Articles by Steve Surfaro
In my coverage of China Tariffs impacting the security industry over four recent articles, products on the tariff schedules routinely integrated into security solutions included burglar and fire alarm control and transmission panels, video surveillance lenses, HDTV cameras used for broadcast use cases and fiber optic media converters. The general ‘callout’ of ADP (Automatic Data Processing) devices and peripherals technically includes servers, workstations and microcomputers, all of which are commonly used to support security solutions. The underperformance, from June 15 to August 24, of U.S. stocks with high revenue-exposure to China, and that of Chinese stocks with high revenue-exposure to the United States was significant and almost identical at 3.2%, significant losses to some investors already involved in security industry M&A activity. Significant Public Safety Facial Recognition (FR) vendors leveraging AI expanded their market focus to retail and public safety While it was not apparent that practitioners’ security program budgets kept pace with the growth of the more popular solution providers like video surveillance and cyber security, the ICT industries supporting the security economy continued to expand, especially in wireless and wired infrastructure, including preparations for 5G wireless rollouts. These omnipresent technologies drove significant public safety, smart city and public venue projects in 2018. Facial Recognition (FR) vendors leveraging AI expanded their market focus to retail and public safety. In 2018, virtually every public presentation, webinar and published Q&A on social media monitoring and facial recognition technologies I worked on, involved significant pushback from privacy advocates, almost to the point of alarmism. Massive Risk Reduction Several solution providers in these areas have made significant strides on data protection, accuracy, powered by AI and documented crime reduction cases; however, this real news is quickly shadowed by privacy advocates, seemingly ignoring massive risk reduction, especially in the case of active assailants and gang-related crime. Will FR become mainstream? The cautious security industry may take a cue from the maverick retail industry, sports venue and VIP verification solution providers that grew in 2018. 2019 trends: presupposition or repudiation; winners and losers. Chinese tariffs have had a huge impact on the security industry, which can be seen from changes to U.S and Chinese stocks Although technology adoption forecasting is inexact, there are definitive opportunities in the security industry born on necessity. With the widespread problem of false alarm transmission and inability for first responders to ‘be everywhere,’ developers of solutions that provide automated verification and alternative security incident detection are expected to become mainstream. Promising Detection Systems The use of AI, NLP, LiDAR, UAS (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles aka drones) with surveillance and thermal imaging will grow, mostly due to higher acceptance in other industries like autonomous vehicles, rail safety, terrain and post devastation mapping/rescue. However, legacy ‘listing’ or certification organizations will be forced to make an important decision for their own survival: work toward integrating these promising detection systems into acceptance by insurance, licensing and standards development organizations. 2019’s ‘true’ Industrial Philanthropists will be needed to fund early warning tech for firefighters and the presence of active assailants 2019’s ‘true’ industrial philanthropists will be needed to fund early warning tech for firefighters and the presence of active assailants. For these use cases, 5G infrastructure rollouts, FR acceptance, lower cost perimeter detection and long range object and fire recognition by LiDAR and Thermal imaging will all be watched closely by investors. Should public agencies and philanthropical solution providers in the security industry cross paths, we may just yet see a successful, lifesaving impact. Cyber Risk Profile The ‘Digital twin’ refers to a digital replica of physical assets (physical twin), processes, people, places, systems and devices that can be used for various purposes. Your ‘Security Digital Twin’ has a similar physical and cyber risk profile, either through common threats, similar assets or both. Good news: managing your risk, protecting assets and securing your facilities in 2019 will get easier as security digital twin profiles will grow in maturity, while keeping their data sources private. This will be accelerated by the maturity of AI-based, auto-generated visualizations and image recognition, that happens to also drive the FR solutions. The 5G wireless infrastructure market is emerging as far more of a quantum leap in connectivity, like ‘wireless fiber optics’ performance, than an upgrade to 4G LTE. The 5G infrastructure market will be worth $2.86 billion by 2020 and $33.72 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 50.9%. Intelligent Applications The explosion of ingested voice, video, and meta-data, the interconnectivity of devices, people and places, and the integration of intelligent applications into expanding ecosystems all require faster communications. To be more accurate, 5G rollouts will accelerate in 2019; however, current project funding will include and be impacted by future enterprise security connectivity: 5G and FWA (Fixed Wireless Access). 5G rollouts will accelerate in 2019; however, current project funding will include and be impacted by future enterprise security connectivity Quite simply put, larger solution providers are gently coaxing practitioners into seemingly ‘open systems;’ the negative discovery during an M&A process, audit or integration with a smart city’s public/private partnerships will continue to be revealed, and related industries will force reform. Autonomous things will be enabled by AI and image recognition. With few affordable rollouts of security robots and outdoor unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) that leveraged platforms popular with research and even NASA, the autonomous security robot was mostly MIA from a security practitioner’s program in 2018. Perimeter Intrusion Detection One platform was even accused of intimidating homeless people in a public place, at a major city. Industries mutually beneficial are often unaware of each other; this will change gradually: one major domestic airport is currently evaluating a UGV platform performing perimeter intrusion detection, runway weather conditions and potential aircraft taxiing dangers. The platform is being used largely in transportation research, yet offers significant opportunities to the security industry. Research firm Gartner estimates that 70% of today’s technology products and services can be enhanced with ‘multi-experience’-based VR/AR/MR The ‘immersive experience’ of virtually any security or threat detection is a twist on virtual/augmented/mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) with additional sensory features. Although VR/AR/MR is well underway in other industries, there are several companies with solutions like VR-based active assailant training that could provide a fighting chance for practitioners, employees, visitors, faculty and children. Research firm Gartner estimates that 70% of today’s technology products and services can be enhanced with ‘multi-experience’-based VR/AR/MR. Security Ecosystem Members Not necessarily MIA, but of special mention is the need of security and safety practitioners to prioritize communications systems over ‘nice to have’ expansive video surveillance systems for mass casualty threats. This will eventually improve with 5G for Enterprise solution rollouts. At the past GSX and upcoming CES Technology trade shows, a new roundup of technologies is discovered: a wider diversity of protection promise to save ASIS members on their technical security program is realized. With each of the ‘winners,’ (5G, AI, NLP, LiDAR, UAS [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles aka drones], thermal imaging, digital security twins and smart-city-friendly technologies) it is both exciting and challenging work for both security practitioners and solution providers. All things equal and with the necessary technology acceptance testing processes, this is a truly great time for security ecosystem members.
The great increase in the amount of data is driving physical security to the cloud Physical security is migrating to the cloud — because it improves the performance of physical security technology while holding down costs. “Essentially what is happening is that physical security technologies are growing more powerful and generating more and more data,” says Steve Surfaro, business development manager and security industry liaison with Axis Communications, which bases its North American headquarters in Chelmsford, Mass. “The great increase in the amount of data is driving physical security to the cloud where data can be economically stored and analyzed,” says Surfaro, who also chairs the ASIS Applied Sciences Council. “And we’re seeing more and more cloud-based solutions for physical security.” For instance, the transit authority in Atlanta has an app you can download to a smartphone, continues Surfaro. Called “See Something, Say Something,” it enables smartphone users, who see a security problem, to take a photograph and upload it into the transit authority’s cloud. Cloud technology analyses the photo, locates it, focuses the nearest video camera on the incident and alerts the security officer monitoring the camera. What Is The Cloud? The cloud can provide a full portfolio of physical security services for a fraction of what you would pay to own the storage, computing power and applications that add up to physical security A large number of servers connected together and in turn connected to the Internet forms a cloud. A server is a computer with much more storage and much more computing power than a desktop. A single Amazon Web Services data center has between 50,000 and 80,000 servers. All told, observers estimate that Amazon Web Services may have between 3 million and 5 million servers. The other major cloud services — Google, Microsoft, VMware, Citrix and others — each probably has well over 1 million servers. The cloud itself is a gigantic set of hardware that provides storage, computing capacity and applications that end-users rent. The applications, often referred to as Software as a Service or SaaS, include physical security services such as access control and video surveillance. Access Control In The Cloud “To use the cloud for access control, you build a small local network that includes card readers connected to an access control panel,” explains Surfaro. “Then the local network connects to the Internet, which will connect you with your cloud provider.” Some companies build their own clouds and connect their access control networks by way of an intranet. The cloud SaaS stores and analyzes access control events. In fact, the application will probably run at both the cloud location and your location. “You will be making access decisions locally and won’t want to connect to the cloud every time you open a door,” Surfaro says. “The cloud will analyze transactions, because the analysis requires the level of computing power available there.” Now Add Video The cloud itself is a gigantic set of hardware that provides storage, computing capacity and applications that end-users rent. The applications, often referred to as Software as a Service or SaaS, include physical security services such as access control and video surveillance. Video works differently than access control. The cameras connect to the cloud video management application through the company network and Internet (or intranet for private cloud owners). Video requires a lot of bandwidth, which would be more expensive to store on the cloud than on local servers. So users typically store video locally. When you request an analysis, the cloud application retrieves only the pertinent data from the local storage and performs the analysis in the cloud. Putting It Together With these systems, you can ask the cloud for a list of who carded into a building in your Austin, Texas, office park last night. A couple of laptops are missing, and the system did not alarm for a break-in. So the thief probably had a card. You can request video of anyone that entered. You can also ask for motion-activated video. That may well show where the person went. Did he or she go toward the offices with the missing laptops? The cloud can provide a full portfolio of physical security services for a fraction of what you would pay to own the storage, computing power and applications that add up to physical security. “Other advantages include scalability,” says Surfaro. “Your cloud system can get bigger when needed and smaller when you don’t. You pay for what you need as you go.” Get your head up into the clouds. There are many physical security benefits up there.
Security cameras can earn a return on investment (ROI) that goes beyond security Today’s security camera technology can help speed entrance screening and provide video under very low light conditions. In each case, security cameras can earn a return on investment (ROI) that goes beyond security. One difference between today’s security cameras and older generations of camera technology is something called wide dynamic range or WDR. It is a feature that enables a camera to produce detailed video images under a wide range of lighting conditions. Conventional cameras produce good video in well-lighted areas. In poorly lighted areas, they produce dark images that are difficult to make out. Cameras with WDR can produce detailed images of objects and faces in bright light as well as low light. WDR Security Applications By resolving facial details clearly, WDR cameras can help with entrance screening. Organizations that employ a lot of contractors — state and university campuses, for instance — can develop long lines at entrance-screening desks. If 20 contractors arrive at the front entrance to go to work at 9 a.m., it could take an hour or more to get them all inside using pen and paper. “Well placed cameras and an automated visitor management system can help speed the throughput of people and vehicles into and out of facilities,” says Steve Surfaro, industry liaison with Lund, Sweden-based Axis Communications and chairman of the Security Applied Sciences Council for ASIS International. “An established means of gaining entry is to present a driver’s license,” continues Surfaro, “which security needs to verify by checking the photo against the individual’s face. Today’s cameras, usually at the front entrance, use wide dynamic range to record detailed facial features. "Well placed cameras and an automated visitor management system can help speed the throughput of people and vehicles into and out of facilities" “Once the face is recorded, the system will check it against faces previously enrolled in the system. When the individual presents a trusted document — probably a driver’s license — the security officer compares it with the person that is known and in the system. This way you can tell if this is a fake ID. If the person is new to the facility, the officer can enroll him or her.” Today’s license plate capture systems can speed visitor check-in even faster. License capture cameras placed at the entrance to the facility or parking lot can read license plates and check them with the National Crime Information Center, which receives reports of stolen vehicles from police across the country, says Surfaro. By the time the driver reaches the access-control desk, a security officer can have the visitor’s badges for those already in the system printed up and ready. Seeing In The Dark Today’s cameras can also see in very low light conditions, which can boost security while helping maintenance to work more efficiency. “These ultra low light cameras find existing light and resolve images,” Surfaro says. “That makes it possible to see and respond to trouble hidden by darkness. Urban Institute research shows that if you respond to trouble as it happens, bad actors will know that someone is watching.” Of course, it also helps security officers to see and understand how they should respond to problems. Security officers, of course, can handle most problems. But the cameras can also identify dangerous situations that require a police response. "Today’s camera technology has made them even more valuable to security — and also capable of producing a return on investment" How Does That Help Maintenance? There are sustainable, green policies and regulations requiring facilities to turn off the lights in boiler rooms, mechanical rooms, elevator machine rooms, telecom rooms — rooms where people generally don’t go — until there is a maintenance problem. “Up until now, it hasn’t been worth putting cameras in these rooms and areas — because the cameras wouldn’t see anything,” Surfaro said. “Ultra-low light cameras can see. So now, the maintenance crew can see what has happened in these areas and take the right tools and parts on the first trip.” Cameras have always been valuable security tools. Today’s camera technology has made them even more valuable to security — and also capable of producing a return on investment.