Smart buildings have been around for years, but often focus on the building controls side, such as HVAC and energy efficiency. With an increasing interest in adding more physical and cyber security components to that mix, the role of artificial intelligence is a big topic of conversation today. k

A recently released study by IEEE, “The Impact of Technology in 2022 and Beyond: an IEEE Global Study,” included input from 350 chief technology officers, chief information officers and IT directors. Of those, 21 percent said AI and machine learning would be the most important technology in 2022. Over 50 percent said they had already accelerated their use of these technologies in 2021, largely due to the pandemic. 

Artificial intelligence can be used in a multitude of ways, from detecting cybersecurity attacks, to helping video surveillance cameras spot unusual patterns in behavior or search for specific parameters. The technology has also helped alleviate some of the challenges associated with the pandemic: from enforcing social distancing and mask wearing, to supplementing the labor shortage, to monitoring supply levels during the supply chain shortage.

At the recent virtual OPSTech21 conference organized by The Monitoring Association, Rousbeh Aminpour, principal manager, Azure Vision AI, for Microsoft Azure, delivered the keynote address, during which he focused on the expanding use of AI — including to the security monitoring world.

“There has been a lot more movement on how AI is being applied to different industries, driven by the amount of innovation and the types of breakthroughs we have seen,” he said. From cloud to edge computing there are a lot of companies participating in the AI world today, he added. 

“In areas like security and safety, in the past year or wo we are starting to see more and more impactful movements with AI to digitally transform the [monitoring] space,” he said. “We have a lot of cameras out there today mostly recording and dumping that precious information into a storage bank and people use it post-process. Historically the response as been in general either very slow, reactive, or it has been in a very manual way.”

Typically security officers sit in front of monitors or a collection of screens actively watching for events. AI can automate that and make the process much more efficient. 

“The most powerful way AI can come in is for us to improve at the observation layer, with the hope that as we speed up and offer [quicker] ability to observe in those different environments … which results in faster reaction,” Aminpour said.

Because cameras are always observing, this can significantly increase the effectiveness of the overall security of buildings and the efficiency of the security officers assigned to protect it.

But AI goes beyond cameras. Artificial intelligence can be applied to many areas of security, including access control, visitor management, intrusion and many of the other elements necessary to secure buildings. 

The IEEE study found that an overwhelming 95 percent of respondents agreed that AI will drive the majority of innovation across every industry sector in the next five years.