From satellite imagery to street views to indoor mapping, technology has disrupted our past world. This has left us dependent upon new ways to visualise large spaces. This new world has brought many benefits and risks. But what does that mean for the security professional or facility manager today and what technologies can be used to secure buildings and improve facility operations?

A Brief History Of 3D Technology

Starting May 5, 2007 (inception 2001), Google rolled out Google Street View to augment Google Maps and Google Earth; documenting some of the most remote places on earth using a mix of sensors (Lidar/GSP/Radar/Imagery). The mission to map the world moved indoors May 2011 with Google Business Photos mapping indoor spaces with low cost 360° cameras under the Trusted Photographer program. In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialization, expensive hardware and unavailable computing power

With the growth of 3D laser scanning from 2007 onwards, the professional world embraced scanning as effective method to create digitised building information modeling (BIM), growing fast since 2007. BIM from scanning brought tremendous control, time and cost savings through the design and construction process, where As-Built documentation offered an incredible way to manage large existing facilities while reducing costly site visits.

In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialization, expensive hardware, unavailable computing power and knowledge of architectural software. Innovation during the past 8 year, have driven ease of use and lower pricing to encourage market adoption.

Major investments in UAVs in 2014 and the commercial emergence of 360° photography began a new wave of adoption. While 3D scanners still range from $20K – $100K USD, UAVs can be purchased for under $1K USD and 360° cameras for as low as $100. UAVs and 360° cameras also offer a way to document large spaces in a fraction of the time of terrestrial laser scanners with very little technical knowledge.  Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors

The result over the past 10+ years of technology advancement has been a faster, lower cost, more accessible way to create virtual spaces. However, the technology advances carry a major risk of misuse by bad actors at the same time.

What was once reserved to military personal is now available publicly. Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors. Al Qaeda terror threats using Google Maps, 2007 UK troops hit by terrorists in Basra, 2008 Mumbai India attacks, 2016 Pakistan Pathankot airbase attacks, ISIS attacks in Syria using UAVs, well-planned US school shootings and high casualty attacks show evidence that bad actors frequently leverage these mapping technologies to plan their attacks.

The weaponization of UAVs is of particular concern to the Department of Homeland Security: "We continue to face one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organizations exploit the internet to inspire, enable or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist acts."

 Renovations, design changes and office layout changes leave facility managers with the wrong information, and even worse is that the wrong information is shared with outside consultants who plan major projects around outdated or wrong plans
Example comparison of reality capture on the left of BIM on the right. A $250 USD 360° camera was used for the capture in VisualPlan.net software

What Does This Mean For The Security Or Facility Manager Today?

An often overlooked, but critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing. Most facilities managers today work with outdated 2D plan diagrams or old blueprints which are difficult to update and share.Critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing

Renovations, design changes and office layout changes leave facility managers with the wrong information, and even worse is that the wrong information is shared with outside consultants who plan major projects around outdated or wrong plans. This leads to costly mistakes and increased timelines on facility projects. 

Example Benefits Of BIM

There could be evidence of a suspect water value leak which using BIM could be located and then identified in the model without physical inspection; listing a part number, model, size and manufacture. Identification of vulnerabilities can dramatically help during a building emergency.

First Responders rely on facilities managers to keep them updated on building plans and they must have immediate access to important building information in the event of a critical incident. Exits and entrances, suppression equipment, access control, ventilation systems, gas and explosives, hazmat, water systems, survival equipment and many other details must be at their fingertips. In an emergency situation this can be a matter of life or death.

Example Benefit Of Reality Capture

First Responders rely on facilities managers to keep them updated on building plans A simple 360° walk-through can help first responders with incident preparedness if shared by the facility manager. Police, fire and EMS can visually walk the building, locating all critical features they will need knowledge of in an emergency without ever visiting the building. You don’t require construction accuracy for this type of visual sharing. This is a solution and service we offer as a company today.

Reality capture is rapidly becoming the benchmark for facility documentation and the basis from which a security plan can be built. Given the appropriate software, plans can be easily updated and shared.  They can be used for design and implementation of equipment, training of personnel and virtual audits of systems or security assessments by outside professionals.

Our brains process visual information thousands of times faster than text. Not only that, we are much more likely to remember it once we do see it. Reality capture can help reduce the need for physical inspections, walk-throughs and vendor site-visits but more importantly, it provides a way to visually communicate far more effectively and accurately than before. But be careful with this information. You must prevent critical information falling into the hands of bad actors.

You must watch out for bad actors attempting to use reality capture as a threat, especially photo/video/drones or digital information and plans that are posted publicly. Have a security protocol to prevent and confront individuals taking photos or video on property or flying suspect drones near your facility and report to the authorities. Require authorization before capturing building information and understand what the information will be used for and by who.There are a number of technologies to combat nefarious use of UAVs today

Nefarious Use Of UAVs

There are a number of technologies to combat nefarious use of UAVs today, such as radio frequency blockers and jammers, drone guns to down UAVs, detection or monitoring systems. Other biometrics technologies like facial recognition are being employed to counter the risk from UAVs by targeting the potential operators.

UAVs are being used to spy and monitor for corporate espionage and stealing intellectual property. They are also used for monitoring security patrols for the purpose of burglary. UAVs have been used for transport and delivery of dangerous goods, delivering weapons and contraband and have the ability to be weaponised to carry a payload.Investigating reality capture to help with accurate planning and visualization of facilities is well worth the time

The Federal Aviation Administration has prevented UAV flights over large event stadiums, prisons and coast guard bases based on the risks they could potentially pose, but waivers do exist. Be aware that it is illegal today to use most of these technologies and downing a UAV, if you are not Department of Justice or Homeland Security, could carry hefty penalties.

Facility managers must have a way to survey and monitor their buildings for threats and report suspicious UAV behaviours immediately to authorities. At the same time, it’s critical to identify various potential risks to your wider team to ensure awareness and reporting is handled effectively. Having a procedure on how identify and report is important.

Investigating reality capture to help with accurate planning and visualization of facilities is well worth the time. It can help better secure your facilities while increasing efficiencies of building operations. Reality capture can also help collaboration with first responders and outside professionals without ever having to step a foot in the door. But secure your data and have a plan for bad actors who will try to use the same technologies for nefarious goals.

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

Author profile

In case you missed it

Security Technology And AI: A Powerful Duo In The Fight Against COVID-19
Security Technology And AI: A Powerful Duo In The Fight Against COVID-19

A person infected with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) infects an average of 2.5 other people within five days. You do not need to be a mathematician to realize that early detection of infected people is key to successful pandemic containment. The aim of effective containment strategies is therefore not so much to reduce the number of absolute cases as it is to extend the time frame within which they occur. Without effective containment measures, the virus spreads rapidly and is beyond the capacity of the health care system. However, if infection rates can be minimized through early detection and rapid, targeted identification of further infections, cases will continue to occur over a longer period of time and remain within the capacity of the health care system. Identifying, testing and results For example, the goal of many countries is to carry out as many Corona tests as possible to quickly identify infected people. It is then necessary to identify and reach potentially-infected people and isolate them in quarantine. This is a tried and tested procedure. But this method also costs valuable time in the fight against the virus and has many unknowns. The determination of a concrete test result alone sometimes takes up to 48 hours due to limited laboratory capacity. Added to this is the imprecise and slow procedure for determining contact persons. Or do you still remember exactly who and where you shook hands with in the last ten days - and could you provide information on this? Security technology to the rescue When it comes to the time factor, security technology can be a great help. Thermal imaging cameras and temperature sensors, for example, can help to detect a person with elevated body temperatures. Fever can also be one of the symptoms in those infected with the Coronavirus. At neuralgic points such as airports and train stations, or at entrances to hospitals, thermal imaging cameras can quickly reveal which people have fever. Presumably infected people can be easily separated and asked about other symptoms. Physical security technology can make a great contribution here. Dr. Frank Gillert, a professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Wildau, Germany states, however, as one of the leading scientists for logistics-centric security research, he demands "rapid innovation in dealing with situations like COVID-19 should be a priority". He sees enormous potential in the possibilities of IT and artificial intelligence; "We should use the disruptive changes that are currently taking place and that are challenging global orders to strengthen the significance in IT infrastructure development and also in security technology development.“ The goal in a global crisis And he is right: In global crises such as the Corona pandemic, security-related deficits become apparent and space is created for technical innovations. The goal of governments and companies is to restore security and save human lives as quickly as possible. The German data analytics powerhouse G2K, for example, has developed a Corona Detection & Containment System (CDCS) that is ready for immediate use in record time. Detection takes place in combination with AI-supported data analysis to specifically identify virus hotspots and distribution routes, as well as to identify other potentially infected persons. When developing the system, the focus was on two questions: How do I detect a suspected infected person in crowded environments and even more importantly, how do I quickly and comprehensively determine the person's contacts and previous whereabouts, and find correlations and patterns in this information? The data experts of the Berlin-based company found the answer in the combination of physical security technology and their existing data analytics platform. The G2K system The system is based on G2K's scalable IoT platform "Situational Awareness Builder" (SAB), which is already in use in several projects worldwide and sets standards in process automation and process optimization, including security management. As soon as a person with fever is detected by the system, he or she can be immediately screened to avoid contact with other people and thus prevent possible new infections, i.e. to interrupt the chain of infection. For this purpose, stationary thermal imaging cameras or smartphones equipped with a temperature sensor accessory can be used. The potentially infected person must now be registered and referred to a doctor or hospital for further specific diagnostic measures. The entire process is covered by a mobile G2K application. A combination of security and medicine The platform can bring together available hospital capacity, infection reports, movement and contact profiles and provide an excellent picture of the source of infection. Thus, medically necessary isolations can be implemented quickly. At the same time, infected patients can use the app to document their recovery and become actively involved. All this data is centrally managed and analysed, using deep learning methods. This provides crisis managers with a single monitoring, control and resource management tool that enables immediate action to be taken to combat the spread of the virus and gives officials full transparency on the status of the pandemic. Karsten Neugebauer, founder and CEO of the company behind the solution, explains his commitment as follows "A few weeks ago we too were faced with increasing difficulties due to the Corona crisis. As we have a strong presence in Europe in particular, we had to struggle with postponed project starts and limited resources". But instead of burying their heads in the sand, G2K's dedicated team decided to declare war on the virus." "In our entrepreneurial duty, we, therefore, decided to use our available technology and equip it to fight COVID-19. Our team has been working day and night over the last few weeks to expand our software platform to enable us to contain the pandemic quickly and effectively. Politicians must now immediately push ahead with the unbureaucratic implementation of prevention and control measures such as our CDCS to ensure the stability of our public systems," demands Karsten Neugebauer. The pandemic continues As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads from continent to continent, researchers around the world are working to develop antidotes to the virus. As long as this has not been found, the spread of the virus must be slowed down internationally. Only by this can system-relevant infrastructure be held consistently. Combining modern physical security technology with platform technology and artificial intelligence provides an excellent possibility to slow down the current and for sure, future pandemics.

Face Recognition: Privacy Concerns and Social Benefits
Face Recognition: Privacy Concerns and Social Benefits

News reports and opinion columns about face recognition are appearing everyday. To some of us, the term sounds overly intrusive. It even makes people shrink back into their seats or shake their head in disgust, picturing a present-day dystopia. Yet to others, face recognition presents technology-enabled realistic opportunities to fight, and win, the battle against crime. What are the facts about face recognition? Which side is right? Well, there is no definitive answer because, as with all powerful tools, it all depends on who uses it. Face recognition can, in fact, be used in an immoral or controversial manner. But, it can also be immensely beneficial in providing a safe and secure atmosphere for those in its presence.  Concerns of facial recognition With the increased facial recognition applications, people’s concerns over the technology continuously appear throughout news channels and social media. Some of the concerns include: Privacy: Alex Perry of Mashable sums up his and most other peoples’ privacy concerns with face recognition technology when he wrote, “The first and most obvious reason why people are unhappy about facial recognition is that it's unpleasant by nature. Increasing government surveillance has been a hot-button issue for many, many years, and tech like Amazon's Rekognition software is only making the dystopian future feel even more real”. Accuracy: People are worried about the possibilities of inaccurate face detection, which could result in wrongful identification or criminalization. Awareness: Face recognition software allows the user to upload a picture of anyone, regardless of whether that person knows of it. An article posted on The Conversation states, “There is a lack of detailed and specific information as to how facial recognition is actually used. This means that we are not given the opportunity to consent to the recording, analyzing and storing of our images in databases. By denying us the opportunity to consent, we are denied choice and control over the use of our own images” Debunking concerns  The concerns with privacy, accuracy, and awareness are all legitimate and valid concerns. However, let us look at the facts and examine the reasons why face recognition, like any other technology, can be responsibly used: Privacy concerns: Unlike the fictional dystopian future where every action, even in one’s own home, is monitored by a centralized authority, the reality is that face recognition technology only helps the security guard monitoring public locations where security cameras are installed. There is fundamentally no difference between a human security guard at the door and an AI-based software in terms of recognizing people on watchlist and not recognizing those who are not. The only difference is that the AI-based face recognition software can do so at a higher speed and without fatigue. Face recognition software only recognizes faces that the user has put in the system, which is not every person on the planet, nor could it ever be. Accuracy concerns: It is true that first-generation face recognition systems have a large margin for error according to studies in 2014. However, as of 2020, the best face recognition systems are now around 99.8% accurate. New AI models are continuously being trained with larger, more relevant, more diverse and less biased datasets. The error margin found in face recognition software today is comparable to that of a person, and it will continue to decrease as we better understand the limitations, train increasingly better AI and deploy AI in more suitable settings. Awareness concerns: While not entirely comforting, the fact is that we are often being watched one way or another on a security camera. Informa showed that in 2014, 245 million cameras were active worldwide, this number jumped to 656 million in 2018 and is projected to nearly double in 2021. Security camera systems, like security guards, are local business and government’s precaution measures to minimize incidents such as shoplifting, car thefts, vandalism and violence. In other words, visitors to locations with security systems have tacitly agreed to the monitoring in exchange for using the service provided by those locations in safety, and visitors are indeed aware of the existence of security cameras. Face recognition software is only another layer of security, and anyone who is not a security threat is unlikely to be registered in the system without explicit consent. The benefits In August 2019, the NYPD used face recognition software to catch a rapist within 24 hours after the incident occurred. In April 2019, the Sichuan Provincial Public Security Department in China, found a 13-year-old girl using face recognition technology. The girl had gone missing in 2009, persuading many people that she would never be found again. Face recognition presents technology-enabled realistic opportunities to fight, and win, the battle against crimeIn the UK, the face recognition system helps Welsh police forces with the detection and prevention of crime. "For police it can help facilitate the identification process and it can reduce it to minutes and seconds," says Alexeis Garcia-Perez, a researcher on cybersecurity management at Coventry University. "They can identify someone in a short amount of time and in doing that they can minimize false arrests and other issues that the public will not see in a very positive way". In fact, nearly 60% Americans polled in 2019 accept the use of face recognition by law enforcement to enhance public safety. Forbes magazine states that “When people know they are being watched, they are less likely to commit crimes so the possibility of facial recognition technology being used could deter crime”. Saving time  One thing that all AI functions have been proven to achieve better results than manual security is speed. NBC News writes, “Nearly instantaneously, the program gives a list of potential matches loaded with information that can help him confirm the identity of the people he’s stopped - and whether they have any outstanding warrants. Previously, he’d have to let the person go or bring them in to be fingerprinted”. Facial recognition can also be immensely beneficial in providing a safe and secure atmosphere for those in its presence With AI, instead of spending hours or days to sift through terabytes of video data, the security staff can locate a suspect within seconds. This time-saving benefit is essential to the overall security of any institution, for, in most security threat situations, time is of the utmost importance. Another way in which the technology saves time is its ability to enable employees (but not visitors) to open doors to their office in real-time with no badge, alleviating the bottleneck of forgotten badge, keycode or password. Saving money A truly high-performance AI software helps save money in many ways. First, if the face recognition software works with your pre-existing camera system, there is no need to replace cameras, hence saving cost on infrastructure. Second, AI alleviates much of the required manual security monitoring 24/7, as the technology will detect people of interest and automatically and timely alert the authorities. Third, by enhancing access authentication, employees save time and can maximize productivity in more important processes. The takeaway AI-enabled face recognition technology has a lot of benefits if used correctly. Can it be abused? Yes, like all tools that mankind has made from antiquity. Should it be deployed? The evidence indicates that the many benefits of this complex feature outweigh the small chance for abuse of power. It is not only a step in the right direction for the security industry but also for the overall impact on daily lives. It helps to make the world a safer place. 

Axis Expects Body-Worn Camera System to Expand the Technology Use Cases
Axis Expects Body-Worn Camera System to Expand the Technology Use Cases

Axis Communications has introduced a body-worn camera solution, which the company says represents a natural extension of their corporate vision, business strategy and core competence. The new body-worn cameras and other elements of the system will provide Axis new opportunities to grow by tapping into existing and new customers. The fast-growing body-worn camera market is an attractive one, and Axis sees opportunities to extend the use of body-worn cameras beyond the current core market of police and corrections officers. Private security applications for the technology include healthcare, education, banking, public venues, retail, logistics, transportation and places of worship. The new body-worn camera system was designed with Axis partners and ecosystem in mind, says Martin Gren, Founder and Director of New Projects at Axis. “We try to make it fit with existing customers.” Deploying and using the system The new body-worn camera system was designed with Axis partners and ecosystem in mind Gren says the system is easy to deploy and use. The Axis W100 camera provides 1080p images, wide dynamic range (WDR) and has dual microphones, operating 12 hours on a single charge. GPS/GNSS global satellite navigation provides location, and a six-axis gyroscope and accelerometer offer additional data beyond the video image. For example, sensors might be triggered in some situations to initiate recording.  One-bay (Axis W700) or eight-bay (Axis W701) docking stations enable high-speed supervised data offloading and battery charging, and a system controller (Axis W800) provides a central point for integration and management. Use of Zipstream compression technology saves on bandwidth and storage. Video cannot be accessed in the field, but only when a camera has been docked. There are many layers of security, and encryption protects all data used in the system from being accessed by outside agents. The USB interface cannot be connected to an ordinary computer but only to the docking station. Open standards Open standards ensure easy integration with video management systems and/or evidence management systems, whether on-premises or in the cloud. At the time of release, the Axis body-worn camera system is already integrated with Milestone XProtect, Genetec Security Center, and Axis Camera Station VMSs. It is also integrated with the Genetec Clearance cloud-based evidence management system. An application programming interface (API) will facilitate additional integrations over time.  The body-worn cameras will be sold through the current Axis channels The body-worn cameras will be sold through the current Axis channels of distributors, systems integrators and resellers. The camera is part of the Axis “ecosystem,” which includes the company’s familiar network cameras as well as recent additions such as access control, network audio systems (including loud speakers), intercom door stations, a radar detector and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. “The more things you integrate, the more value you add to customers,” said Gren. The new body-worn camera systems are core products for Axis; they are not made by another original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and merely sold under the Axis label. “When we decided to do body-worn cameras, OEMing was not an option,” said Gren. “Instead we took some experienced Axis engineers and a bunch of new ones to develop this product line to ensure the same Axis quality and compatibility.” Introducing the new product The body-worn camera system was unveiled remotely in a press conference webinar; the original plan was to introduce the new product at ISC West, which was canceled to minimize spread of the novel coronavirus. In addition to announcing the new product, the Axis executives provided commentary and insight into the ongoing coronavirus crisis. “The security industry is a close-knit community that is connected in more ways than one,” said Fredrik Nilsson, Axis Vice President of the Americas. “We are all in this together. The industry has always exemplified resiliency, ingenuity and vision to address such challenges.” We are all in this together. The industry has always exemplified resiliency, ingenuity and vision" “There is some disruption in the Axis supply chain, but we have a broad partner-based supply chain when it comes to our sub-suppliers, our seven global CLCs (Configuration and Logistics Centers) and the distributors who keep inventory for integrators,” said Nilsson in the March 18th press call. “There is some stress on some components, but things are working relatively well under the circumstances. We are monitoring it on a day-to-day basis, but so far we have been able to hold things up very well.” Gren offered a comment on the possible use of thermal cameras (which Axis makes) to measure body temperature during the COVID-19 crisis: “When we designed our thermal cameras, that was a common question,” he said. “But in general, it is difficult to use a thermal camera to get an accurate reading. We have one model – the Q2901 – that is a temperature-accurate thermal camera, and if you look straight into the camera, it is accurate to around 1° F. However, there are more efficient ways to [measure temperature]. In general, it’s not a business application I would recommend.”