The one constant is change. Security, though an old term, continues to evolve and as does what it means. Our industry is on the precipice of being able to progress in a way never seen. Technology and innovation are outpacing our wildest ideas.
One of the foundations of our industry’s value proposition is to dispatch police and emergency services in an event to prevent loss. Video verification, IoT devices, Big Data, privacy and cybersecurity have all converged on the security industry. We are no longer a motion detector with a bell to deter but are able to provide lifestyle and business enhancements while protecting people as well as assets.
Video verification is finally growing in adoption as technology has become easier and cheaper to deploy. The rise of quality third-party monitoring companies has helped small and regional companies offer the same level of services and innovation as the large nationals.
Verification is not new, however, our industry was slow to adopt due to challenges with equipment, monitoring and dispatching of law enforcement. Fortunately, the future is bright as analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) offer real solutions to the false positive issues that plague systems.
Emerging Tech Driving Verification
What happens when we marry our security with our data streams? The biggest threat to our industry has not been the multiple-system operators (e.g. telcos, cablecos), DIY or smarter bad guys, it is our inability to eradicate false alarms. Even with all of our advances in technology and standards, we are still at 98% false alarms as an industry.
Though we have materially decreased the number of dispatches, when we do dispatch, it is false. Verification is one effective avenue to improve this; however, it isn’t the silver bullet. One of our greatest opportunities is to interact with end users and law enforcement to drive that number down.
The ability for the end user to interact with their audio or video verified alarm has helped mitigate many alarms, but the future will combine all their data stream devices to help central stations determine, with a high degree of probability, if it is an unauthorized person in that home or business.
Imagine if your thermostat could identify you and turn off your alarm? Or if your camera’s facial recognition could tell you it was not a known person and to dispatch immediately. Imagine if we could transmit all relevant data and video to law enforcement.
The Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) to Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) program is currently able to transmit video to PSAPs that use the protocol with integration through I-View Now’s offering. Law enforcement can now see the same thing as an alarm monitoring center and thusly be better informed.
Many providers are doing work on AI and data management to provide a scoring system for alarms to help drive down the false dispatches. The disparate technology of CAD providers to PSAPs and transmission methods have created slow adoption and difficulty developing standards for law enforcement and manufacturers.
The technology overhaul of Next Gen 911, First Net and infrastructure investment will show this to be a larger trend in the next three to five years as PSAPs become better able to accept data into their facilities. We will continue to see growth in Cloud storage and security as a service (SaaS) in the video and access space.
We are seeing more opportunity in the market place and with a wider variety of price points available — it is accessible to all. Cloud access and video or hybrid local/Cloud continues to come down in price. Many end users do not want to invest in a server head and software purchase to deploy cameras to many sites or access control to many locations.
Companies such as Brivo, Eagle Eye Networks, Infinias and Honeywell are all offering low investment entry points for small applications with Cloud and SaaS offerings. SaaS plans are also being used as a value-add to existing deployments with software such as 3xLogic’s Trends.
One impediment to more widespread deployment of Cloud storage and computing is data and bandwidth needs. Manufacturers continue developing options that require less bandwidth and storage but still lag where it comes to larger applications.
Verify More Than Security
Manufacturers and providers such as Honeywell and Alarm.com allow meaningful interactions with the end user and their systems. Though hyped for many years, we are now just seeing meaningful advances in deep learning machines and AI to provide functional information to our monitoring centers and end users via the Cloud.
We have also seen advances in our process automation with programs like ASAP-to-PSAP, authentication and geo-fencing. This has allowed verification to become a differentiator against the DIY and MIY systems. There are still obstacles to adoption, including the need for more tech-savvy installation and sales teams. This obstacle will be a recurring theme as we deploy more and more sophisticated options and work to educate law enforcement to our options.
Video verification is not just for the bad guy any more. We are also seeing deployment of business and data functions, including facial recognition, employee management, inventory controls and alert notifications. These types of features were previously only available with enterprise-level systems and software. Both small and large businesses now have access to these features, providing added value to our market.
For instance, a small four-camera system can provide video verification after hours, notification of deliveries during business hours, as well as push notifications to the owner of a business when the back door is used. This is the growth of technology as our industry transitions from hardware applications to software applications.
The current customer demands more than just a camera that records to an NVR. The level of interaction is expected to be on par with Amazon or Google. The end user wants constant access to data and ways to use that data to help them manage their life, business, home and family. IoT devices are allowing for deeper integrations of data and devices. Your thermostat knows when you are home, your lights turn on when you enter a room, you play music through a voice command and facial recognition unlocks your phone and cameras.
Be Aware of Cyber Threats
Cloud storage, web access and mobile deployments have led to different and new challenges for our industry in cybersecurity and privacy. This continues to be an evolving threat. Studies show a breach of cybersecurity destroys the trust of your customers, the public and shareholders. Unfortunately, this will never be solved as cyber criminals will always want to exploit vulnerabilities.
The easier we make deployment or the more open our customers make access, the more vulnerable the application can become. This is a difficult problem to try to solve, as many of the cyber criminals are well-funded and able to innovate at a much greater speed as they are not following industry standards or accepted rules of engagement.
This is where partnering with manufacturers with a known cybersecurity plan and established practices will help mitigate this factor. The future of video and video verification will continue to be one of our industry’s greatest opportunities. The trends are showing we are moving towards greater integration and adoption of services attached with video.
If your sales staff doesn’t have video attached to every proposal, you are missing an opportunity. Software offerings such as Alarm.com, Total Connect and I-View Now will continue to see greater adoption as the demand for interaction with the end user continues to grow.
We will need to work as an industry to establish standards and collaboration with law enforcement to ensure we continue to provide value and be able to dispatch law enforcement effectively. Our challenge will continue to be to recruit, retain and train our staff to maximize the growing opportunities.
We must be willing to innovate and embrace new technology to be relevant. The future is now for us to embrace and grow our industry.
Joey Rao-Russell is President and CEO of Kimberlite Corp., an independent Sonitrol Franchise. She is also on the Partnership for Priority Verified Alarm Response (PPVAR) Board of Directors.
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