Articles by Randy Southerland
Part 6 of our Robots in Security series Later this year Universal Protection Service will begin offering a new autonomous robot to customers in California The next security guard you see may look more like R2D2 than Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Robots are starting to make their way into the offerings of security companies, and they may give guards a whole new image. Later this year Universal Protection Service — a division of Universal Services of America — will begin offering a new autonomous robot to customers in California. This Machine as a Service will feature robots manufactured by Knightscope, a security technology company based in Mountain View, California. The bots won’t replace human security guards, but they will free them from some of the boring and low level work — such as staring at monitors — that has long been the bane of the profession. That will allow people do higher-level jobs require decision making and judgment. “It goes to the broader growth of security as a profession and the broader growth of using technology for gathering information,” explains Mark McCourt, Vice President, Enterprise Security Services at Universal Protection Service. “It’s about being more predictive vs. reactive in security.” Providing Actionable Intelligence One of the great challenges of security at every level has been access to the right information at the right time. “The autonomous data machine is a very unique and powerful way to have a set of eyes, ears and even noses,” says McCourt. “It can do a number of things that are really a force multiplier to collect data in its surroundings and send that data into that central location or operations center where analysts can review it.” Knightscope was founded by Stacey Dean Stephens, a former law enforcement agent, and William Li after the Sandy Hook mass shooting. A report had found that if officers had been able to get into the building a minute sooner more than a dozen lives could have been saved. Robots equipped with cameras and sensors can provide actionable intelligence that can speed the deployment of law enforcement. These devices – which are essentially at eye level, also offered the prospect of better images than those provided by stationary mounted CCTV. These robots will be particularly useful in high-crime areas where constant monitoring is essential He came up with the idea to build a predictive network to prevent crime using robots. The units collect data using 360-degree high-definition and low-light infrared cameras and built-in microphones that can also be used two way communication. The system can identify suspicious sounds such as breaking glass and send an alert to the security network. Depending on your age and pop culture background, Knightscope’s K3 and K5 machines will remind you of the friendly Star War’s R2D2 or the not-so-friendly Daleks of Dr. Who fame. The design is more a case of form follows function than trying to emulate a pop culture icon, according to Stephens. Vertical Markets The company has been marketing the machines to office buildings where the larger outdoor-oriented K5 units function as security assistants. Customers include a number of Silicon Valley tech companies and yes, even a local mall. The deal with Universal marks a big step toward making the robots more widely available. “In Silicon Valley we have all these autonomous vehicles running around logging more than half a million miles,” notes Stephens. “Why not make an automatous robot using the same technology that they use to navigate busy streets?” The new K3 model now in development is designed for indoor use, while the larger K5 operates outdoors within fenced areas such as parking lots. Much like the systems used on self-driving cars, the robots are equipped with 19 lasers that can create a 3D image of their surroundings. They also have the ability to recognize anomalies such as an open door or gate and send an alarm to central dispatch. Companies Leading The Way At Universal company officials recognized it was good time to become the leader in offering a robot option to customers. "The autonomous data machine is a very unique and powerful way to have a set of eyes, ears and even noses" “The technology has come a long way,” says McCourt. “Price points have come a long way and so economically it makes sense now to give it a try.” These robots will be particularly useful in high-crime areas where constant monitoring is essential. They also offer a deterrent that has previously only been provided by uniformed security. At more than five and a half feet tall and 300 lbs., the machines are easily seen. Gliding across a parking lot with lights flashing, they can be startling. Just as Universal sees benefits in being first, Knightscope is also an early offering in the robot space. “Knightscope is the only company with a working security application-focused ADM,” says McCourt. “We’ve met with a lot of companies and seen a lot of prototypes, and there will be many more machines rolling off the assembly lines for demonstration and testing.” If robot security continues to grow as the experts are predicting, the company will be looking at other models to meet customer needs, he adds. “We’re talking to customers who demoed it and looked at it and who really kicked the tires and the acceptance and satisfaction rate was very high,” said McCourt. Catch up on our Robots in Security series here
Part 5 of our Robots in Security series Robolliance allows industry experts to advance the understanding and awareness of the Autonomous Robotics marketplace The age of robotics is fast approaching. To be successful, security systems integrators need to understand how these machines fit in the security of their clients, according to industry experts. “The integrators did not begin this trend,” says Bill Bozeman, President and CEO of the PSA Security Network, cooperative of security product suppliers and system integration companies. “They did not say, ‘Oh boy I can’t wait to introduce robotics into my portfolio'. This is driven by the end users. This is the norm. Like it or not, the integrator community is somewhat reactionary.” Robotics In Vertical Markets For those security integrators who serve industry verticals such as utilities, oil and gas, healthcare, higher education and even real estate owners with large campuses and buildings such as malls, knowledge of robotic security solutions is essential, he adds. Those serving large companiesand facilities will need tounderstand the capacities ofrobotics, the leading-edge manufacturers and the designers “You go into the meeting with your portfolio, and the security director comes in and says ‘Hey, tell me your thoughts on security robotics. Do you think it’s a fit for my organization and what do you think?’ If you say ‘I don’t know’, they’re going to think ‘This company is not keeping up.” For those professionals geared to providing security to small shops and stores or homes, robotics will not be a prime solution for many years to come. Those serving the great mass of large companies and facilities will need to understand the capacities of robotics, the leading-edge manufacturers and the designers. Educating Integrators On Robotics “PSA has a history of introducing the “next big thing” to their integrators before they eventually hardwire the topic to their training curriculum,” echoes Cliff Quiroga, Vice President and Deputy General Manager at Sharp and a leader in the new formed Robolliance. Bozeman’s organization has taken the lead in providing a wide variety of educational and networking programs that bring together integrators with manufacturers and industry experts on the topic of robotics. “For those who choose not to play, well they’ll be forced into the small segment of verticals where robotics doesn’t make a difference,” says Bozeman. “There won’t be many of those. Their pool of potential business will shrink.” Advances in technology will reduce the costs of deploying robots into facilities, making them more appealing to companies Future With Service Robots The deployment of robots into civilian security operations has been limited so far, but the number of product options is growing rapidly. Major companies such as Sharp have created robotic divisions and are readying products for testing and deployment to real-world customers. Guard companies are already looking at robots and how they can be incorporated into their offering to work alongside human officers. “The latest advancement in robotics, particularly in the area of drones and unmanned ground vehicles, is a game-changer,” observes Brian Higgins, founder and president of Group 77, a security and public safety consulting firm. “The robots of today will provide that catalyst, that direct connection between humans and technology creating the integration we are trying to accomplish.” Robots won’t replace security officers, but they will take over many of the mundane and boring tasks such as monitoring cameras and sensors that humans simply aren’t very good at doing, notes Higgins. "Robots will patrol, they will inspect, they will sense and they will perform actions that are pre-programmed by humans" “Robots will patrol, they will inspect, they will sense and they will perform actions that are pre-programmed by humans,” says Higgins. “The routine patrols performed by the robots will be done with cameras that are better in capturing images than the human eye. They will sense better than the human nose or ears. I think there is very little limitation on what robots can do and will do in the future.” Making Robotics Appealing Advances in technology will reduce the costs of deploying robots into facilities, making them more appealing to companies that are all too well aware of the limits of human attention. “The security industry is plagued with commoditization of their traditional technology,” says Quiroga. “Many products, especially video, are being mass-produced with very similar performance capabilities and made available through a variety of online outlets and distributors. The industry is choking on commoditization and channel conflicts with limited value being added by the integrator.” With robotics, security integrators will now have a unique technology to gather data for the client, provide the constant security presence, and insulate them from the future increase in minimum wage for their existing services, he adds. Being first requires an investment to build and train a staff committed to robotics Bumper Opportunities For Robotics Experts “Being an ‘expert’ in robotics will be a differentiator for the integrator, open more doors for them, and help them win over new clients because of the value they bring to the overall security solution,” says Quiroga. Experts agree that the integrator community needs to understand that robotics offers an unparalleled growth opportunity for those companies that commit early to the technology. Wall Street is already taking note of the industry and its potential. Earlier this year, iRobot, which makes robotic vacuum cleaners, spun off its military and police robot division into a separate company. Now known as Endeavor Robotics, the company was purchased for $45 million by Arlington Capital Partners. The company is the largest supplier of robots to the U.S. military. “Although the technology is still in final development, there is no other market segment related to electronic security that could provide the business opportunity that robotic technology will provide the early adopters,” says Quiroga. “Being first requires an investment to build and train a staff committed to robotics; successful integrators will not be those who only offer robotics as a solution on the occasional project. Robotics is coming; get ready now.” Catch up on our Robots in Security series here Save Save
Part 4 of our Robots in Security series Robolliance allows industry experts to advance the understanding and awareness of the Autonomous Robotics marketplace There’s no better indication that robots are the next big thing in security than the formation of the industry organization known as Robolliance. It’s billed as “a forum for technology partners and industry experts in robotics, surveillance and security to advance the understanding and awareness of the Autonomous Robotics marketplace.” Founded by Sharp Electronics Corp, its members include some of the biggest names in security and technology including Bell and Howell, Rajant Corporation, Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI), and others. Sharp Vice President and Deputy General Manager Cliff Quiroga is helping to lead the charge on robotics for security. Recently, he spoke with SourceSecurity.com about the new organization and what all the talk about robots means for the security industry. SourceSecurity.com: What prompted the creation of Robolliance? How will it help drive innovation in this technology? Quiroga: There are two facts about the introduction of high-tech to our personal and professional lives. One, new technology is disruptive. Two, most people resist change. I remember Forbes publishing an article a few years back about the top five reasons people resist change. The writer’s recommendation was to take the time to understand the change, who it will impact, how it will impact and why people might resist it. Robolliance does just this. Robotics’ introduction into the security industry will be much more disruptive than a smart phone. The fact that people resist change is what Robolliance is all about. It is a resource where people can go to understand and become aware. SourceSecurity.com: What were the main takeaways from PSA TEC [PSA Security Network’s yearly conference] where Robolliance was announced? Quiroga: As Sharp Electronics Corporation was bringing together sponsors to work together on Robolliance, PSA was making a parallel effort to bring robotics into the purview of their membership of security integrators. What better place to introduce both our efforts? PSA has a history of introducing the “next big thing” to their integrators before they eventually hardwire the topic to their training curriculum. Over prior years, they had great success with the introduction of cybersecurity, which is now a focal point of the education security integrators receive to grow their business. Robotics is what PSA deems that “next big thing”. SourceSecurity.com: How will the organization contribute to innovation in robotics? Quiroga: Robolliance serves as an incubator for individuals and organizations to do their best work. The composition of Robolliance extends beyond the sponsors to the followers, who will join the forum to share stories, collaborate ideas and cross-educate one another. A company, like Sharp Electronics Corporation, has a history of engineering and manufacturing success. Robolliance brings a company, like ours, into an ecosystem that includes other robotics, surveillance and security experts, who can stay within their wheelhouse and leverage their core competencies in contribution with other thought-leaders, who believe in the future of robotic technology. Together, we have the potential to shorten innovation cycles and increase speed to market. The role of robotics in security today is still in its infancy, but indications are the market is ready and waiting for the technology SourceSecurity.com: What role is robotics playing now in security? Quiroga: The role of robotics in security today is still in its infancy. Aerial drones are just starting to appear with some corporate security organizations, but progress has only been inching along, while security and safety directors wait to see how the FAA [U.S. Federal Aviation Administration] will finalize regulations. Concerning ground-based robotics, there is no unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) on the market today dedicated to outdoor autonomous patrol and surveillance. All indications are the market is ready and waiting for the technology. SourceSecurity.com: Is the primary trend using robots as security guards? Where do they work best? Patrolling perimeters and warehouses? Quiroga: We believe the trend is in “Collaborative Robotics” – products that increase the overall productivity of workers, such as security guards. Technology innovation at its best tends to make workers more productive. Robotic products as applied to security tend to show the most promise for those dull, dirty and dangerous – the 3Ds – applications. Examples of this include utilities, such as electrical and water treatment, manufacturing and petro-chemical processing facilities. Typical roles for a security robot on these sites are perimeter patrols and asset verification. SourceSecurity.com: What are the challenges? Quiroga: There is still a lot of emerging technology that will allow ground-based robots to expand and perform more functions than we see today. At the moment, speed is limited, but as sensor technology costs come down, we will see travel speeds of UGVs increase. SourceSecurity.com: Does it create liability? Quiroga: For the most part, we don’t see an increase in liability, especially when we compare the risks and cost related to a person performing dangerous security activities versus having a robot perform those same tasks. SourceSecurity.com: What are the challenges of using robots in this capacity? Quiroga: We believe “change” in general is the biggest challenge. We are all creatures of habit, and using a new tool will require some retraining and adjustments, but we believe as with any new technology this will come with time and exposure. SourceSecurity.com: What are the technical breakthroughs companies are focusing on and need to solve in this area? Quiroga: The basic uses have been defined, and the fundamental capabilities are possible. The improvements will come, just as they have for personal computers. Improvements in performance of key robot components, such as sensors (such as Lidar), will happen and in turn the cost reductions will come as those components are used in more and more products. SourceSecurity.com: What is the most promising market for companies in the robot security area? Quiroga: The most promising market for the autonomous ground-based vehicles is any large private or government outdoor facility with constant “guard-tours” and safety/security compliance reporting requirements. Read Part 5 of our Robots In Security Series here Save
Part 3 of our robots in security series Police and the military have been using these machines for decades now to disarm bombs and provide reconnaissance (Image credit: Antonio Scorza / Shutterstock.com) The era of the “killer robot” hasn’t arrived, exactly, but it may not be far off. Police and the military have been using these machines for decades now to disarm bombs and provide reconnaissance in areas where it would be risky to send officers or soldiers. When Dallas Police equipped a robot with an explosive device and sent it in to take out a sniper who had killed five officers, it raised eyebrows and conjured images of a gun-slinging RoboCop. It was the very first time a robot had been used to kill a suspect. The suspect had barricaded himself inside a parking garage and threatened to kill more police. Equipping the robot with a bomb was an “off label” use for which it has not been designed, according to Sean Bielat, CEO of Endeavor Robotics, the nation’s leading builder of robots for the military and public safety. Experimenting With Military Robots His company has sold more than 6,000 systems with most going to U.S. or foreign militaries and a few hundred acquired by police departments. He doesn’t know if it was one of his units that was sacrificed to stop the sniper. Even the military has never used robots to kill the enemy. The U.S. Army has experimented with equipping robots with machine guns and even deployed three units to Iraq in 2007, but they never saw combat. Security and military robots are designed to save lives, not take them.“Our robots are tools for standoff,” explains Bielat. “We provide distance in time and space from dangerous objects, dangerous substances and dangerous situations.” Endeavor Robotics is the former military division of iRobot, which makes the popular Rumba vacuum robot. Earlier this year, the new company was formed with financial backing from Arlington Capital Partners. Its robots are used for bomb disposal and have become a common sight in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, where they are used to disarm roadside bomb – Improvised Explosive Devices as they’re commonly called. Security and military robots are designed to save lives, not take them(Image credit: ell2550 / Shutterstock.com) These bots can also be equipped with various types of sensors that can detect hazardous chemicals or biological agents or even radiation. With cameras and laser sensors they are also adept at providing reconnaissance on enemy movement and location without endangering personnel. “The robots can go in first, assess the situation and then the first responders, the soldiers can react appropriately,” says Bielat. Investigating Dangerous Situations Experts say it’s unlikely that other police departments will follow Dallas’ lead. Robots are pricy with military grade models going for upwards of $100,000 each. Local police rarely have the budgets to justify blowing one up even to stop a sniper. It’s likely police agencies will continue to confront similar situations with armed SWAT teams rather than robots. An Endeavor robot was used as part of the police response to the San Bernardino shooting last December, where 80 people were attacked by domestic terrorists in a rented banquet hall. “A robot was used to check to see if there were active shooters inside,” Bielat told the press. “It helps law enforcement without putting their own people at risk.” Equipping Robots With Firepower The idea of a gun-wielding robot also keeps coming up. The Marine Corps is testing a robotic system outfitted with sensors and cameras that can be armed with an M240 machine gun. The Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System has gone out on training patrols at Camp Pendleton. If it survives testing, the bots could be deployed with 13-person infantry squads that form the heart of combat units. With soldiers typically equipped with small arms, the robot could offer extra fire power with its mounted machine gun. In the meantime, robots will likely continue to become more commonplace on the battlefield. Experts predict within the next decade robots are expected to outnumber human soldiers by 10 to 1. Read Part 4 of our Robots In Security Series here Save Save
Part 2 Of Our Robots In Security Series Companies realized they could improve security by mounting laser sensors and cameras on a mobile platform such as Knightscope's Autonomous Data Machines Security and safety robotics, unlike any other industry, is driven by customer and market demand. Once buyers acquire robots, they often find new things they want them to do. Manufacturers are then called upon to respond to those demands, and they often do. Enhancing Security The real demand for robots came about when companies realized they could improve security and safety by mounting laser sensors and cameras on a mobile platform. GPS and a laser ranging instrument enable robots to find their way around a patrol area and avoid obstacles. Computer technology has improved to the point that data sent from robots could determine when something was out of order – such as a hole in a fence or an object or person in a place they shouldn’t be. Now that robots are becoming available, the task they perform will no doubt continue to increase. Robots started by patrolling perimeters and large open areas such as parking lots. Now, companies such as Knightscope are developing robots that can also move around inside buildings. Their sensors enable them to avoid obstacles, including people. Robots Replacing Security Guards Robots will replace securityguards monitoring areasthrough CCTV. The robots willdo the monitoring and thencall the guards when theydetect a breach in security These robots will continue to replace the security guards monitoring areas through CCTV. The robots will do the monitoring and then call the guards when they detect a breach in security. That may mean fewer guards, but more personnel doing higher-levels tasks. “It’s not that they don’t like manpower, it’s hard to find people who want to stare at a perimeter for hours a day,” says Stewart Dewar, Product Manager at Senstar Corporation. “Actually people are not all that good at doing routine stuff.” RoboGuard Surveillance Robot The company’s RoboGuard™ is an agile surveillance robot riding on a monorail that constantly patrols along a secured perimeter. It can promptly respond to a suspected intrusion through one of Senstar’s perimeter intrusion detection system (PIDS) sensors.Robots are also likely to take on more functions for public safety. The Dallas Police Department’s recent use of a robot with an explosive device to kill a sniper was a unique – and probably rare – use of the technology. “The robots weren’t designed for this purpose,” admits Sean Bielat, CEO of Endeavor Robotics, the nation’s biggest maker of military and police robots. “If our customers were to come to us and say we really need a solution that would help us deal with a person in a barricaded situation then we could probably come up with something that made more sense than deploying an explosive device,” adds Bielat. “Perhaps we’d use non-lethal technology.” Rather than an explosive that killed the sniper and destroyed the robot, it could be equipped with Tasers or other “less than lethal” devices. RoboGuard is an agile surveillance robot riding on a monorail that constantly patrols along a secured perimeter Future Role Of Robots To Enhance Security Robots also offer police and even the military the option of being able to “shoot second” in a confrontation with a suspect or enemy combatant. Unlike a SWAT team, a properly equipped robot could roll into a situation without the need to shoot at the first sign of danger. Equipped with two-way microphones, a driver could then negotiate with a shooter and perhaps avoid the necessity of lethal force, according to Bielat. “Right now that’s all speculative,” he explains. “Right now robots are not being used that way. There are no programs in place to arm robots or to have them be used in direct combat roles. All the programs of records that are coming down are to use robots to either continue the counter IED fight or to put on additional sensors and capabilities to create situational awareness for different communities.” The Marine Corps is alreadytesting a tracked robotoutfitted with sensors andcameras and armed with anM240 machine gun The military has been using ground-based robots for decades, but never in the role of a platform to deliver firepower against the enemy. Their roles have been confined to bomb disposal and reconnaissance and surveillance and the detection of chemical, biological and radiological threats. “Infantry has yet to field robots widely,” says Bielat. “So the troops in those situations just don’t even have robots. I could see (robots) being used as a form of force escalation. You could escalate the response and potentially reduce causalities across the battle space – not just friendly, but enemy as well – by using robots to decrease the lethality required in a given situation.” Limited Use Of Military Robots Warrior robots have yet to make their way into the tactics and strategy of the U.S. Army. Yet, experts say it’s only a matter of time before these machines are given new roles such as providing greater firepower to the troops. “There aren’t really tactics, techniques and procedures or TTPs that support using robots in that way,” explains Bielat. “That’s just not how our military trains to use robots and robotics technology.” He does expect the young men deploying these machines to take the next step and adapt their own – even before the Generals and Commanders formulate specific policies for their use. The Marine Corps is already testing a tracked robot outfitted with sensors and cameras and armed with an M240 machine gun. Known as the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System, it has gone on training patrols at Camp Pendleton. If they survive testing, these particular robots could be deployed in small infantry squads that form the heart of combat units. With soldiers topically equipped with just small arms, the robot could offer extra fire power with its mounted machine gun. Read Part 3 of our Robots In Security Series here Save Save
Part 1 of our robots in security series Robots such as those designed by SMP Robotics can handle a variety of tasks ranging from perimeter fence monitoring to snow removal Robots come in all shapes and sizes from small tracked vehicles to large upright cylinders and cart-like devices on wheels. They fly through the air and glide underwater. They’re becoming familiar sights and will become more so. The future of robots in the military, public safety and security is expanding for some very good reasons. The new crop of robots enhances security and safety and does a better job than human security personnel. Technology is improving rapidly. Robots are getting smarter as lasers, cameras and other sensors enable them to “see” where they’re going and report back on what they observe to background networks. Factors Driving Robotics Crime rates have fallen in recent decades for a variety of reasons, but one big one is better technology, according to Brian Higgins, founder and president of Group 77, a security and public safety consulting firm. “As robotics continues to advance at the pace we have seen recently, we’ll learn new ways that robotics will integrate into security" “The growth and influence of technology in law enforcement (has changed) how crime is handled and the reduction in certain crimes,” he says. “As robotics continues to advance at the pace we have seen recently, we’ll learn new ways that robotics will integrate into security and public safety that we cannot even fathom.” One factor driving robotics is the promise of better monitoring of facilities than can be provided by stationary CCTV. Robots equipped with cameras, lasers and other sensors offer a much more eye-level view of a situation. As they move around an area such as a perimeter fence, they can recognize anomalies such as an open gate or an object that shouldn’t be there. Movable Cameras “The problem was very simple – how to make cameras movable,” explains Leo Ryzhenko, CEO of SMP Robotics Systems Corp. “The problem is if you have 200 cameras, it’s an expensive project just to keep them (operational). Second is you need people, a lot of people, just to watch monitors. Often, these people are not doing the job. It’s impossible for humans to look at 200 cameras.” Ryzhenko decided that mobile robots were the best solution for getting cameras off of poles and walls and close to the action. “Cameras should be movable, and they have to be clever enough to find out who is a real intruder or just a stray dog,” he explains. “The camera should communicate very well with the security guy. The whole idea of the security robots is not to replace security guards, but to provide an additional layer of security.” Knightscope's robots collect data using 360-degree high-definition and low-light infrared cameras and built-in microphones Rising Demand For Mobile Video Surveillance SMP Robotics started to design its machines in 2009 because of a growing demand from the security services sector for mobile video surveillance operation at large facilities. The main goal was to create and expand a market segment with a new class of compact autonomous commercial robots, according to Ryzhenko. These machines, which are built in Russia, can handle a variety of tasks ranging from perimeter fence monitoring to snow removal and mosquito spraying. With access to robots equipped with cameras and sensors, police could have gained actionable intelligence to speed the deployment of law enforcement Another maker of Autonomous Data Machines is Knightscope. The company was founded by Stacey Dean Stephens, a former law enforcement agent, and William Li after the horrific Sandy Hook school shooting. One of their motivations was a report that had found if officers had been able to get into the building a minute sooner more than a dozen lives could have been saved. Arriving officers had no direct intelligence about the shooter and where in the building he was located. With access to robots equipped with cameras and sensors, police could have gained actionable intelligence to speed the deployment of law enforcement. Stephens came up with the idea to build a predictive network to prevent crime, using robots. The units collect data using 360-degree high-definition and low-light infrared cameras and built-in microphones that can also be used for two-way communication. The system can even identify suspicious sounds such as breaking glass and send an alert to the security network. Today, the company’s five-foot-tall, 300-pound cylindrical bots patrol Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus among other tech companies around the area. The machines, which resemble a crew of friendly Daleks [of Doctor Who fame], have even been deployed at a local mall. Read Part 2 of our Robots in Security series here Save
FirstNet’s network would provide dedicated support to law enforcement on the scene not only from a local standpoint, but from a Federal standpoint as well Someday in the not-too-distant future, first responders – from police to EMS will have access to a secure broadband network. It will keep them connected with other agencies while ensuring their data is protected even in the midst of natural and manmade disasters. At least that’s the idea behind the U.S. Congress’s creation of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). This authority just sent out requests for proposals (RFPs) to build a first-of-its-kind network of unprecedented scope and reliability for the nation’s first responders. Constructing this massive project will take both money and skill to ensure it works effectively and is protected against the types of hacks that have plagued businesses on the Internet. “It’s about having a system available to public safety that they can depend on and use without having to share it in a time of national need,” explains Patrick Flynn, Director of Homeland/National Security Programs for Intel Security (formerly McAfee). Additionally, it provides a wide broadband pipe for public safety. The requirements for public safety professionals to do their job effectively are getting larger and larger as technology advances. They need to be situationally aware, and have a common operational picture. “It’s being able to diagnose the patient more effectively en route [for example],” adds Flynn. “[The network] would provide dedicated support to law enforcement on the scene not only from a local standpoint, but from a Federal standpoint as well.” Separate From Commercial Communication Networks FirstNet grew out of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, and reflected a long-held goal of states’ public safety agencies and the 9/11 Commission. The new agency, which operates with an annual budget of $126 million, is expecting to get the first components of the system up and running within the next year. FirstNet is envisioned to be a backbone based on open, non-proprietary standards and commercially available equipment. It will not replace existing mobile radio, cellular and Internet services being used by public safety agencies. Participating states will build out their own systems and interconnections using the backbone, possibly with Federal help. Although plans call for relying on commercially available technology and commercial carriers, FirstNet will be completely separate from other commercial communications networks. FirstNet operates with an annual budget of $126 million, and expects to get the first components of the public safety network operational within the next year Mobile Apps For Police Personnel To Share Intel One goal of the new network is to make it easier for agencies to move from paper to web-based records – much as another Federal program has enticed doctors and hospitals to switch to electronic medical records. Many police are still writing field interview notes by hand and then eventually entering them into a central database. Private sector companies are busy creating mobile apps that allow police to enter their notes directly into a computer and then upload them for use by other officers. “The beautiful thing is putting this information where everybody can use it,” says Doug Pasley, a former officer with the Tampa Police Department and now Field Operations Support Lead at Haystax Technology. “Say I document a field interview with a bad guy and he leaves me and goes on to commit a crime. (Police) are already using the data I just submitted because there’s no time delay.” In the days before apps such as Haystax Technology’s new Mobile Field Interview app, there was usually a 48- to 72-hour delay. The officer had to enter it, get it approved by a superior and only then would it make its way to a detective who needed it for an investigation. Instant Communication During Natural Disasters “The technology world is making it possible to investigate crimes that much faster,” he adds. “By getting that information to the detective, he can sit in his office and do an area search minutes after I hit submit and find a bad guy he may be looking for.” The always-on nature of the network will extend to natural disasters as well when many commercial networks fail. “As (the Tampa police agencies) were moving into the technology world one of our biggest worries was whether the technology would be there after a hurricane,” says Pasley, who was charged with implementing new technology when he was with the Tampa police. “We’re always looking for the big bombs, but the big hurricanes or tornadoes are what hit us more often.”
Some people contend that traffic light cameras are money-makers for localgovernments rather than a deterrent for dangerous driving These days, cameras are everywhere, and getting away with petty offences like running traffic lights has got harder. Citizens have got hot under the collar, and some have even gone to court to get rid of the automatic tickets generated by these robotic traffic enforcers. Traffic Light Camera Intersections Not Conforming To Federal Traffic Standards In one case, U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt last year dismissed a lawsuit filed by Claire Leder of Bayside, Queens, against Nassau County’s traffic light camera program. In her filing, Leder, who had been cited in 2011 by a traffic light camera, argued that the county’s traffic-light camera intersections did not conform to federal traffic standards mandating that the amber light last for at least three seconds. She asked the court to shut down the program, but the judge ruled she failed to prove Nassau County acted "intentionally or recklessly by lowering the duration of yellow traffic lights." Then, in November, the federal appeals court for the Second Circuit also rejected an appeal of the original ruling. “Like many of the red light camera programs around the country, this one had no criminal sanction attached to it,” explains Mark Mulholland, a senior litigator with Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, which represented Nassau County in the court case. “So unlike a normal moving violation, with a red light camera ticket you cannot have your insurance points affected. It does not go on your driving record. It doesn’t affect you in any other way if you accept the robot citation and just pay the ticket. It is deliberately structured so it is non-criminal in tone and nature.” At the time Leder had paid the $65, “waiving her right to contest the accuracy of the automated citation,” says Mulholland. Decreased Amber Signal Time In the case filed in 2015, she claimed to be suing on behalf of herself and all others Nassau residents who had received tickets. The gist of her complaint was that Nassau County had systematically decreased the amber signal time below the mandatory three second interval prescribed by federal and state law, according to Mulholland. While Leder didn’t measure the lights at the intersection where she was ticketed, the filing included a study performed in Texas that found that intersections with traffic light cameras had amber light times below the national minimum, he adds. “She cited some anecdotal information from a CBS television news story about some other cameras at other intersections in New York having been decreased,” says Mulholland. After installing the traffic light cameras, accidents involving injuries dropped 22 percent, rear-end collisions decreased by 18 percent, and head-on collisions fell by 50 percent in Nassau County Dismissal Of Lawsuit In Name Of Sustained Public And Vehicle Safety The dismissal of the suit means that local governments both in New York – and likely elsewhere – will be able to continue the program. Critics and proponents of traffic light cameras tend to see them in very different ways. Some, like Leder, contend they are money-makers for local governments who have an incentive to increase the number of tickets being issued to motorists. “Drivers here are treating red lights as like a warning,” says Sally Flocks, President and CEO of PEDS, an Atlanta-based pedestrian and bike advocacy group, who led the campaign to get the cameras approved by the Georgia General Assembly. “(Motorists are) treating the red light like a yellow light. People hit the gas pedal even if they’re way back. And basically if you can see a red light while you’re still in the intersection then you had time to stop, but it’s not unusual to see people are going through on red.” At intersections with cameras, the number of broadside or “T-bone” collisions falls; that is, collisions in which the side of one vehicle is hit by the front or rear of another vehicle. At the same time, the number of rear-end crashes often increases, according to Flocks. “The difference is more rear-enders, but they are not nearly as dangerous,” she explains. “The numbers of crashes may go up, but the severe crashes are going way down.” The number of accidents at Nassau County's 68 traffic-light camera intersections declined from 1,840 to 1,320 – an average of 28 percent – compared with the 12-month period before the cameras were installed. Accidents involving injuries dropped 22 percent, rear-end collisions decreased by 18 percent, side-impact crashes fell by 37 percent, and head-on collisions fell by 50 percent, according to a 2013 study by Nassau County's Traffic Safety Board.
Sports security combines manned guarding with access control devices, HD surveillance cameras & analytics in a command centre for a comprehensive security presence Providing security for sporting events and venues has long focused on personnel. Protection came in the form of guards and other personnel who controlled access to the venue and to restricted areas. With an increasing need to provide higher levels of protection in an age of terrorism, venues have turned to traditional access control equipment. Access Control Equipment For Enhanced Protection These days the typical large venue is equipped with cameras, and fans are checked by metal detectors at entrances. “You start off with access control to better protect the stadium,” explains Dr. Lou Marciani, Executive Director of National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi. “We’re into magnetometers. We have bollards inside stadiums to protect against vehicle-borne explosives. We’ve got better trained people at gates that know how to use wands or magnetometers.” These tools are combined with enhanced surveillance and integrated systems within a command center, that are tracking information from sources as diverse as social media and alarms. “We have much-improved pixel capacities and surveillance (cameras) that can tell me if you shaved last night,” he says. “We’re really moving along fast with good solid technology to enhance our capabilities without a doubt.” HD Cameras For Detailed Coverage Technology manufacturers have responded to the needs of sports security with the right kinds of equipment. “High resolution digital cameras and the recording equipment are something that more and more stadiums are relying on,” says Paul Turner, Director of Event Operations & Security for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. “You have an array of cameras so that the goal is you’re able to provide coverage on every seat on the bowl. You’re digitally recording all the time so that you can zoom into a particular section and rewind the recording and watch what happens.” Facilities are no longer using just the standard pan-tilt-zoom cameras that scan areas and may or may not record a particular incident. “Now technology is out there where everything is being recorded all the time and you can forensically examine what happened very easily and understand what led to that situation,” explains Turner. “Not every stadium has that, of course, but more and more are making room for that kind of technology.” NCS4 provides information on sports security best practices, as well as rigoroustests and research into the best equipment available to the industry NCS4 Providing Information For Sports Security Professionals Centers like NCS4 have increasingly become the source for not only best practices, but information on the best equipment available to the industry. “There are hundreds of camera manufacturers out there, and there are hundreds of folks that sell access control stuff,” observes Richard Fenton, Vice President of Corporate Security at Ilitch Holdings Inc., which includes the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and MLB’s Detroit Tigers. “There are all sorts of products, and they all say they’re the best. So [NCS4 has] a very elaborate lab testing protocol so that vendors can bring their products there. They put it through some rigorous testing; develop white papers on it. For someone like me who’s building a new arena, that’s a great advantage.”
Trump’s border wall proposal reflects a rising demand forgreater border security When GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed building a wall along the length of the U.S.-Mexican border, some ridiculed the idea. Yet, it also struck a nerve among Americans deeply concerned about unchecked illegal immigration. "I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words," Trump said in a speech last June announcing his campaign. Initially, Trump said he would force Mexico to build this border wall and pay for it. Otherwise he would do something “severe,” he told supporters. How Feasible Is Trump’s Border Wall? A wall spanning the entire border would stretch almost 2,000 miles across four states and be one of the biggest public works projects ever undertaken. During the Republican presidential debate on Oct. 28, Trump shortened the wall to just 1000 miles. “As far as the wall is concerned, we’re going to build a wall,” said Trump. “We’re going to create a border … They built the Great Wall of China. That’s 13,000 miles. Here, we actually need 1,000 because we have natural barriers. So we need 1,000.” Previous attempts to build walls have been costly. The Great Wall of China was 13,000 miles and was built in sections between the 5th and 16th centuries. The Berlin Wall spanned just 96 miles and cost about $25 million to build in 1961 (about $200 million today). The Secure Fence Act of 2006 called for 670 miles of mostly unreinforced fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border and cost about $2.4 billion. It was limited to some of the more accessible and less costly areas to fence. Ronald Vitiello, Deputy Chief of Border Patrol for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told a Senate Committee hearing last year, "It's a lot more expensive than we expected when we started, and it was much more difficult." The Secure Fence Act of 2006 called for 670 miles of fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border, costing about $2.4 billion. Trump estimates his wall will be 1,000 miles long Trump’s Proposal Reflects Rising Border Security Demand Worldwide Trump’s proposal – which he has dubbed The Great Wall of Trump – reflects a rising demand for greater border security. Countries around the world are erecting barriers and equipping them with advanced sensing technologies. It’s a reflection of a turbulent world that has driven people to flee their home countries in search of safety and better economic opportunities. “The primary trend would be that there is more of it,” says Stewart Dewar, Product Manager for Senstar, a leading provider of intrusion detection equipment. “Border security has been talked about for decades and decades. In recent years it’s starting to happen around the world. In the U.S., everyone is very focused on the U.S.-Mexican border. Around the world there is greater sensitivity and a more wiliness to actually spend money and do the projects.” Senstar has sold products to a number of border security implementations over its 35-year history. It’s OmniTrax buried sensors have been used to secure 40-mile-long border section in a Middle Eastern country. Senstar has also secured borders in Eastern Europe, as well as North American border crossing, according to Miriam Rautiainen, Marketing Director for the company. Cost And Practicality Of Long Physical Barriers The focus of border security has been on stemming the flow of people through various “hot spots” – border crossings that can be secured. The idea of building a long barrier like Great Wall of China has never materialized due to both cost and the impracticality of securing rugged terrain that might include mountains and rivers. In addition, the American border includes vast areas of open space far from people and infrastructure such as power, which makes monitoring difficult, according to Dewar. Senstar’s buried sensors can pinpoint unauthorized intrusionswithin meters, and are very difficult to detect Border Security Technologies – Intrusion Sensors & CCTV Faced with long borders and limited manpower, agencies have increasingly turned to technology to detect unauthorized intrusions. They include long-range fiber-optic sensor systems such as Senstar’s FiberPatrol system. These sensors can be deployed on a fence with just a single optical cable stretched up to 10 miles. Buried RF cable sensors operate very much like radar and offer the advantage of being both out of sight and protected from the elements. “People don’t know that it’s there,” says Dewar. “So they may know a system is there, but they don’t know exactly where it is and that makes it hard to defeat. It’s very tolerant to vegetation, so it works very well for borders.” Both of these systems are able to pinpoint intrusions to within meters. If the system also is integrated with CCTV, central station monitors can point cameras in the right direction for further investigation. Border Patrol agents can then be dispatched quickly.
Sports stadiums and leagues are constantly pushing for higher security standards& best practices to strengthen venues that may be perceived as "soft targets" Terrorism threats have focused the attention of sports security professionals like Paul Turner, Director of Event Operations & Security for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on how to more effectively screen guests and ensure that fans and athletes are kept safe. It has made the sobering reality that stadiums are “soft targets” a part of their daily approach to doing business. Everything changed on 9/11. Transformed as much as anything else by the terrorist attacks has been security for sports venues. “9/11 was a huge catalyst for a lot of things when it comes to securing public places, especially sporting venues,” says Paul Turner. “A lot of what we’re doing today was put in motion when 9/11 happened.” Intelligence Through Close Communications One of the most dramatic changes in stadium security has come through close communications between agencies at every level including new access to intelligence gathering. “One of the big things has been communications,” says Dr. Lou Marciani, executive director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4). “The different law enforcement agencies, emergency managers, event people are all communicating together. Intelligence was the next improvement. So we’re on the cutting edge of situational awareness.” High Security Standards At AT&T Stadium, where the NFL Dallas Cowboys play, security is guided by standards created by the National Football League. These standards and practices are mandatory for all NFL venues and run the gamut of daily operations all the way through event-day operations for games. “We’re all being held to those standards,” says Turner. “Then the league put in place an auditing mechanism where they come and evaluate each venue each year and they give you a score on how you are performing based on those standards.” The National Basketball Association and the National Hockey Association have created similar rules for their own venues. Guards And Metal Detectors At Stadium Entrances These security procedures have changed the way fans enter the stadium. Security officials now use hand-held security wands at gates and limit the size and type of bags that can be brought in. Last summer, the NFL added full walk-through metal detectors to its list of "best practices" for stadium security. Next year all 31 stadiums across the country must install them at entry points. Some venues, including Lambeau Field and MetLife Stadium, are using them now at certain gates. Entry points to a stadium may be secured by walk-through metal detectors, staffwith security wands, guards and sniffer dogs When terrorists struck in Paris a few months ago, they also attacked a soccer stadium where a match was taking place. Observant security personnel stopped the attackers from entering the stadium and, in the process, saved lives. That event prompted stadiums across America to up security with more guards and even bomb sniffing dogs. Balancing Sports Security With Guest Experience Each time security is increased, professionals are faced with an old problem – how do you keep the stadium safe without creating unacceptable obstacles to getting people into the venue? “You want to make sure you have adequate resources so that you can consistently deliver the level of security,” says Turner. “It’s trying to balance security with the guest experience. It’s making sure that you can conduct that search consistently, but you’re not having excessive wait times of your guests and they’re getting frustrated with the time it takes for you to do that screening.” The need to keep lines moving without missing a potential threat requires the right number of trained personnel and entry points that are designed to accommodate the movement of crowds. There also must be sufficient personnel inside the venue itself to respond to fan concerns, according to Turner. Retrofitting Older Stadiums And Extending Security Perimeters While newer stadiums such as the one being built by the Atlanta Falcons are incorporating security into their design, older venues have been compelled to retrofit their facilities. “It’s making sure you’ve got equipment inside the building whether it be cameras or other access control equipment,” said Turner. “It’s ensuring you’ve got a good view and good control of the exterior of the building as well. It’s also trying to design for entries and other access ways that are going to provide the appropriate footprint to do patron screening and to make sure you can set those areas up correctly. It is always a challenge, but you’re seeing a lot more attention being paid to newer venues because we all know it’s something we have to do.” In recent years, stadiums have realised they need to extend their field of view and security outside the venue itself and into the parking lots around the stadium. “So if you’ve got gathering areas outside your building such as for tailgating and parking lots or areas where people are going to gather for queuing to get into the building, we’re considering that as also being under our protective umbrella,” says Turner. “We’re paying a lot more attention to how we manage those resources that we put out to help provide for safety and security in those kind of extended perimeters.” Security procedures such as bag checks are designed to infringe on the guestexperience as little as possible, but to be thorough and consistent SAFETY Act Certification Hosting large numbers of people in one place has also increased the financial risks for stadiums and sports league even with greatly increased levels of security. Now an increasing number of organizations and venues are seeking certification through the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (SAFETY Act). Bestowing liability protections for providers of certain anti-terrorism technologies, the SAFETY Act provides incentives for the development and deployment of these technologies by creating a system of risk and litigation management. “On the one hand it’s looking at the how and what you do and how effective that is, and on the other end it’s actually capping your liability costs,” says Richard Fenton, Vice President of Corporate Security at Ilitch Holdings Inc., which includes the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and MLB’s Detroit Tigers. “If you get certification you get all of the benefits of designation, but you also get to exercise the government contractor defense and in essence there is a presumption of immunity because you’ve been thoroughly vetted by the Safety Act office.” The NFL was the first sports league to submit its best practices and security protocols to Homeland Security and be awarded SAFETY Act certification. By granting the certification to the NFL, venues can acquire and lose it on daily basis. “When the Detroit Lions are playing a football game, they are covered by that certification,” notes Fenton. “The next night when they’re doing a Taylor Swift concert and they have the same security protocols and systems and technology and very same staff that’s been trained the same way, they’re not covered.” Rising Opportunity For Security Companies The elevated need for security has also created new opportunities for security companies. “There are expectations for a higher level of performance and professionalism,” says Jeff Spoerndle, Vice President of Whelan Event Services. “Our organization has been doing special event security since the 1970s, but we did a major expansion into the marketplace in 2009. At that time, we saw there was really a weakness in the marketplace for somebody who was a professional providers of services.” These days Whelan is providing personnel who are able to handle all aspects of stadium security from ticket taking to the operation of cameras and metal detectors.
NCS4’s research has mainly been on professional sports venues, but they alsodevelop best practices for all levels of sports – including high schools and colleges Some of the most profound changes in the way sporting events are secured have come about since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. A realization that stadiums could be a target for terrorists has transformed sports security into a highly sophisticated profession that works closely with local and national law enforcement and intelligence agencies. National Center For Spectator Sports Safety And Security One of the leaders in developing this new kind of sports security has been the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It was founded by a team of sports security veterans to support the advancement of sport safety and security through training, professional development, academic programmes and research. “It’s not that we didn’t have security before 9/11, but things changed quite a bit as far as our approach to the mitigation of risk,” says NCS4 director Louis Marciani. “One thing that happened was a lot more money from Homeland Security was fed to the industry for training in incident management, risk management, evacuation and other areas. So that’s what we do. We help those stadiums and arenas improve their collaboration, their planning, their responses to incidents.” Security Training & Research For Sports Venues Following the creation of the Department of Homeland Security by President Bush in 2002, Marciani and other faculty at Southern Mississippi began doing sports security research in 2004; in 2006, it became a full-fledged center geared to supporting the security industry through research, academic programmes and certification training. Security and sports professional attend the NCS4 Summit for training in incident management, risk management, evacuation and other areas The institute has taken a wide-ranging approach to security for sports. While most attention has been directed to professional sports venues, NCS4 has helped develop best practices geared to every level of sports – right down to high schools and colleges. It has also focused on how technology can be integrated with personnel to create a truly safe experience for both fans and athletes alike. Collaboration Between Academics And The Field For Venue Security “What NCS4 has given the industry is an institution-based unit that can look directly at this issue and marshal the resources of a university with their researchers and their academicians,” explains Paul Turner, Director of Event Operations & Security for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. “They’ve also engaged practitioners like me to be a part of that process. So what you get is the people who actually have to do the work and the people who have the time and resources to study that work as well.” That collaboration between academics and the field has led to the creation of best practices manuals and training programmes geared specifically to the needs of venue security. “They also have the capability to put resources towards things that would likely never get attention such as sports security planning for high school events,” adds Turner. Response To Boston Marathon Bombing As threats have evolved, so has NCS4’s approach. Following the Boston Marathon bombing, the institute convened a group of race operators to develop best practices for running events. This required a new approach that extended security along a lengthy race course crowded with people. The need to look beyond the narrow spaces in which an event is occurring has now changed security in other sports and venues. “It made us think about extending the areas of protection outside of our venues,” says Turner. “Prior to the Boston Marathon bombing, most of us were concerned about screening of guests when they entered our venue. Well now we’ve extended that perimeter and we’re really concerned about anybody and anything that might pose a threat to the venue exterior as well.” Following the Boston Marathon bombing, NCS4 developed new security bestpractices for running events to extend the area of protection Support From University And Professional Sports Leagues As the field has grown, NCS4 has even developed an academic concentration. Designed for sports professionals, the Masters of Business Administration with an emphasis in Sport Security Management is the only program of its kind in the United States Southern Mississippi became the home for NCS4 as much by circumstance as design. Marciani had newly arrived at the University after a long career in sports management. He had been athletic director at several universities and had worked with the United States Olympic Committee. “I came back to teach at Southern Mississippi, and another faculty member asked me to take a look at researching stadium security,” says Marciani. “So we started, and one thing led to another with grants from Homeland Security to look at risk modeling, to look at evacuations and it just kept going.” As he and other faculty members combined their experiences, the new institute reached out to the professional sports leagues for buy-in. An advisory board made up of the NFL, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and pro soccer was formed. “And it took one or two meetings for them to understand we could have access to a university that will give us new knowledge, give us training, give us certifications,” he recalls. “They were very receptive to a University that would support them.” Over the years, sports security has been able to adopt a common language and one standardized methodology. That has driven the industry and venue safety to a new level. Throughout this process, NCS4 has provided the knowledge and training that has built a new kind of profession.
Williams Meredith recently stepped out of his Kentucky home to see a drone hovering over his porch, videotaping his young daughters by the family pool. It wasn’t the first time one of these small flying devices had wandered over to take a look, but it had never gotten so close. So he did what any red-blooded American would do when confronted with a home invader – he blew it from the sky with a single shotgun blast. The confrontation is another example of the rising use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and a confirmation that neither laws or law enforcement have kept up. In recent months, drones have been used to smuggle drugs behind prison walls and enable paparazzi to crash celebrity weddings. Officials at power plants and other secure facilities report seeing these vehicles buzzing their perimeters, sparking concern they could be used by criminals or terrorists. Tracking Drones Those fears have opened up a new market for drone detection systems like those marketed by Dedrone, whose Drone Tracker device has been installed by a variety of companies with property to protect. Williams Meredith decided to get one to protect his home. “This has happened before, and when the police come there is no evidence there was even a drone here – let alone where it was over my property,” he explains. “Now we have the capacity of being alerted when it gets here no matter where it is. We now have video and sound of it being here.” Dealing with drones has beencomplicated by laws and regulationsthat never considered the idea of small, relatively cheap unmanned remote controlled vehicles For Meredith, the issue is protecting home and family and providing evidence to law enforcement. After shooting down the drone it was he (not the drone’s owner) who was arrested and charged with first degree criminal mischief and wanton endangerment for discharging a firearm. Drones are so new that privacy and property protection laws haven’t caught up. The Federal Aviation Administration – after prodding by Congress – has recently begun to rewrite regulations and in preparation to issue permits for the commercial use of UAVs. “They finally published [regulations] for comment at the beginning of this year, and they’ll be lucky if they get them passed and promulgated by some time in 2016,” says John Fry, a partner in the new drone practice group at Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP. Meredith expects the charges against him to be dropped, and some experts agree that’s likely even in the absence of new laws. University of Miami law professor Michael Froomkin says it’s reasonable for a homeowner to assume that “robotic intrusions” are menacing and that you may have the right to “employ violent self-help.” That’s also the way Meredith looks at it. Growing Market For Drone Trackers “There are very few products on the market today that are really addressing the security concerns with drones,” says Dedrone CEO Brian Edmunds. “Ours differs quite a bit from some of the others in that we have a multi-sensor approach to drone detection.” It’s equipped with microphones for audio recording, video cameras and near-infrared sensors for image detection in low light. Using multiple parameters such as noise, shape, and movement patterns, it can detect all types of drones including silent gliders. The built-in camera saves images and videos in HD quality, providing the type of evidence of the threat intrusion that Meredith lacked in his drone encounter. “Detection is really a big task because there are so many things flying in any area,” says Edmunds. “You have planes, helicopters, birds, leaves, and you have to be able to differentiate between the things that are safe and the drone that may be flying in your airspace.” Critical infrastructure such as gasand electric generation companiesand nuclear power plants are alsodeploying the system to guard theirfacilities against a threat thatoften goes undetected The system is programed to distinguish these objects based on sound and unique flight patterns. Once confirmed, the system automatically sends a text or email alert to a smartphone or other device. It also starts recording video that is stored locally for later use. As drones have multiplied, some have garnered headlines. Early this year, when a drunken intelligence agency employee crashed his drone on the White House lawn, inquiries coming into Dedrone ratcheted up as well. “Right now we’ve been talking with prison facilities, private industry and individuals as well,” says Edmunds. “People are starting to see more and more that this is a threat and they want (Drone Tracker) for their own personal security.” Critical infrastructure such as gas and electric generation companies and nuclear power plants are also deploying the system to guard their facilities against a threat that often goes undetected, he adds. Lagging Laws For UAVs Dealing with drones has been complicated by laws and regulations that never considered the idea of small, relatively cheap unmanned remote controlled vehicles. The FAA has been writing drone regulations, but only for commercial use. The FAA is issuing licenses – called 333 Exemptions – to companies such as Amazon.com, which wants to use the vehicles to deliver packages to customers. The agency has issued almost 2,000 of the exemptions so far this year. “That’s a pretty dramatic increase in the allowance rate, but we still have one of the most significant aspects of drone operation, which is the airspace management and safety, still being managed by exemption,” observes Fry. In the meantime, states are beginning to debate and pass legislation to protect privacy and property rights, according to Tony Roehl, another partner in the Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP drone group. “We found that the U.S. is behind other countries that have addressed drones much more comprehensively at the national government level,” he explains. “That’s why you’re seeing a lot of innovation in drones coming from outside the United States.” Meanwhile, business and individuals are taking matters into their own hands, deploying detection systems and even confronting drones head on.
Home security devices are evolving and expanding their offered features, providing new opportunities for the security industry Home security isn’t just home security anymore. These days cameras, door and window alarms are just pieces of the web–enabled “smart home.” And, the home is getting smarter, as service providers begin to merge home security systems with home automation. The added value of these additional features is now drawing more potential customers to the security systems market. Consider Icontrol’s recent introduction of its new water sensor – the first of a line of Z-Wave-driven accessories for its Piper Wi-Fi-enabled all-in-one home awareness and automation device. Home Automation Accessories Consider Icontrol’s recent introduction of its new water sensor – the first in a line of Z-Wave-driven accessories for its Piper Wi-Fi-enabled all-in-one home awareness and automation device. The water sensor can detect the presence of as little as 0.03 of an inch of water (less than 1 millimeter), and be set to trigger security rules and send alerts to the homeowner’s mobile device. Piper already provides panoramic video and security features for the traditional security tasks of protecting against home break-ins. Piper is a single, self-contained unit that includes a 180-degree camera that can zoom or pan around the room controlled by a smartphone. Its sensors can detect motion, sound, temperature and humidity. It also has a speaker and microphone, and siren. Users can set up rules for what the device should do when it detects sound or motion, or certain changes in temperature – and now moisture. Rise Of ‘Smart Home’ Systems As with other products, these devices are going far beyond what was once considered “home security” and in the process offering new opportunities for the security industry. “It’s become ‘I’ve got this alarm system, and it’s doing much more for me,’” says Raoul Wijgergang, vice president of the Z-Wave Business Unit at Sigma Designs and a member of the Z-Wave Alliance, a global consortium of over 325 member companies supporting the Z-Wave wireless IoT (Internet of Things) standard. “That has greatly reduced the churn for these service providers and it also has allowed them to create additional revenue from the 20 percent of the base of the U.S. households that have [security systems], but also has the potential to expand beyond people that normally would not have bought alarm systems.” The move to providing smart home systems has changed the paradigm for all service providers. The fact is, consumers viewed arming and disarming a security system as an essentially bothersome task. “Security systems don’t really spread that much other than in neighborhoods where there are burglaries taking place,” Wijgergang explains. The added value of being able to manage and control thermostats, lights and door locks from a smartphone app changed their perspective from doing something that was good for them (home security) to something that was even fun. Move Away From Traditional Home Security Services They are now selling a smart home system with a security feature whereas in the early days they were selling security system with a smart home feature “Yes, security is still a big factor, but it’s not the one and only factor anymore,” says Wijgergang. “They are now selling a smart home system with a security feature whereas in the early days they were selling security system with a smart home feature.” More than 90 percent of security panels include Z-Wave while nearly all smart home hubs being sold in the retail sector include it, according to Wijgergang. Piper’s devices are part of a growing number of products using the Z-Wave short-range wireless protocol. This technology has proven ideal for these kinds of home-area networks. Z-Wave was developed by Zensys (later acquired by Sigma Designs) as a proprietary wireless standard. It’s estimated that more than 500 consumer home control products are available from retailers including Amazon.com and Home Depot. Home improvement chain Lowes recently launched its own Z-Wave enabled smart home system – Iris. With the introduction of this and other planned accessories, users can easily update their homes to become a truly connected home through Piper. It’s one of a number of DIY home security systems that has moved away from traditional subscription-based services. Instead of a call center monitoring the system, the device alerts homeowners via their smartphones – and they can decide whether to call the police.
Small-timers with big ideas can always make their way into the industry In recent years, home automation technology has given birth to the “Smart Home” in which internet-enabled and controlled devices are bringing a new level of comfort to the standard house. From locking doors to setting the temperature to opening the blinds for a view of the sunset, technology is transforming the home into something reminiscent of the now-quaint 1960s sci-fi cartoon, The Jetsons. Of course, we’re still waiting for our jet packs and flying cars, but the house itself is doing far more of the work than anyone thought possible just a few years ago. Future Of The Home Automation Sector? “We have seen a lot of consolidation over the last five to seven years, and a lot of it was because of the economy,” says Dave Pedigo, Senior Director of Learning & Emerging Technologies at the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. “As much as you see the potential for consolidation, I also see a lot of potential for startup companies that have the ability to make products and are innovative, serve a purpose and can change the industry.” In an era of 3D printing, rapid prototyping and small companies powered by social media and crowd funding, small-timers with big ideas can always make their way into the industry, he adds. “It’s put us into what I think is the next industrial revolution,” says Pedigo. “While a lot of this is going to very large companies, at the same time I wouldn’t discount small or startup companies that offer goods that are unique and useful.” 4K: Opportunities And Challenges "It’s put us into what I think is the next industrial revolution. While a lot of this is going to very large companies, at the same time I wouldn’t discount small or startup companies that offer goods that are unique and useful", says Dave Pedigo of CEDIA “Right now it seems like 4K video distribution will be the next big trend,” says Brad Hintze, Director of Product Marketing for Control4. “4K is the next step in high-resolution video and in our opinion it will not be like 3D. 4K will have staying power. It is for this reason that we came to market with our own suite of 4K video distribution equipment for the Control4 Smart Home.” He believes content is the main driver, both in adoption and hardware design. Network providers like Comcast and Dish Network, all have their own roll-out plans for 4K channels and content, which will eventually bleed into consumer adoption. “But from a hardware and automation perspective, it presents challenges because the industry standards for image display and copy protection are evolving rapidly,” explains Hintze. “Control4 recently released our fully HDCP 2.2 compliant 4K A/V Matrix switch products, which eliminates the black screen produced by playing copy-protected content from studios on non-compliant equipment. Being able to adapt to this wave is what will keep us ahead of the curve!” Intelligent Sensors For Smart Home Industry experts predict that sensors in the home will reach a level of sophistication never considered in early versions of Smart Home. These devices will know when the house is empty and be able to shut off heating and cooling systems. Smart phone with geolocation will then tell it when the owner is on her way back so it can start adjusting the temperature to a comfortable level. “There will be an app on a phone that shows that you’re going to be home in a few minutes,” says Rawlson O’Neil King, Communications Director of the Continental Automated Buildings Association. “Then the house unlocks when you are at the door. The garage opens after detecting you’re close to the house. You have lights that turn on and off at certain times by detecting your presence.” Industry experts predict that sensors in the home will reach a level of sophistication never considered in early versions of Smart Home. These sensors will also end once and for all the question of “did I lock the door?” or “did I turn off the stove?” And, it won’t just be lights that turn on and off. Sensors in washing machines will know that clothes have been put inside and will start the cycle at a time when costs are at a lower level, he adds. These sensors will also end once and for all the question of “did I lock the door?” or “did I turn off the stove?” Home Automation – A Double Edged Sword With the move towards home automation, the coming years will see a greater emphasis on security as more and more devices become accessible – and hackable – on the web. As a security expert at the Federal Aviation Administration prior to joining Vivint as Chief Security Officer, Joe Albaugh saw attacks against critical infrastructure and industry. “The underlying theme was they are computer connected, the data is online and accessible and many of the attacks and threats are exactly the same,” he notes.
Voice biometrics is fast becoming a security imperative due to increasing instances of fraud and identity theft. From identifying customers at banks and call centers to securing mobile devices in a “bring your own device” world, the use of a person’s unique “voiceprint” is fast gaining ground as an identifier. The global voice biometrics market is expected to reach $4.7 billion (U.S.) by 2020. Much of it is being driven by the increasing need to improve security levels in industries such as banking, retail, defense and health care. AGNITiO’s Voice Biometric Solution “The main push has been the need to have secure and friendly authentication procedures,” explains Emilio Martínez, CEO and chairman of voice biometrics provider AGNITiO. “We cannot continue torturing our customers by using long passwords. This cannot be the future.” Founded in 2004, the Spanish company developed a Speaker Recognition Engine that is able to filter the unique characteristics that the vocal tract imprints on the voice’s sound waves. As a dynamic biometric, the voice print can be stored on a computer server and used in the authentication process. It becomes very much like a password that can be revoked and changed to increase security. Voice Biometric Applications AGNITiO worked mainly with government agencies in developing security applications for mission-critical operations in more than 35 countries. The application has been deployed by police, intelligence agencies, and courts where it is used to prevent crime, identify criminals and provide evidence in court. Now voice biometrics has begun to move out of the public space into commercial applications. “The technology is safe enough to be used in authentication,” he explains. “The main application that we have seen so far has been in government and the next step was in call centers.” "The main push has been the need to have secure and friendly authentication procedures", says Emilio Martinez, CEO and Chairman, AGNITiO After its success in government, the technology is now being deployed in financial services and in call centers where customers must be identified during a phone conversation. Typically, authentication has involved asking a series of questions based on public records that assumingly only the caller can answer. Yet, fraudsters may know more about these authentication factors than the real person. Preventing call center fraud has typically taken two different paths. One requires that each caller establish his or her identity through a strong authentication process. “The other way, which is how some of our partners are using voice biometrics, [is based on collecting voices of] those who commit fraud,” says Martínez. They create a “black list” of identified fraudsters, and use their voice prints to identify them in real time while they’re still on the phone. “So you don’t have to bother the one million good customers,” he adds. Multifactor Authentication Process Voice biometrics is becoming one part of a multifactor authentication process. This approach is gaining ground in the area of mobile devices, especially in corporate settings where workers are using their own smartphones and tablets, according to Martínez. “When you talk about ‘bring your own device,’ there are multiple problems security-wise that you have to solve,” he observes. “How do you protect that device and separate your own applications from the business’s applications? What happens when you enter the building? Perhaps you cannot access some of the applications depending on your location and how the system works.” Yet, all the layers of protection are useless if the wrong person gains control of the device. A vital aspect of security then becomes making sure the right person is using the device. Voice biometrics then becomes one part of the multifactor authentication process, which can be used depending on the needs of the employee and the particular environment in which he or she is working. Using a voice ID would not work in a noisy room where many people are present. Yet, it might be the authentication of choice at home or when gloves or dirty hands make fingerprint verification problematic. Future Of Voice Authentication Martínez predicts that in the coming years voice biometrics will become increasingly secure and efficient at the device level. Eventually, all mobile devices will incorporate some kind of embedded voice recognition technology as part of multifactor authentication. Call center customers will also see a greatly increased level of service and speed in which authentication will take place through normal speech.
For the handy “do-it-yourselfer,” home automation can be cheap and easy, if not always good or safe Once home automation – controlling everything from HVAC to door locks to lights to security cameras – was solely the providence of the high-end home. Custom systems were pricey – some ranging upwards of $100,000 or more. That was before widespread access to broadband internet and before everyone started carrying a powerful internet-connected mini-computer – called a smart phone – in their pocket. Home Automation Goes Mainstream These days the Smart Home has gone mainstream. Home automation apps to control lights, locks and cameras can be purchased at The Home Depot or ordered from Amazon.com. Customers of Comcast’s Xfinity Home solution can call a technician to install its “smart” devices, but the service offerings are tiered: On the low end you do it yourself while you have to pay more for a high-end full-service offering that includes home security monitoring. DIY Home Security: A Good Fit? “Over the last few years you’ve seen a move toward I would say DIY and entry-level automation,” says Dave Pedigo, Senior Director of Learning & Emerging Technologies at the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. “There are DIY products, and entry-level solutions you can get from the big providers and they’re very affordable. So the biggest difference is in reliability.” "There are DIY products, and entry-level solutions you can get from the big providers and they’re very affordable. So the biggest difference is in reliability", says CEDIA’s Dave Pedigo For the handy “do-it-yourselfer,” home automation can be cheap and easy, if not always good – or safe for that matter. Instead of paying for monthly monitoring, homeowners can install a web cam, access from a smartphone or tablet and essentially do their own security monitoring. The downside of this approach is readily apparent. Without full-time monitoring, homeowners can easily miss the break-in or the aged parent who falls and can’t get up. Until they log on and take a look, there’s no central station to send medical aid or call the police. Connecting door locks and other devices to the Internet can also open a door to hackers, if the infrastructure isn’t properly protected. Challenges With Mainstream Home Automation “Yes, home automation is becoming more mainstream, which is raising general awareness for the category as a whole,” says Sean Goldstein, vice president of marketing at Crestron. “The elements that are mass market are cookie cutter.” In the high-end space, when people want different interfaces, or to control systems in a more custom fashion, a more advanced home automation system is needed. “Off-the-shelf home automation systems won’t be able to accommodate the needs of every customer and their lifestyle,” he says. To separate themselves from the DIY crowd, these security companies are emphasising the whole home solution “Where I think Vivint differentiates itself is in offering a complete solution to our customers in an affordable way,” says Joe Albaugh, Vivint’s Chief Security Officer. “The key is offering everything from the home security platform to energy management to lighting to cameras and even a doorbell camera. It’s a package that we’ve offered that’s built to work together out of the box.”
As the home automation industry has expanded with an ever growing number of devices and services, companies are placing bets on which wireless protocols will dominate. The past few years the leaders have been Z-Wave and ZigBee. Companies are also using a variety of other standards including Crestron’s Infinet, Insteon, and proprietary technologies such as Lutron’s ClearConnect. Next-Generation Protocols: Bluetooth And Wi-Fi “Right now companies are releasing really interesting and cool products, but they typically operate within a proprietary ecosystem”, says Rawlson O’Neil King, Communications Director of the CABA A few players have also started looking at Bluetooth and Wi-Fi now that low-power variations of these standards are being developed. Some companies have sought to hedge their bets out of a desire to be more ‘manufacturer agnostic.’ “We maintain interoperability with devices that use all of the major forms of control protocol,” says Brad Hintze, Director of Product Marketing for Control4. These include: Wired IP, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave (through third party converter), Bluetooth, Infrared, RS232 (serial) among others. “Being able to work with all of these protocols and their various associated devices, has given us the benefit of widespread adoption amongst over 180,000 homes globally,” he explains. “In addition this is what also maintains the ‘scalability’ of our system, meaning you can get started with a couple of devices in one-room like your entertainment room (using infrared control), but then adapt to future needs with other devices working on newer, more versatile control protocols like Wi-Fi and Zigbee.” “You can get started with a couple of devices in one-room like your entertainment room (using infrared control), but then adapt to future needs with other devices working on newer, more versatile control protocols like Wi-Fi and Zigbee”, says Brad Hintze, Director of Product Marketing for Control4 ZigBee And Z-Wave The popular ZigBee and Z-Wave short-range wireless technologies have proven ideal for the kinds of home-area networks that are becoming prevalent. Based on the IEEE’s 802.15.4 personal-area network radio standard, ZigBee is an open wireless standard. Z-Wave was developed by Zensys (later acquired by Sigma Designs) as a proprietary wireless standard. It’s estimated that more than 500 consumer home control products are sold at Home Depot and Lowes. Rob Puric, Director of Product Management for Honeywell’s Connected Home solution, says “We chose Z-Wave because of the number of manufacturers that were developing products that were based on this protocol. Because it is a mesh network, the more devices that are added in the home the better the connectivity.” Z-Wave’s wireless mesh networking technology allows nodes to communicate with each other directly or indirectly through available relays if they’re within range. Out of range nodes can link with each other to access and exchange information. A Z-Wave network can have up to 232 nodes. At present the industry is locked in a struggle to determine which standards and protocols will become the dominate choice for companies with offerings in the home automation space Promoting Interoperability “We’re at the early days of the deployment of these technologies and their popularity,” explains Rawlson O’Neil King, Communications Director of the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA). “So right now there are a number of different vendors who are emerging and obviously the vendors want you be locked into their particular product ecosystem.” Associations such as CABA are pushing for interoperability so that all devices can work together. “Right now companies are releasing really interesting and cool products, but they typically operate within a proprietary ecosystem,” explains King. “That causes an issue when the goal of a lot of consumers is to have one single app on their phone that allows them to control all of their appliances or their lighting or their heating or their air condition.” Discovering Dominant Network At present the industry is locked in a struggle to determine which standards and protocols will become the dominate choice for companies with offerings in the home automation space. “Consumers want products that work,” says King. “The reality is a lot of the companies, their technical staff and management are embracing a particular technology in almost an ideological way. The dominate standards and protocols will ultimately have be addressable by most devices on some level.”
The appealing convenience of Smart Home devices comes with a sobering downside Security and technology are rushing to offer home automation solutions and build out the Smart Home of connected devices and applications. As cameras, alarms, as well as, thermostats and other appliances become controllable and programmable using Internet-enabled smart phones, they are becoming part of a vast web called the internet of things (IoT). Achieving Greater Value Through Smart Data Exchange This network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors and then connected to the internet holds out the promise to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer or the installer of a particular device. “We are all familiar with the internet of people that was created to exchange information between people,” says Alain Louchez, Managing Director of the Center for the Development and Application of Internet-of-Things Technologies (CDAIT) at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. “The internet of things is different in the sense we will be integrating into this communication space anything and almost everything. This is the world that is around you, and even things that are inside us with the progress of nanotechnology.” The appeal of the Smart Home has long been the ability to automate activities such as locking doors and turning systems on and off. Why worry about whether you locked the front door and turned off the stove, when a simple check of your smart phone can reveal their status? And, if you did forget, do the job from afar. Even through the prices of home automation technology has declined rapidly in recent years, market penetration is only around 10 to 15 percent of U.S. home Home owners can also begin to do the kind of data analysis that was once reserved for big companies with large computer networks. They can access reports on energy or water use and for the first time begin to manage in real time how they spend their dollars. Internet-Enabled Smart Living As products and devices become connected to the internet, they join others on a two-way street. Just as commands can be sent to them, information about their activities can also be collected and downloaded. This process opens up massive potential for data collection and analysis for not just home owners, but companies as well. “When we do market research surveys we query people using mail, phone, or personal surveys,” says Louchez. “In the era of the internet of things, why call on people who have limited memory when we can query directly the washing machine or the dish washer to ask them what happened now that we will have all kinds of sensors to get the information?” A security installer can also check the status of systems they installed. Is there something wrong with the alarm system or the thermostat? Instead of sending a technician out after making an appointment with the home owner, a technician in a distant central station can run the same kind of diagnostics and often correct problems. That book you viewed on Amazon.com, keeps popping up on your Facebook newsfeed with an insistent nudge to buy. While such monitoring can be creepy, most accept it as just the price you pay for being on a “free” social media platform Smart Home Security Risks There are challenges to achieving widespread smart home adoption. Even through the prices of home automation technology has declined rapidly in recent years, market penetration is only around 10 to 15 percent of U.S. home. “Certainly, we are already seeing a number of homeowners buying individual wireless products to solve specific home automation needs,” Louchez explains. “However, how these devices work together to offer a true smart home experience is proving to be quite challenging. For example, there are a number of different standards and protocols currently available for smart home technologies, and stakeholders argue that this hinders the smart home’s full potential.” This easy access to personal data raises questions of privacy and the handling of sometimes sensitive information, according to Louchez. The appealing convenience of Smart Home devices comes with a sobering downside. They can also send a steady flood of personal data to corporate servers, where it’s stored and even shared with companies and individuals you don’t know and over whom you have no control. Social Networking Hazards Users of Facebook and other social media and even smartphone apps have gotten increasingly used to offering their information and activities monitored and accessed. That book you viewed on Amazon.com, keeps popping up on your Facebook newsfeed with an insistent nudge to buy. While such monitoring can be creepy, most accept it as just the price you pay for being on a “free” social media platform. Earlier this year the revelation that some “smart TVs” might be recording conversations and transmitting them to "third parties" caused an uproar Now as connected devices gather personal information from an area long considered private and protected – the bedroom, the kitchen counter, the nursery – the risks are higher than ever. All of the data that various devices and sites have collected can be combined, shifted and then exploited by marketers or even stolen by hackers. Both manufacturers of smart home products and the companies that install them are feeling pressure to upgrade security standards. They are moving to set policies that will regulate who has access to data and how it is used. Earlier this year the revelation that some “smart TVs” might be recording conversations and transmitting them to "third parties" caused an uproar. These sets have voice activated features that enable users to change channel, turn on a DVD or browse the internet by speaking to the screen or remote. The fine print in privacy policies contains warnings that general conversations are also being recorded, and one company even told owners to turn off this function if they were concerned.
Successful companies who want into home automation should begin with the customers they know What does it take to be a success in the rapidly expanding home automation sector? For large and small security companies, making the jump from providing traditional security services to enabling the new Smart Home means dealing with competition. Security Firms v/s Cable And Telco Giants The market is filled with providers of all kind who want a piece of the action. In addition to security companies, cable and telco giants have all rolled out a home automation platform – usually on top of an existing security service. By making it easy for customers to add on a service to the ubiquitous “triple play” of bundled services, these companies are winning converts. “We’re getting a lot of switchers from traditional security providers,” said Dan Herscovici, senior vice president and general manager of Comcast’s Xfinity Home business. Its home automation product has reportedly signed up more than 500,000 subscribers. Comcast expanded its home automation lineup by adding support for devices from a wide variety of connected home companies. The company’s platform will incorporate August smart locks, the Nest thermostat, Lutron lights, and the Rachio sprinkler, among others. Products from nine companies in all will now work with its home automation platform. Comcast installs the “smart” devices and provides a tablet to control them. Customers can buy various levels of service and products from the “do it mostly yourself” to full-service product that includes home security. “I think there’s are lots of money to be made in systems integration whether it’s the entry level or DIY all the way up to just above custom,” says Dave Pedigo of CEDIA “I think there’s are lots of money to be made in systems integration whether it’s the entry level or DIY all the way up to just above custom,” says Dave Pedigo, Senior Director of Learning & Emerging Technologies at the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA). Security firms must also go head to head with electronics installers represented by CEDIA. These businesses, which design and install home theater and other electronics systems, have a leg up when it comes to the higher-end custom solutions. Target Existing Customers Most companies agree that the secret to winning customers is with the right products delivered in a customer-friendly manner Successful companies who want into home automation should begin with the customers they know. “You have the existing customer base in which you can promote these products. On top of that you can see a lot of these companies are really driven right now by smart home offerings,” says Rawlson O’Neil King, Communications Director of the Continental Automated Buildings Association. “Whether it’s the platform or the physical hardware, that’s an entry point.” Strategy Execution The question for security companies – like other competitors in this space – is whether they can convert their market share in other areas into revenue streams within the connected home space. Just having a large customer base for a particular product doesn’t mean those buyers will transition to something else. Just a few years ago, Microsoft announced that its Xbox game console would become the hub of a connected home system. That never happened. “It’s really question of how they determine or decide to execute the strategy,” says King. Most companies agree that the secret to winning customers is with the right products delivered in a customer-friendly manner. “We provide the core package and then we have a lot of customers who like to add on services,” says Joe Albaugh, Vivint’s Chief Security Officer. “We even have a wireless internet service and a file sharing solution. As we see the needs of our customers expanding, we’re trying to meet those needs and provide them in a seamless way rather than having the customer figure out how to put all of this stuff together themselves. We’re building a cohesive package for them.”
Again in 2016, the most well-trafficked articles posted at SourceSecurity.com tended to be those that addressed timely and important issues in the security marketplace. In the world of digital publishing, it’s easy to know what content resonates with the market: Our readers tell us with their actions; i.e., where they click. Let’s look back at the Top 10 articles we posted in 2016 that generated the most page views. They are listed in order here with the author’s name and a brief excerpt. 1. Why Hikvision Is Suddenly Front-Page News: The Company Responds to Security Concerns [Ron Alalouff] It is perhaps [Hikvision’s] spectacular growth that has fueled some of the claims and concerns about the company, most recently in the UK in a front-page article in The Times. While highlighting the company’s success – in the UK it has sold more than a million cameras and recorders installed at sites such as government buildings, airports and sports stadiums – the article questioned whether there is sufficient oversight of the security implications of foreign involvement in critical infrastructure. 2. Tyco and Johnson Controls Merger Driven by Convergence of Security with Smart Building Technology [Larry Anderson] This week, Johnson Controls and Tyco have announced their merger into one company with annual revenue of $32 billion. The new Johnson Controls will be almost a direct reflection of one of the industry’s biggest trends – the move toward technology convergence and smart buildings. 3. Weaponized Robots? Military and Police Response Uses for Robots on The Rise [Randy Southerland] The era of the “killer robot” hasn’t arrived, exactly, but it may not be far off. Police and the military have been using these machines for decades now to disarm bombs and provide reconnaissance in areas where it would be risky to send officers or soldiers. Police and the military have been using these machines for decades now to disarm bombs and provide reconnaissance (Image credit: Antonio Scorza / Shutterstock.com) 4. Security Industry Speculates As Honeywell-UTC Deal Falls Through [Larry Anderson] In a year of mega-deals impacting the security marketplace, one of the big news stories recently was a deal that did not happen – between giants Honeywell and United Technologies (UTC). Financial news pages have been full of the back-and-forth between these two companies. It seems Honeywell wanted to merge with UTC, but UTC declined because of “insurmountable regulatory obstacles and strong customer opposition.” So the deal is off, at least for now. 5. Home Automation: A Growth Area for The Security Industry? [Ron Alalouff] Despite the market entry of some big names such as Google’s Nest, Apple’s HomeKit, and telecommunications giants AT&T and Deutsche Telekom, are we really on the threshold of a home automation revolution? Not quite, according to market intelligence firm Ovum. 6. Bosch-Sony Partnership Amounts to A New Variation On M&A [Larry Anderson] Might there be more such partnerships to come as the number of companies serving the video surveillance market adjusts to its size? Might “softer” consolidation like the Bosch-Sony deal be the next big thing and even slow down the pace of mergers and acquisitions? Time will tell, but it’s clear the benefits of such an approach might be attractive to other companies, too. Bosch will handle the sales and marketing globally for all of Sony’s video surveillance products (outside of Japan) 7. Pelco By Schneider Electric CEO Sharad Shekhar To Revive Pelco Global Video Security Business [Deborah O’Mara] Pelco has made significant investments in key vertical markets, including oil and gas, gaming and casinos, Safe Cities, and airports and seaports, and [the company] will see significant focus on product and business development in these markets. [Pelco] will look to further engage customers in these spaces by focusing not just on products, but on solutions that will solve security and operational challenges. 8. Deep Learning Technology Applications for Video Surveillance [Paul Sun] Although deep learning has been applied to many industries with breakthrough results compared to legacy systems, not all applications are suitable for deep learning. In the field of video surveillance, several applications stand out that can benefit from deep learning. 9. Electronic Locks Prove a Worthwhile Investment for The Security Industry [Michael J. Mahon] Mechanical locks and keys date back thousands of years and have undergone many changes, but the industry’s transition to electronic locks might be the most important, lasting, and surprisingly affordable security and safety change of all. The objective behind the creation of locks so long ago remains: to control a value on the other side of a door. But the security industry as a whole is migrating from the perceived “cheaper” and historical mechanical lock to the newest technology of electronic locks. 10. Understanding Starlight Camera Technology and Low-light Applications in The Security Industry [Alyssa Fann] Starlight cameras are the latest products security companies are adding to their product line-ups, each camera boasting the most comprehensive ability to make darkness visible. While low-light surveillance capabilities have been around on the market for some time, starlight camera technology is redefining low-light surveillance to new levels. See the full coverage of 2016/2017 Review and Forecast articles hereSave Save
On event days, representatives of emergency response & security agenciesare together and running sports venues as a unified group In the world of sports security, alliances are bringing together personnel and agencies that once only talked to each other during an emergency. Consider the recently announced agreement between the Security Industry Association (SIA) and the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4). This memorandum of understanding (MOU) is designed to foster collaboration in addressing the unique security challenges facing stadiums and other sports venues and how best to use security technologies to up the security ante. SIA And NCS4 Stadium Security Partnership “SIA being the leading trade association for electronic and physical security solution providers gives NCS4 the capability to collaborate on identifying current and new products and services that address the future industry needs,” says NCS4 Director Lou Marciani. NCS4 has developed best practices and training programmes including certifications for sports security professionals. As venues have begun installing cameras and made increasing use of metal detectors to screen fans as they enter the ball park, this new deal will help ensure that security directors are installing the right kinds of equipment for their sport. As part of the agreement, the two organizations plan to develop a series of quarterly webinars, create presentations, speak at each other’s events, promote each other’s activities and programs, publish articles in each other’s publications, and eventually develop joint vendor-neutral guidelines and best practices for stadium events. This alliance is just the latest step in the sports security’s profession move toward creating even greater collaboration. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a standardized approachfor security personnel & emergency responders at mass gatherings Emergency Personnel Planning For Incident Management “I would have to say that [collaboration] has become the operating norm,” says Paul Turner, Director of Event Operations & Security for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. “Whereas in previous days a venue would have some police and some fire personnel and medical personnel assigned to that venue and they would just be like another resource that would be onsite. Now the intent is for everyone to do integrated planning where you have a group together of police, fire, medical stadium operations even federal agencies that are all part of building your event plan and then you’re doing unified command.” In this new era, on event days, representatives of all these agencies are together and running the venue as a unified group. Gone are the days when a venue operator would call for help after an incident occurred. “We’re operating in a regular mode and if an incident presents itself then we’re commanding that incident,” says Turner. “It’s not like you have to bring a whole bunch of people together to deal with a particular incident because you’ve been running that event.” The development of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) provided security personnel at venues with a standardized approach to incident management. Developed by the Department of Homeland Security, the program facilitates coordination between all responders including all levels of government with public, private, and nongovernmental organizations. “More and more mass gatherings are being managed under that kind of a structure,” says Turner.
Many of the most well-trafficked articles posted at SourceSecurity.com in 2015 were those that addressed timely and important issues in the security marketplace. In the world of digital publishing, it’s easy to know what content resonates with the market: Our readers tell us with their actions; i.e., where they click. Let’s look back at the Top 10 articles we posted in 2015 that generated the most page views. They are listed in order here with the author’s name and a brief excerpt. 1. Video Analytics Applications In Retail - Beyond Security [Larry Anderson] Analytics can help catch suspects by alerting in real-time. After the fact, analytics used for search purposes are far more effective to identify a theft. Secondly, analytics can be used in retail to track customers, understand their age and gender, manage queue lines, know how long people dwell at an end cap, provide heat maps, etc. 2. Cybersecurity - Hackers Target SCADA Embedded Systems [Vicki Contavespi] “SCADA monitors devices on the grid many times per second and was never intended or designed to have virus protection or security protocols,” says Dave Hunt, an independent homeland security consultant and a founding member of the National InfraGard Electromagnetic Pulse special interest group. In fact, continuous monitoring makes it virtually impossible for a SCADA system to validate a security protocol. 3. Home Automation Standards And Protocols [Randy Southerland] As the home automation industry has expanded with an ever-growing number of devices and services, companies are placing bets on which wireless protocols will dominate. The past few years, the leaders have been Z-Wave and ZigBee. Companies are also using a variety of other standards including Crestron’s Infinet, Insteon, and proprietary technologies such as Lutron’s ClearConnect. Readers were interested in Prism Skylabs' retail applications, utilizing IP cameras as sensors to gather data on customer behavior 4. The Numbers Tell The Video Story At ISC West: 4K And H.265 [Larry Anderson] The latest in video surveillance equipment at ISC West [in 2015] is reflected by the numbers you hear repeatedly on the show floor, numbers like 4K and H.265. Big players like Panasonic have joined the 4K bandwagon in a big way. Sony introduced a 4K camera with a larger sensor size (1-inch) to increase light sensitivity, displaying the better view alongside a “Brand X” competitor in the Sony booth. 5. Video Analytics: Prism Skylabs Envision IP Cameras As Sensors To Expand Their Role In Retail [Larry Anderson] Prism Skylabs is helping to drive a re-evaluation of the role of video cameras in the market. Founded in 2011, the San Francisco cloud service company thinks of IP cameras as sensors that are capable of providing a range of data that can be managed and processed in the cloud to provide more useful information to end-user customers. Prism’s current implementations of the “software as a service” approach focuses on retail merchandizing and marketing applications, but Prism Co-Founder and Senior Vice President Bob Cutting sees many other opportunities too. 6. Video Analytics For Forensics: Analytics-Based Forensic Evidence Collection [Larry Anderson] Another aspect of video analytics is how the technology can be used for forensics. Basically, intelligent searches of video archives provide investigators faster access to any needed video clip based on the content of the video. It’s a monumental improvement over the old days of searching for hours while rewinding and fast-forwarding videotape. 7. IP Video Surveillance Market – Revealing The ‘Industry Standards’ Myth [Mark Collett] Considering the state of the IP surveillance industry, standardization would likely drive vendor consolidation and force companies to evolve in order to succeed. Many industries have successfully implemented standards – including energy, telecommunications, consumer electronics and aerospace. These are all vibrant industries; standards have not driven any of them to extinction, as some in the security industry believe they would. Another topic of interest was the public and private protection of public figures, spurred by the Pope's visit to America earlier this year 8. Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) – The Death Of An Acronym? [Larry Anderson] Lately, we have even begun hearing manufacturers starting to avoid the PSIM term and its historic baggage and preconceptions. When a buzzword takes on a negative stench, it loses its impact. If a PSIM is perceived as negative, the initials lose their usefulness even as a marketing term (which some say PSIM was all along). 9. Avigilon Acquires Fundamental Patents Covering Video Analytics [Larry Anderson] What are the ramifications when a major supplier in the video analytics space owns many of the patents that are fundamental to its competitors’ businesses? It’s one thing to pay licensing fees to a fading player like ObjectVideo (perhaps to avoid costly litigation?), but isn’t paying those fees to a direct competitor another matter? 10. How Public And Private Security Operations Protect Celebrities, Big-Name Executives And Dignitaries [Michael Fickes] According to the Secret Service, dozens of federal, state and local agencies combined forces to protect the Pope in his visits to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City. The Department of Homeland Security designated the Papal visit to New York City a National Special Security Event. For such an event, the Secret Service acts as the lead federal agency for the design, implementation and oversight of the operational security plan. See the full coverage of 2015/2016 Review and Forecast articles here