By Jamie Ridenhour
The value of technology in the security industry has been growing at a rapid pace over the past few decades. In the coming year we expect to see some significant advancements in technology along with new integrations, new models, new use cases, new everything.
Like all industries, the past couple of pandemic influenced years have brought some unusual challenges for the security industry. Businesses have had to change the way they operate, and this has had a direct impact on the role of security providers and the expectations of clients and consumers. Labor shortages and higher wages have also affected both the security industry and the clients they serve.
Advances in security related technology have made it a viable option for reducing labor costs while improving the level of protection and service provided. Cameras, optical recognition, portable hardware, AI-driven applications, management software, and connectivity have all become integral parts of the typical protection solution. We can expect more of the same in 2022 with some new opportunities and new risks that will need to be taken into consideration.
The advancements in camera technology have been impressive during the last few years and this year will likely bring even more functionality. Consumers and businesses alike have taken advantage of the massive uptick in the availability of reasonably priced, yet very functional camera systems. Wireless cameras and cloud storage will become an even more practical alternative to expensive servers and cabling installations.
What is done with the collected video and audio is an area where we expect to see some of the most significant advancements. The rapidly developing area of artificial intelligence (AI) will pay major dividends for security providers in the coming year. AI driven recognition of faces, vehicles and sounds is now available even in some entry level consumer cameras. We expect security firms to take advantage of AI to automate surveillance and reduce labor costs.
We will likely also see AI-based camera systems become a viable alternative to traditional burglar alarm systems that rely on motion and contact sensors alone. AI systems can filter out motion and noise from wind or animals and can decrease the number of false positives and allow operators to focus on only the important events. We will also continue to see wider adoption of cameras that can differentiate between friendly faces and strangers.
An unexpected side-effect of the pandemic has been an increase in retail theft and organized retail crime. High levels of aggression and violence have increased the risk even further for retailers. We will expect to see an increase in the security implementation at many retailers and video and audio capabilities will be an important part of the solution. Many retailers will likely use video surveillance providers to augment their existing programs.
Organizations will seek a higher ROI by leveraging the cameras and AI systems to gather business intelligence, as well. AI can provide additional benefits by generating metrics on traffic density, wait times, and other customer behaviors. In an era of flexible work environments, video analytics will also aid businesses in gathering intelligence on office space utilization by monitoring meeting room, office, and space usage.
Privacy concerns will inevitably arise from this increase in monitoring and recording and we expect increased discussion around this issue in the coming years. As with many areas in the security industry, surveillance protocols must strike the right balance between protection and privacy. The general public is getting more accustomed to the idea of being constantly recorded, but organizations must still be sure to evaluate and understand the legal and ethical risks involved.
Making sure surveillance devices are secure will become a high priority. Many wireless devices are relatively insecure right out of the box, creating an opening for hackers to breach systems and collect private data. Organizations are beginning to understand the necessity of thorough cyber security protocols and we can expect more concern around the privacy of surveillance data.
AI will also play a role in the increased use of robotic devices now and in the near future. A good example is the Wally HSO from Robotic Assistance Devices that we discussed last year. A Wally HSO can automate employee check in and health screening, freeing valuable time for a security officer. Robotic devices are ideally suited for perimeter patrols and access monitoring. Drones are a form of robotic monitoring that we can expect to see more now and in the near future as well.
We also recently discussed advancements in security force management and we can expect to see a wider adoption of technology as time goes on. Essentially, a force management application is a single portal for logging, incident reporting, and communication, all using a handheld device. Access is available to front line personnel, back-office managers and even clients, allowing for streamlined communication between all stakeholders.
Global Security Operations Centers (GSOCs) will be another area of increased activity in the years to come. Larger organizations will utilize the capabilities of such centers to not only monitor camera feeds and assess resource needs, but also to analyze risk. Social media activity, employee travel, political outlook, and changing weather patterns can all be taken into account by a GSOC program.
All of this new technology will drive an increased focus on training. From front line officers to salespeople, everyone in the security organization must be up-to-date on the applications and hardware solutions that are in use. Training and certification will continue to be an important differentiator between security integrators. In this vein DSI Security is leveraging its new Learning Management System Superior Service Online Academy to make training as accessible and engaging as possible.
It has been an interesting and challenging couple of years for many organizations, and the security industry is no exception. We can expect 2022 to bring advancements in technology that will be both useful and challenging for the security provider.