It amazes me how in a few short years security systems have gone from simple, dumb cameras witnessing events to intelligent eyes, ears, speech and touch solutions that boost situational awareness far beyond human capabilities. It seems the only senses missing from the equation now are smell and taste. And who knows, someone might be working on those in a lab somewhere right now.

But what’s really fascinating to me is how the Internet of Things (IoT) has opened a world of possibilities for transforming security technology into something new yet again. With IoT we’re able to push and pull nuggets of intelligence from sources we never considered before: environmental sensors, pressure plates, door lock timers and much more. It’s helped us break through the constraining mindset that security systems are strictly single-purpose. With interconnectivity at the core, we’re starting to imagine myriad ways to apply these tools to challenges outside the realm of security. Here are just a few examples.

Flood Management Assistance

Network camera adds another dimension and timeliness to flood management by helping responders investigate remotely

As recent hurricanes and floods have shown, water damage can be devastating to a community. That’s why some municipalities are using their city surveillance cameras in conjunction with water sensor to proactively address the problem.

Water sensors collect data from multiple sources such as rain gutters, sewer systems and pump stations, in order to monitor fluctuations in water levels and water quality. If an alert triggers, having a network camera in proximity to visually verify the situation helps responders determine the best course of action. For instance, if multiple water detection sensors trigger alerts simultaneously or sequentially over a large area it’s probably due to natural runoff from recent rainfall. But without eyes on the scene, how can you be sure?

Network camera adds another dimension and timeliness to flood management by helping responders investigate and identify the cause of a trigger remotely. It might be a fire hydrant spewing water, a water main break or even a chemical spill. With video streaming live to the command center, staff can remotely inspect the area, determine the cause of the trigger and decide whether remediation is required, thus avoiding the expense of dispatching an investigative crew to a non-event.

With video streaming live to the command center, staff can remotely inspect the area, determine the cause of the trigger and decide whether remediation is required
Some municipalities are using their city surveillance cameras in conjunction with water sensor to proactively address the problem

Environmental Control Assistance

Data centers house the lifeblood of a business so it’s no wonder why companies work hard to protect them. We’re all familiar with the integration of network cameras with access control systems to visually verify who is actually using the credentials. Network camera adds another dimension and timeliness to flood management by helping responders investigate and identify the cause of a trigger remotely

But there’s another aspect to protecting data centers and that’s environment control. Data centers need to maintain optimum humidity and temperature for the racks of electronics. When environmental sensors in the facility detect out-of-norm ranges technicians can remotely command a network camera to zoom in on the gauges and help them determine whether remediation might be necessary.

Coupling network cameras with other sensors in the data center can provide visual confirmation of other conditions as well. For instance, every time a data rack door-open-close sensor detects an event it can trigger the camera to pan to the location and stream video to security. Some data centers employ weight sensors at the doorway to weigh personnel and equipment as they enter the room and when they exit to ensure no additional hardware is being taken out of the facility or left inside without permission. Any discrepancy would trigger the camera to zoom in for a close-up of the individual’s face and send a visual alert and ID information to security.

Roadway Management And Parking Assistance

Network cameras have long played a part in city-wide traffic management. Adding video analytics and integration with network sensors, makes those cameras that much smarter and versatile. They can detect cars driving in bike lanes or driving in the wrong direction and capture license plates of offenders. Their ability to detect anomalous traffic flow patterns can be integrated with car counting sensors, networked electronic road signs and traffic light systems to automatically redirect vehicles to alternate routes.

They make great, intelligent parking lot attendants, too. Working in conjunction with weight sensors network cameras can count vehicles coming into and leaving a lot or garage and verify when the facility has reached capacity. License plate recognition and video analytics can be used to ascertain that a vehicle entering a reserved parking space doesn’t match the credentials and vehicle attributes in the database.

With the addition of noise sensors and audio analytics, network cameras can improve roadway and parking facility safety by detecting and identifying specific sounds – breaking glass, car alarms, gun shots, and aggressive speech – and triggering a visual alert to first responders.

Their ability to detect anomalous traffic flow patterns can be integrated with car counting sensors, networked electronic road signs and traffic light systems to automatically redirect vehicles to alternate routes
Network cameras can improve roadway and parking facility safety by detecting and identifying specific sounds and triggering a visual alert to first responders

Shopper Experience Assistance

In the early days of online shopping, e-tailers designed their sites to replicate the in-store customer experience. In an ironic turn of events, today brick-and-mortar stores are trying to mirror the online shopping experience. To do so, they’re turning their security systems into adjunct sales assistance. With network video and audio system automation they can recognize and acknowledge loyal customers with personal greetings. Retailers are applying people counting video analytics to checkout activity to create rules-based consistency in customer service

With heatmapping analytics they can measure how much time a customer spends in a specific department or observe how they walk through the aisles of the store. They can track shopping behaviors such as items looked at that made it into the cart or didn’t, or whether a customer actually checked out or left the merchandise behind. By capturing these shopping patterns and trends retailers can shape a more positive, more profitable customer shopping experience.

For instance, integrating video analytics with point of sale systems and RFID sensors on merchandise tags can result in timely alerts to sales associates to recommend additional merchandise. This is a case of emulating how e-tailers let the customer know that other customers who bought X often also purchased items Y and Z. Or to avoid disappointing customers due to stock outages, retailers are linking weight sensors and video analytics to make sure their shelves are well-stocked and if not, quickly alert associates to what items need to be restocked.

Capturing Business Intelligence

Retailers are also using video cameras to monitor checkout queues and trigger automated announcements over the public-address system, closed system such as smartphones or other wireless communications devices that checkers are needed rather wait for a person to call for backup. IoT laid the groundwork for network security solutions to seamlessly integrate with other IP-based technologies, sensors and programs

They’re applying people counting video analytics to checkout activity to create rules-based consistency in customer service. While retailers will always use their surveillance camera for loss prevention, they’re finding that integrating traditional technology in new ways can yield even bigger returns.

Linking network video surveillance, video analytics, network communications system and sensors with point-of-sale systems and customer loyalty databases, retailers are capturing the business intelligence they need to get back in the game and make brick-and-mortar a greater overall experience than online shopping.

A Natural Cross-Over Technology

This trend towards integration has forever changed how organizations view their investment in security technology. The intelligence and versatility of a tool that can see, verify and analyze what’s happening in real-time is spurring users to tap its cross-over potential for a host of other tasks that could benefit from more astute situational awareness – everything from manufacturing and equipment maintenance to logistics, inventory control and beyond.

IoT laid the groundwork for network security solutions to seamlessly integrate with other IP-based technologies, sensors and programs. How we capitalize on that connection is only limited by our imagination.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

Vince Ricco Business Development Manager, Axis Communications

In case you missed it

Sanitization, Safety And Getting Back To Business
Sanitization, Safety And Getting Back To Business

You are not alone: operators everywhere are asking themselves what are they going to do? How are they going to get back to business, and fast? How are they going to cost-effectively operate with all the new safety requirements that have arisen as a result of COVID? How are they going to ensure it all gets done for the safety of customers and staff? How are they going to protect their brand from the negative exposure of being identified as a property with a reputation for COVID? The economic impact of COVID is expected to hit brick and mortar businesses the worst, as their businesses are dependent on people being physically present. According to a recent report by RBC, it is estimated that 70% of Americans expect to avoid public spaces, 57% of Canadians will be unwilling to attend conferences without a vaccine and 63% of people will prefer to drive vs fly.  This means, that for those of you in the business of travel, conferences, co-working spaces, retail stores, museums, art galleries, restaurants, sports arenas, hotels, cruises, airlines, resorts, theme parks, long-term care, education, etc. in the blink of an eye your approach to on-site safety just changed. To ensure your property is safe and secure, it is no longer just about access control, video surveillance and intruder alarms; it is also about sanitisation To get back to business and operating at full capacity after COVID, operations must find a way to eliminate the fear, uncertainty and doubt in the minds of their customers and employees. The affect of COVID-19 on safety and security To safely get back to business, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasis that all operations need a pandemic response planJust like cybersecurity has had a direct impact on the IT strategy and budget, COVID will have a direct hit on the operations strategy and budget. To ensure your property is safe and secure, it is no longer just about access control, video surveillance and intruder alarms; it is also about sanitization, the lines between the security and maintenance just blurred. From customers, to employees, to government regulators, to management, the focus is now on operations and the sanitization policies, procedures and actions of the team. To put this change of priority into perspective, six months ago, sanitisation was not top of mind for people. Why, because it was not a life or death issue, we had other first world problems to garner our attention. From an operations perspective if we enabled a sanitization issue to become significant enough to impact the safety of customers and staff and therefore the brand, then that was an operational choice versus a mistake. Standards for sanitisation  Just like cybersecurity has had a direct impact on the IT strategy and budget, COVID will have a direct hit on the operations strategy and budgetThe issue is, today while the operating priority of sanitization has significantly increased, it is not measured and managed to the same standard as the other safety and security concerns across a business. Also, important to consider, while people may not hold an operation liable during this first wave, we can guarantee they are not going to be as understanding during the second wave or a future pandemic. To safely get back to business, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Health and Safety regulators emphasis that all operations need a pandemic response plan and should follow these simple guidelines: Develop your plan Implement your plan Maintain and revise your plan While this sounds simple enough, keep in mind that requirements are constantly evolving and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, or at least until all the research is in. To create an emergency response plan for a pandemic, properties must first determine what needs to be sanitized. The current requirements dictate that most surfaces and objects will just need a normal routine cleaning, it is only the frequently touched surfaces and objects like light switches and COVID has changed the game and made the digital transformation of operating procedures not a ‘nice-to-have’ but a must-havedoorknobs that will need to be cleaned and then disinfected to further reduce the risk of germs on surfaces and objects. The challenge is when you step back and consider what people touch in a day; the list quickly grows. After only 30 minutes, I easily came up with a list of over 60 items that one could call ‘high touch’! If you think about it, the list is extensive; telephones, doorknobs, drawer handles, counters, pens, keypads, computers, etc. and the list is only going to get longer as the research comes in.   The challenge is when you step back and consider what people touch in a day; the list quickly grows Operating efficiency  If we don’t change our ways, not only will we be doomed to continue making the same mistakes, but we will continue to be lost in paper and filing cabinetsTo scope the impact on operations as part of the plan, we must then find and identify all of those high touch things across the property. If we then combine that with the fact that CDC requires that all high touch locations must not only be cleaned more often, but that they also require that each location is first cleaned with soap and water, and then disinfected for one minute before finally being wiped down. This means a one-minute task just turned into a 4-minute task, that must now be completed multiple times a day. From a resourcing perspective this adds up quickly, and operating efficiency must be a priority. Not to mention it is going to get very complicated to measure and manage especially. Post COVID rules Getting back to business is going to be complicated; lots to do, lots of moving parts and no technology to help. The fundamental challenge to keep in mind is not that the sanitization requirements have evolved, the real issue is that for most businesses this area has been left unchanged for generations. Still today most rely on checklists, logbooks and inspections to manage the responsibilities of our front-line workers, which might have been fine before COVID. Post-COVID the rules have changed and so should the approach to managing physical operating compliance on the front lines. COVID like most physical operating requirements is tactical, detailed and specific; broad strokes, the honor system and inspections are not going to cut it. The digital transformation  COVID has changed the game and made the digital transformation of operating procedures not a ‘nice-to-have’ but a must-have. If we don’t change our ways, not only will we be doomed to continue making the same mistakes, but we will continue to be lost in paper, filing cabinets filled with checklists, never to be seen again. Only with the right data can we significantly improve the operational decisions necessary to accelerate our return to full operating capacity. At the end of the day, to fully recover, operations must eliminate the fear, uncertainty and doubt in the minds of customers and employees, only then can we really get back to business.

Which Security Technology Is Most Misunderstood, And Why?
Which Security Technology Is Most Misunderstood, And Why?

The general public gets much of its understanding of security industry technology from watching movies and TV. However, there is a gap between reality and the fantasy world. Understanding of security technologies may also be shaped by news coverage, including expression of extreme or even exaggerated concerns about privacy. The first step in addressing any challenge is greater awareness, so we asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Which security industry technology is most misunderstood by the general public and why?

Lessons Learned With Vanderbilt: How Have You Adapted To The COVID-19 Pandemic?
Lessons Learned With Vanderbilt: How Have You Adapted To The COVID-19 Pandemic?

With the postponement of tradeshows and events due to the effects of COVID-19, Vanderbilt and ComNet have taken their high quality, innovative solutions online, directly to their customer base. Through an Online Events and Training resource, you can stay connected with the brands’ top resources and products, as well as join upcoming product webinars hosted by their in-house experts. With a majority of the world currently working from home, businesses must respond to this changing landscape. As such, Vanderbilt and ComNet have turned to online resources to share new product demonstrations and other company news. One cornerstone of the ACRE brands approach was the launch of their Online Events and Training resource page. Ross Wilks, Head of Marketing Communications at Vanderbilt, credits this online resource as the anchor to their communicative success with customers at present. “Through weekly webinars delivered by our in-house experts, Vanderbilt and ComNet have embraced more virtual opportunities to continuously communicate to our customers regarding our latest and most relevant products,” he says. “To date, our webinars have covered a wide range of industry topics such as Why Physical Security and Cloud go together, and The most recent developments in card cloning and reader hacking. Attendance to these online events has proved popular and effective in keeping communication with our customer base open and engaging.” Each webinar ends with a Q&A section, as well as follow-up articles on the most asked questions, plus recordings of the webinars being made available to attendees. As such, the webinar approach has proven a receptive approach for Vanderbilt and ComNet. The Online Events and Training resource acts as a one-stop-shop for all virtual information. Overall, the page outlines the brands’ value-added resources for customers, including the ability to request a remote product demonstration, the availability of free online training, 24/7 access to the Vanderbilt webshop, plus the aforementioned weekly webinars. Vanderbilt and ComNet’s business mantra is built on a foundation of customer-focused core values such as empowerment, collaboration, and high performance and Wilks credits this mentality with their ability to keep information flowing to their base during the present pandemic. “The ACRE brands moved early to kick-start online webinars and ramp up awareness of their already existing online training and shopping options. Now more than ever, it is important to keep customers up to date on the latest offerings,” Wilks explains. “Our commitment has always been to make their customer’s security journey the best possible experience, and that is what this Online Events and Learning page primarily focuses on,” he concludes.