Could Professional Security Systems Learn from Consumer Tech?
I’ve been in the security industry a long time. And it’s really changed in recent years with the advent of IP-enabled systems.
The thought occurred to me about just how much it has changed when I saw an advertisement recently for a home security video doorbell. I won’t mention the company, since there are many providers offering similar solutions, but one of the key sales messages was how simple it was to deploy their product.
Indeed, in the reviews of the product online, it was pointed out by several satisfied owners of the product, that they had no problem:
- installing the device;
- linking it to an existing electrical source from the old analogue doorbell;
- finding the device on their home wifi system and;
- controlling it directly through an app.
They simply needed a screwdriver and tools to affix the device to the front door – very basic DIY not beyond anyone capable of hanging a picture or wiring a plug at home. And they needed access to their home wifi system – very basic IT not beyond anyone under a certain age, or with a minimal understanding of computers or mobile phones.
The very notion of this level of simplicity of application of a complex security node is one which was unthinkable in the professional security industry not so long ago. More than this, it can be linked to an existing home security system, managed and controlled remotely and even set up to exclude certain activities or know if you are home. This is, frankly, a level of technology and security that would have involved a huge financial outlay and considerable extended systems of hardware and software to operate in the professional environment until very recently.
Consider added facial recognition technologies, cloud hosting and analytics and it’s clear just how advanced this ‘simple’ home security really is. The level of security, perhaps, that might only exist around applications with the very highest levels of security, such as airports or nuclear facilities.
For the moment, we’ll leave aside how easy it is to hack home security systems or ownership considerations of data captured.
Don’t get me wrong, consumer home security devices are not at the level required for most industrial or professional applications, but that simplicity message is one which I have noticed really taking hold in industrial applications too.
There’s an important parallel to be made here – and that’s that the hardware for this technology is now cheap enough for almost any application where security is important. It’s the software that has the power to add intelligence and “the where and how” the software is deployed that is the primary security consideration. This is where the computing platform comes in…
Bearing in mind that the clever bit is being driven by the software, there’s a very strong argument to suggest that the professional and industrial environments benefit greatly from seeking similar levels of simplicity for set up and maintenance. By which I mean, with the advent and maturity of Edge computing platforms and virtualisation technologies, security professionals are increasingly realising that the software side – the IT – is now well within their realm of capability to deploy. In fact, I’m having more and more conversations with professional security systems providers who want to sell end-to-end solutions, not just the hardware, and who realise that by including the compute platform in their security solutions, they are supplying something that can easily be deployed and maintained by security personnel without input from the IT domain. The simplicity from the consumer market is now expected in the professional market.
While home security systems would not be secure enough for most professional applications, and while cloud storage and connectivity is often the enemy of cyber-security – the inherent security of managing data at the edge – close to the application itself offers benefits for many in the security industry.
If it’s simple enough to deploy Edge computing platforms for security applications (and we believe it can be done with next-to-no IT capability, like in the consumer space) then the potential for a new era of security applications that are intrinsically more secure has arrived, by virtue of localising the data collected. In addition, these applications are cheaper to deploy and cheaper to maintain by virtue of their simplicity and… with the added reassurance of full redundancy by virtue of Always-On approaches, real change for security applications has certainly arrived. It’s time to build the computing into professional security applications and make it much, much easier for end users to get the benefits and control they want – just like they can have at home.