss prevention directors at retail establishments could more easily keep track of customer numbers at different times while corporate and government security could track suspicious movements, or monitor evacuations. Systems integrators need to keep up-to-date on Bluetooth, the open wireless protocol for exchanging data over short distances from fixed and mobile devices, creating personal area networks. It was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS232 data cables. It can connect several devices, overcoming problems of synchronization.
GPS AND WIRELESS: A MARRIAGE MADE IN TECH HEAVEN
Both vendors and systems integrators are mastering the trick.
Using GPS technology, wireless communication and the Internet, emerging solutions supply quantitative information to analyze and improve asset productivity and overall construction operations, saving time, increasing physical security and eliminating unnecessary project costs. A variety of easy-to-interpret charts, reports and dashboard views provides information needed to analyze and evaluate construction operations and take action in real-time.
A case in point: the just released Trimble Construction Manager boasts fast and user-friendly maps by Google Maps API and a rugged new GPS locator unit designed for the harshest construction site environments. Google Maps street, terrain, hybrid and satellite imagery act as background for mapping sites and tracking construction assets. Faster rendering and more intuitive map controls can save time and resources while providing clearer visualization of asset placement, movement and status.
Impact: End-users can evaluate and implement bundled solutions while integrators can bundle asset management with intrusion detection and security video at construction sites for a total security and site management approach.
COLD CASES, OLD FINGERPRINTS: TRY TOUCH DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints or a recipe, or a code, since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells, such as proteins and RNA molecules. The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in regulating the use of this genetic information.
People convicted of certain types of crimes may be required to provide a sample of DNA for a database.
The touch DNA method, named for the fact that it analyzes skin cells left behind when assailants touch victims, weapons or something else at a crime scene, is just emerging. The technique has dramatically increased the number of items of evidence that can be used for DNA detection. It only requires seven or eight cells from the outermost layer of skin. Investigators recover cells from the scene or from old ink-created fingerprints on file, then use a process called polymerase chain reaction to make lots of copies of the genes. Fluorescent compounds then attach to specific locations on the DNA and give a highly specific genetic portrait of that person.
Impact: Law enforcement already relies on DNA identification but, when time counts or in the face of dwindling resources, can turn to innovative private touch DNA labs. For corporate security, touch DNA may one day be a valuable tool for investigations of intellectual property crimes, for example.
Tech Twists Keep Video Analytics Evolving
But time and advances march forward. What’s over-the-horizon today may be on the table tomorrow. Here are some varied views from analytics’ trenches.
Scott Schnell and Doug Marman of VideoIQ see value in bundling security video and analytics concepts into a more understandable and comfortable “remote guarding” solution. It combines automated event detection, built-in DVR and integrated video management into a single camera solution. Smart video analyzers act as a digital guard, transforming video surveillance into a dynamic, real-time system for early warning.
Schnell said, “Intelligence has moved from the backroom to the edge. The future will also bring more storage at the edge, too.” Marman added that smart security video will be multi-functional. “The technology will solve problems, do investigations and also other things on the business side.”
Dave Fowler of VidSys sees the trends and helps define the new ones. His technology, RiskShield, was honored with the Integrated Software, Products and Systems award at the ISC West 2009 New Product Showcase. It’s the common operating picture in the firm’s physical security information management system.
“Trend wise, in the future, there will be even more intelligence associated with the collection of information further into the network with more intelligence in a diversity of devices and less total communications but more actionable exceptions to a central point,” he said. He also sees some technology “getting cheaper. For instance, high-definition cameras allow the viewing of things that are farther away. You won’t need as many cameras and the wiring that goes with them. There also will be more peer to peer communications among devices,” Fowler said.
Cernium’s CTO Nik Gagvani views video analytics as an embedded force multiplier. “Video should not only detect the presence of things but also the activities of what is happening. Self-adaptive technology – that is where we are headed.” Gagvani’s Perceptrak video analytics software aims at enterprise-class IP video installations. Seeing a residential opportunity, the firm’s Archerfish is a mobile video intelligence solution for business owners and homeowners, too.
When it comes to emerging technologies, “integrators should not get stuck in a rut. Those who are willing to learn and focused on growth will be the winners,” advised Paul Bodell of IQinVision, who believes that, in the future, high-definition and megapixel cameras such as the company’s IQeye will be everywhere. “More individual camera coverage means fewer overall cameras while bandwidth and storage also is less.”
Concerning analytics, Bodell’s strategy centers on third parties such as Agent Vi and 3VR for elements covering people counting, virtual trip wire and face recognition and others. Still, he predicts more analytics, bigger in-camera processors and more storage. For end-users, Bodell predicts the coming of a sharp drop off in the management of systems.