Check that horizon – change is on the way
We’ve reached a tipping point in the world of security technologies. Our industry is on the cusp of a great leap forward. Closed circuit television (CCTV) analytics is only one of the many technologies that provides us with enormous potential to broaden the scope for the use of CCTV that’s far beyond its traditional role as a security device. That’s all great news - however this creates challenges and risks on a new scale.
It’s not too dissimilar to the tipping point we passed a few years ago where there was suddenly a flood of smart phone apps that delivered exceptional and sometimes amazing value to the end-user. Who hasn’t thanked the Google gods for their maps? Or Shazam for helping music lovers to name that great new song playing in the background?
In the 30 years that I’ve been involved with the security industry there have only been a handful of technology developments that could be considered marginally significant. But we’re now about to experience a tipping point where there will be a flood of extremely significant developments in a very short period of time. In fact, when it happens, it’s unlikely there will be enough expertise and resources to implement them effectively and professionally at the rate end-users will want to them delivered.
Why a ‘tipping point’?
There are many reason for the upcoming ‘tipping point’ in the security world, but one is most significant.
Cameras are now everywhere, not only for security but also for operations and safety.
It has been reported that Britain is now being watched by a staggering 4 – 6 million cameras – possibly one for every 10 people. Closer to home, you can walk through the malls and streets of any Australian city, and see camera numbers increasing. If you walk into a bank, hospital, shopping centre, business, store, casino… there are cameras throughout. Body worn, drone and vehicle cameras are mobile and are also increasing in numbers.
CCTV analytics that can be used with any one of these cameras is just one example of how this sudden burst of new capabilities will change the security industry.
The manufacturers have been proposing analytics for 15 years as the solution to significantly increase the value of CCTV to manage the data. The examples are numerous: video motion detection and classification, facial recognition, automatic number plate recognition, people counting, left/removed object, traffic accident identification, abnormal crowd activity/movement and guard tracking.
It’s still developing technology that has a way to go – very few analytics deliver real value to the end-user at the moment – but it’s coming. And when it does, the benefits to business and government will be huge.
So far, most cameras operate as independent systems, but work is underway now to find how to link them. Here’s where another significant change is coming and it too is not too far down the track.
Those videos that you occasionally see on the news that seem very fragmented look that way because only one frame is shot every second to save memory. These are becoming a thing of the past. These days storage is much cheaper and the cost is going to continue to reduce at an exponential rate.
The CCTV industry uses extremely large amounts of data, more so than most other industries. The growth in data capacity and what that has enabled us to achieve is similar to what we saw happen with email. At first you could only send words, then suddenly you could send pictures. Now, those networks are so good that we all stream and watch videos and movies in real time.
The same growth in capacity that has enabled us to watch movies on our phones and computers has also meant that CCTV has grown beyond its traditional role – security. Adaptions include use in operations (to staff) and remotely monitoring equipment in dangerous areas to increase workplace safety. There’s a whole variety of uses for CCTV - often one camera can be used for several functions. For example, a casino may have a camera at the front door, obviously for security, which can also be used to monitor trips and falls. Taken a step further, that same video output can be analysed to monitor the number of people coming in and out, which can guide HSEQ efforts and personnel requirements.
CCTV is providing us with huge and ever growing source of quality data. Processing, data and storage are being enhanced exponentially. Costs are dropping. Technology is going ballistic – no-one can see the end of it. It is quite reasonable to predict that in the next few years CCTV/Security technologies will take a quantum leap forward.
The future of security
Specialists in this field can help with the process to deliver real value and ensure that the system you choose meets your individual business requirements.
But don’t be fooled. Many profess to be specialists in the field of security, but have no more qualifications than the average DIYer.
For the job to be done right, there are some non-negotiables. Specialist organisations not only require security expertise, but more importantly, comprehensive Information & Communications Technology (ICT) expertise.
An organisation offering a full complement of architect and network engineers with a proven track record to manage all the critical ICT minutia, including bandwidth, data flow, VLAN design, resolution, multicast/unicast design, resilience, cyber security, QoS, and the like (stay with me here). And the capability to offer Managed Services.
To summarize the above, they must have the track record and skill to ensure the tried and proven process is employed to:
- first, listen to the client’s non-technical business and operational requirements
- second, go into the market and tease out what really does work and
- third, implement only those systems that deliver the value that the client needs.
As the possibilities of CCTV exponentially expand, so does the risk of not aligning yourselves with those who can link tech improvement with business improvements – be it reduced cost, increased safety or better analytics. Ultimately, it’s like sorting the proverbial wheat from the chaff. The benefits of partnering with the right organisation for the consumer and big business alike will be reduced operational costs, improved security and increased safety – perhaps not killing three birds with one stone, so much as teaching them to sing in unison. And getting it on video.
Steve Wiebusch - Senior Consultant, Industrial Technology