Analytics and the future of physical security

Axis recently hosted an online event, Understanding Analytics and the practical guide to implementation. During the event, I spoke about the past, present and future of analytics, together with my colleagues, Shaun Southall and Wayne Davis. This has prompted me to consider the technological developments, new methods of working and advances in analytics and artificial intelligence that look set to shape the future of physical security.

Cloud connectivity and the internet of things (IoT) are now key components in the physical security of premises, assets and people. Through the use of smart, interconnected systems of cameras and sensors, security data, when processed through an analytics engine, can be used to produce powerful insights. Such intelligence is proving to be a powerful tool for informing security and operational decision making across many industries and sectors.

Analytics has many possibilities, some of which have risen to prominence in answer to challenges relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to set and monitor occupancy thresholds has proven invaluable in the retail environment as stores re-opened their doors and shop managers needed a way to safely and accurately calculate customer numbers. In the public transport sector, analytics can be used to track passenger movement, triggering alerts or announcements, for example, in response to a breach of face covering regulations or behaviours that could impact others negatively.

Edge processing and open platforms

New applications of security technologies are being made possible by the introduction of edge computing and on-board processing power. We have seen devices such as network cameras become increasingly capable of processing and analysing video in real time at the edge of the network. The ability to export and package video surveillance data in the event of an incident, without the unnecessary time lag and energy drain associated with sending data back and forward to a server, results in an efficient, fast and cost effective means of video capture, analysis and delivery.

In a highly competitive market, those established providers who have realised the benefits of collaboration over a siloed approach are now advocating open platforms. Taking an open approach allows vendors to come together to deliver a customised best-of-breed solution to meet a customer’s exact requirements. The development of solutions that draw on the skills and specialisms of several providers can result in a more powerful offering than that which one provider could deliver in isolation.

Innovation with tangible benefits

Much of the current thinking on artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning, in regard to the processing of video and proliferation of analytics, comes as a result of knowledge sharing between leaders in these fields. Today’s dynamic systems can make use of distributed intelligence for maximum levels of security and efficiency, allowing a non-rigid approach to processing power and a combination of server, cloud and edge capabilities. This approach allows developers to make use of a blend of all of these methods of data processing.

Yet, in order to appeal to a wider market, there is a temptation among vendors to exaggerate the capabilities of their solutions. Often, such technology is unrealistic in its claims, or represents a serious, and oftentimes an indefensible, hardware investment. It’s therefore important for both end user and vendor to discuss requirements, with vendors offering a solution that will deliver to time and budget, with full transparency around cost. While any invention can be made to sound impressive, it is an innovation, with tangible benefits of scalability, logistics and service, that brings an invention to life as a realistic and deliverable solution.

Looking to the future

With multiple sensors, intelligence and edge processing now becoming the norm, we need to put greater emphasis on demonstrating IT maturity and cyber hygiene, building APIs and supporting the latest protocols and languages. This means that the providers of physical security solutions will not only be required to prove their worth in the physical security market, but in the IT space too. Future success looks set to come to those providers, like Axis, who can work collaboratively to create problem-solving solutions, incorporating analytics as a key component, and with a strong focus on innovating for a smarter, safer world.


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