How Do Hardware Improvements Drive Better Physical Security?
14 Aug 2020
New software developments have dominated technology innovation in the physical security industry for years, making more things possible to the benefit of integrators and end users. However, hardware is another important piece of the puzzle. No matter how great your software, the system doesn’t perform unless the hardware works too. In our enthusiasm over software developments, let’s not overlook the latest in the hardware world. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How do hardware improvements drive better physical security?
Hardware improvements precipitate software advances. As processing power rises, we are better able to reach a key goal of using hardware in physical security and technology as an effective force multiplier. Advanced cameras are able to interpret visual data in real-time and provide alerts with actionable information to the security department. Edge and cloud analytics can filter and allow quick incident searches on large amounts of forensic video using multiple search parameters with object classification. Correlation of transaction data and video analytics allows for fraudulent ATM activity to be detected in real-time, enabling immediate intervention, like a virtual guard watching each transaction. Security systems will soon be able to identify behavioral anomalies in groups and open spaces to alert humans to potential threats. As the total number of security sensors climbs, we rely on those systems to tell us when something actionable is happening.
Moore's Law states that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles about every two years, whilst continually becoming cheaper. This increase in power for reduced costs is a key benefit to the evolution and improvement of physical security systems. This has borne fruit in systems that employ greater machine learning at the edge of the network and increased remote monitoring, which continues to improve on already impressive performance. Systems will inevitably continue to become more powerful, but for less cost, as they continue to evolve. Another important benefit is reliability. More powerful systems have greater redundancy to deal with problems or faults and to ensure security systems are less likely to fail. This also ensures that systems last longer, provider better ROI as well as greater of peace of mind. In turn, this increases the scope and possibilities of the technology.
The ability of hardware to provide clear video data is paramount for today's modern enterprises. In the case of camera technology, hardware improvements drive the ability to create better images and video data used to enhance situational awareness. 360-degree and wide-angle video, for example, produce very high-resolution images. While this is required to process them for streaming and analytics, some capabilities of the cameras are very much limited by the hardware they are built on. As a manufacturer, we work very closely with our hardware vendors on their roadmaps and their latest offerings and spend an incredible amount of time choosing the right components for our cameras: extremely high-quality fisheye lenses, high-speed light-sensitive sensors, and powerful CPUs that will allow us to process video efficiently and run features like low-light enhancement, improved HDR capabilities, compression technologies and analytics algorithms smoothly and at much higher framerates than seen before.
Hardware improvements are essential to bringing better physical security solutions to the end user. Better cameras mean higher resolutions and more efficient investigations. Better alarm detection devices mean safer people and assets. At Interface, we spent years researching the right audio hardware for our interactive “Virtual Security Guard” monitoring solution. The service combines live video surveillance with two-way audio from our trained monitoring professionals. The audio hardware was mission-critical. It had to be fast, clear and easy for our operators to project audio over different speakers in different areas of our customers’ stores. When a customer employee needs help, we must be able to react quickly, and audio is how they know we are engaged. We partnered with a supplier to develop a custom VoIP intercom system that turned out to be our best audio system ever. It was a true game-changer for securing our customers and their employees.
Physical security is more of a priority than ever, and the hardware deployed for security is being pushed to its limits. Software developers are working to develop solutions that would utilise old hardware and running into roadblocks, due to the limitations of cheap or outdated devices. Hardware improvements are as important as the physical security devices in a building. If the hardware is not efficient or durable, then the whole security solution is in jeopardy. Improving the hardware around physical security increases the performance and reliability of the install, and it ensures they are less vulnerable to failure and downtime. Simple improvements to your hardware are the cornerstone of any security system. Hardware is the origin of everything – from a simple sensor, switch or keypad. If your hardware is old, so is your solution.
The bottom line: Better hardware means better data, which strengthens the intelligence that software provides. In the case of access control readers and credentials, the various improvements made for ease-of-use, mobility and security make the data being collected more reliable and easier to incorporate into an overall software-based access management system. This improved data means businesses have the ability to convert data into real-time intelligence, such as the ability to collect occupancy levels within a facility, gauge the use of various rooms or parts of a building, or, when incorporated with AI-driven video, the ability to decipher whether tailgating or door tampering has occurred. All of this is made possible through hardware improvements to deliver more reliable data.
Security is more critical than ever – especially in healthcare facilities to enable visibility into who is accessing the building around the clock. The recent COVID-19 crisis has not only shifted risks, but it has increased the pace at which security is being challenged. Hardware improvements can pave the way for more modern physical security strategies such as AI and machine learning capabilities. For example, consider a hospital with outdated surveillance cameras. In the event of a security incident, this may lead to unclear footage, which hinders identification efforts and results in time lost due to manual reviewing of footage. To lay the foundation for a smarter security strategy, cameras and monitors should be updated to both improve the visibility of the resulting footage and enable the layering in of other components, such as data analytics, necessary for the implementation of technologies like AI and machine learning.
There are several hardware improvements that enable better physical security, primarily the increase in processing power and memory on devices. These advancements make it possible to have forensic-level capabilities available in real time instead of after the fact, such as instantly identifying all the red cars in multiple parking lots, with a higher level of accuracy. Modern analytics algorithms, for example, are able to identify objects and events of interest more quickly. Additionally, many IP cameras are now equipped with powerful neural network accelerators, which enable AI and machine learning technologies to analyse more quickly and with more accuracy. Finally, network connectivity – meaning more network devices in your space all connected together – can detect breaches in physical security more quickly. This is all made possible through the integration and automation of devices with more processing power. Going forward, image sensors may also become smarter through the use of integrated AI.
For video cameras, there are many instances where hardware improvements advance physical security in ways that software alone cannot. Cybersecurity enhancements are an important example of hardware improvements that protect corporate networks from attack. Since threats continuously evolve, designing hardware that creates a firewall between accessing a camera’s features and the camera’s operating system itself makes it difficult for hackers to gain access and exploit the network. Hardware improvements, such as Hanwha Techwin’s continuously evolving Wisenet SoC technology, deliver clearer, forensic-level image quality in all lighting conditions. Hardware improvements can also enable more powerful software to run on the edge, such as advanced algorithms that perform face mask detection or occupancy monitoring with no server required. These hardware improvements keep costs lower and drive better physical security outcomes for everyone without sacrificing quality. Likewise, these same hardware advancements benefit servers and appliances like DVR and NVRs in the same way.
Better hardware empowers better software functionality, whether by providing greater processing power or more memory on devices. The latest in hardware provides more and better sensors and edge devices and more powerful systems overall. Hardware selection is especially important because hardware components may be prone to failure and cannot be updated as easily as software. Finally, hardware helps to enhance cybersecurity, which is critical to the latest connected systems.
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