As an analyst and futurist for the security industry, I am often asked to describe what’s happening in the industry – where are we and where are we going?

What are the signs of the times? And while there are many changes happening within the security industry, the predominant characteristic of the industry is that we are stuck. We are either stuck, or we are hopelessly skeptical of change. It is a frustrating state, especially when we are so close to making security a value-creating business unit of your company.

The video surveillance market is a good barometer of the willingness for an industry to change.

The Power of Ten

After VCRs were invented, it took ten years to use them for surveillance storage. After DVRs, another ten. And today, we are ten years into the age of the IP camera and still they are a novelty. It is apparent that technology decisions are driven not by business value or creative problem solving but by inertia. Doing things the way they’ve been done for years.

It is understandable, of course.

Look what an IP surveillance solution would have to overcome to be considered mainstream. Hundreds of channel partners would have to be convinced that the technology solves problems better and represents a greater opportunity for making money. Then those hundreds of channels would have to be trained in the core concepts and advanced workings of the products. The channels then have to convince prospective customers that doing things in a new and unfamiliar way – using software to display cameras or running CAT5 instead of coax – is better. And the customers have to sell the concept to their customers – the business managers – as well as the IT folks that IP video is a critical application for the enterprise.

That’s a lot of convincing.

And a lot of opportunity for foot dragging. Gee whiz, it’s just human nature to look around and wait for someone else to do it first. However, those surveillance cameras hold the key to breaking the security industry – and your career, possibly – out of the doldrums. Let me explain.

Surveillance cameras are technologies for capturing events and are deployed for many reasons: loss prevention, crime and vandalism deterrence, slip/fall evidence, traffic and crowd control and dozens of other security/safety applications. The captured video events are transmitted to monitors in command centers, or recorded on DVRs or storage arrays. The images, when viewed or collected, are data that may be used for security event management.

About the Event

Analog and network cameras, DVRs and networked storage produce security event data as do many other devices you are likely to find in your security operation, such as
  • Alarms and environmental sensors

  • Intrusion detection, physical and logical

  • Monitoring stations and command centers

  • Knowledge bases and external intelligence services

  • Trouble ticketing, dispatching systems, and problem management

  • Business continuity and emergency response software

  • Public address and notification systems
Even access control systems produce event data – resulting in what I call a deluge of data. So while security professionals have sought to solve security problems with the newest and best security technologies, they’ve ended up with this smoldering swamp of unused and sometimes unusable data.

Here’s the opportunity for you and for the industry. If managed properly, if normalized and analyzed – that data becomes information. And with information, you can create value.

Ask any business manager and he or she will tell you that data is less valuable than information, and information is the life-blood of business. So go and make something of that data. Create Value! Think of all that surveillance and access control data as information. Assemble it and respond to it using the new software tools available to you and remember that event management is security, but information management is business.