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I spy with my little eye

22 March 2023

We asked three experts on security how the surveillance technology is changing and innovating, and this is what they said…

Security surveillance is a growing market. In the USA, according to Statistica, the information security products and services market was forecast to exceed 172 billion U.S. dollars, up from 150 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. Other market sub-segments like video surveillance cameras were valued at 35 billion U.S. dollars in 2022.

It’s also an essential part of FM, ensuring that data, property and people are kept safe – indeed, this why this year’s PFM Partnership Awards will feature a ‘Partners in Security’ category for the first time. 

And, like all aspects of FM, it’s undergoing rapid tech-driven transformation. We spoke to three experts in security on the changes that are taking place in this market, and how they’re shaping the future.

“Intelligent video analysis is revolutionising facilities management”
Simon Randall, CEO of AI-powered video privacy and security company, Pimloc

“Video security surveillance has been a fundamental aspect of facilities management, promoting accountability and safety for years. CCTV technology has remained a top choice for securing perimeters, deterring unwanted behaviour, and improving people's safety. With the integration of AI and deep learning, intelligent video analysis is revolutionising facilities management.

AI-powered video systems offer a comprehensive and reliable visual representation of buildings, providing managers with large amounts of information to make informed decisions that maintain security and optimise the safe running of services. Using computer vision, these systems can identify and categorise people and objects based on various parameters such as shape, size, and colour, and track anomalies in movement across a site or building, triggering automatic alerts in real time.

The applications for safety and security are numerous. For instance, cameras on site perimeters can automatically detect fallen fences or alert security to potential trespassers or suspicious activity. Inside a building, they can identify broken, out-of-place, or overheating equipment using thermal imaging. Integrated with other systems, they become even more powerful, for example, counting footfall across locations, use for smart parking, or automatic license plate or facial recognition.

Aggregating and compiling data over time, intelligent video systems empower management with insights into patterns and trends across the facility, helping identify potential safety issues before they even occur. This saves time, manpower, and money while delivering services that keep buildings, sites, and employees safe.

The benefits of video intelligence must not come at the cost of data security and privacy, and facility management professionals must ensure compliance with data protection regulations or face serious financial and reputational consequences. Implementing software that anonymises personally identifiable information, such as faces, heads, and number plates, makes video footage compliant with GDPR, maximising the potential of using visual data for intelligent video analysis, whilst also safeguarding data privacy.”

“Concerns remain over personal data”
Chris Bishop, Marketing Director at scenario-based video analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) firm Ipsotek

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and governments turned to and embraced innovative technologies to manage the demanding challenges affecting all walks of life as the pandemic changed the way society functioned. 

Examples of such technologies include IoT sensors, 5G, Edge based computer vision platforms and AI technologies that use existing CCTV camera IP streams to detect anomalies. While technologies such as Face Recognition and Face Mask detectors were not widely adopted due to privacy concerns, other technologies have found a permanent place in security-based solutions post pandemic.

One of the technologies that is fast becoming ubiquitous is the adoption of AI - Artificial Intelligence. Throughout COVID we learnt a new phrase “maintain social distancing” which became the new mantra for many governments, as did the wearing of face masks on public transport, in public areas and in some countries as soon as you left your home. 

AI solutions capable of automatically determining a person’s distance from others became commonplace. The phrase Computer Vision and Edge Processing are now also commonplace and represent a change in the way safety, security and surveillance systems are designed and deployed.

While the adoption of the aforementioned technologies is gaining traction, concerns remain over how they might use an individual’s personal data or information. Convincing society that AI geospatial algorithms which can automatically determine the distance between two or more people in real time does not infringe a person’s privacy is not a trivial task and requires clear, unbiased education to alleviate concerns.

Through the development of AI and Deep Learning (DL) other beneficial applications have come to fruition that are able to use existing IP CCTV cameras. For instance, an organisation with a dispersed property portfolio in different cities could automatically visualise, via a dynamic dashboard that regularly updates, the % occupancy of a building(s), whilst detecting suspicious activity in car parks or people accessing floors in a building during out of office hours. Linking this capability with IoT and 5G provides facilities managers with the actionable data to automatically turn lights off when a building is empty, or to alert security personal if an incident has occurred.

“Demands and requirements of access control are changing”
Ingo Meijer, VP of EMEA at cloud-based access control SaaS company Brivo  (pictured)

“On-premise access control solutions and the local servers they depend on have served security professionals well for many years. Demands and requirements of access control, however, are changing. Businesses need to facilitate 24/7 access to premises and more remote management of security to ease up workloads. The cumbersome upkeep of local servers isn’t compatible with this modern security set-up that security professionals are aiming to put in place. Enter cloud-based access control.

Modern, cloud-based access control solutions allow security professionals to manage access to and from any location, at any time, and on any device, including computers and smartphones. The time saved from not having to physically be present at a facility to grant or revoke access, is a clear and obvious improvement over legacy access control systems that businesses will feel straight away.

This isn’t just a case of time savings. Cloud-based access control solutions reduce the workloads of physical and IT security teams who are already stretched. Multi-site software upgrades can be pushed out, for example, removing the cost and time associated with delivering manual updates to hardware.

Centralisation of access control, through the cloud, also benefits managers. Automatic logging of access events across multiple sites helps drive operational efficiencies and improve workforce management. Access control technology also grants or denies access by individual credentials which is an ideal way to manage a constant flow of employees or contractions around the clock.

Moving to the cloud does usually require some adjustment to new systems and ways of working but this shouldn’t be mistaken as increasing the complexities of security. On the contrary, cloud-based access controls are designed to remove the logistical difficulties associated with on-premise access control. These efficiencies will benefit those that embrace cloud-based access control the fastest.”

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