20 January 2020
Philip Ingram MBE explores some of the latest trends and developments in integrated security and how they are leading to safer, smarter cities
We are rapidly approaching a time, if we haven’t achieved it already, where all security capabilities have some form of connectivity with most of it over a network of some description, with different networks being connected. Gone are the days where a security installer was an advanced electrician, now an installer is closer to a network engineer. The interconnectivity of security devices enables integrated security.
This revolution of industrial ‘Internet of Security Things’ is becoming an increasingly important element of security and other technology solutions for the home, commercial sites and buildings. The ability to interconnect, remotely manage and process the data from a vast number of automated, networked devices via the internet is now inescapable.
The elements of an integrated solution are critical and bring with them their own challenges. First, we have the endpoints. The cameras, the gates, the doors, the sensors, then we have the network with its data pipes and storage capabilities and finally we have the management systems, bringing all of the devices together over the network to do what they are supposed to.
However, with this revolution in capability comes a price in additional threats and each element of this industrial ‘Internet of Security Things’ has its own vulnerabilities. The security environment has just become more complex. As more business moves to a networked and cloud environment, data is frequently spread across different management tools, clouds and IT environments requiring teams to spend more time on digital integration and less time on what can be referred to as traditional security.
There are an increasing number of use cases for integrated security solutions and the boundaries of what the technology is being used for is ever increasing outside the traditional security remit.
The world's largest CCTV manufacturer, Hikvision, have just released a new Video and Audio Convergence Solution, linking IP speakers with cameras, access control systems and alarm devices. When the CCTV system automatically detects an anomaly the IP speakers can immediately play programmed audio warnings. One particular use would be at railway or underground stations when passengers cross warning lines and move too close to the edge of the platform; a safety use case coming from a traditional security equipment solution.
When talking about integrating solutions with uses perimeter security, petrol stations, metro and railway stations, office buildings, and much more, Frank Zhang, Hikvision’s general manager of the international product marketing said: “We believe convergence will be a new trend in the near-future for the security industry.”
At a macro level, integrated security solutions form the backbone to smart cities, smart complexes and smart buildings. TechTarget, a leading B2B technology purchase intent data and services provider, defines a smart city as, “a municipality that uses information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve both the quality of government services and citizen welfare.”
John Davies, the managing director at TDSi, said in a recent blog: “When it comes to Smart Cities it’s easy to be dazzled by the potential of the technology, but it’s vital that planners and management teams take a step back and consider prime concerns such as safety from the very beginning. Once you consider safety (and the perception of it) it’s much easier and more effective to plan a highly efficient Smart City. Technology is an amazing enabler, but the basic processes need to be in place to ensure it becomes a help rather than a hinderance!”
That enabling technology concept is critical and ensuring different technologies can integrate into a system is the art of ensuring a security system is truly integrated. To do that a process that has been in the IT community of developing an integrated security strategy is essential. Without a strategy the potential to procure capabilities that will not be able to exploit their full functionality or even in some cases could add additional vulnerabilities to any network, increases.
An integrated security strategy provides a number of benefits. The first is a proactive identification of risks. Traditionally the approach to providing a security solution has been reactive to a particular threat and multiple solutions procured to detect and stop threats. A proactive approach, needed to ensure a truly integrated security solution can block threats from a wide range of sources, and combat them if necessary, without necessarily needing to buy additional technology every time a new risk is identified.
Stuart Thompson, the CEO of the UK based security capability manufacturer Viseum, said: “The trouble with buying lots of devices for specific issues is often when you come to integrate them you find you can’t or there is some other difficulty. It is vital that a whole system approach is used from the outset as you will find that this is much more cost effective in the longer term.”
The second benefit is that of ease of scalability. Because any integrated solution, born out of a properly planned and thought through strategy, will have a common set of rules and standards that can be applied across the complete infrastructure. This by its very nature has ease of scalability built into it. It is significantly less complex to scale a single integrated security model than to scale many different ones.
The third benefit is the ease by which any integrated solution can have future proofing built into the concept. What is used today may not meet the needs of tomorrow. If we just look at how video quality has improved over the years and the amount that can be done with 4k video because of the detail in the data, compared with even 1080p, future proofing is essential. It is often difficult to predict what is coming next with technology or the additional uses that can be put to technologies. A perfect example is the marketing use of heatmapping customer movement around retail stores to ensure the right goods are placed where people gather.
In an integrated setting instead of having to write a new set of security rules or deploy new tools you can simply extend the ones you already have in place to support any new additions to your infrastructure.
The final benefit is the driver for any business plan. An integrated security solution will save time and money. Time, because monitoring of multiple endpoints can be done through a single interface and updates on that interface can bring additional functionality. Often management systems are designed with upgradability built in. Also, when it comes to updates, this can usually be done automatically thereby reducing costs and making any system inherently more efficient.
So, what of the future? Integrated security systems lend themselves to being made even better through the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the Big Data that they produce. That Big Data will enable more predictive approaches to security such as pinpointing where potential crime hotspots could be developing. In some places where this is happening already, the AI in the integrated systems has the ability to deploy police or security teams automatically when certain criteria are met. Efficiency increasing, costs decreasing, reaction times improving, and the criminals left with nowhere to go.
Stuart Thompson from Viseum added: “We always suggest an integrated approach as anything else just doesn’t make sense anymore. As sensors get better, compression standards improve allowing more data to be distributed and analytics improve – there is so much more that can be done with fewer systems yet keep us safer.”
In today’s fast-moving, technology dependent data heavy environment, integrated security is an essential component of not just a comprehensive security strategy but a strategy to make best use of smart systems thereby enabling smart buildings, complexes and cities making them safer buildings, complexes and cities. Its benefits are clearly lower operational expenses through more efficient technology and better usage of existing equipment and the increase of staff productivity through a single, integrated interface to all control systems. Additional benefits are better risk management, improving strategic planning as well as very real potential for full life cycle costs.
It is difficult to imagine a case where a modern security solution would not be an integrated one, but to make best use and ensure true longevity the planning of the solution before capability procurement is essential. Most security solution providers have comprehensive integrated security solutions available.