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The Impact of Big Data on the Physical Security Market

Published on 28 April, 2014

From being a buzzword today, Big Data is poised to have a large impact on the physical security market with numerous practical applications in preventing and fighting crime.

I’ve been hearing a lot about "Big Data" and its impact on the physical security market. Wikipedia tells us that Big Data involves using larger and larger sets of data points to find correlations that can “spot business trends, determine quality of research, prevent diseases, link legal citations, combat crime, and determine real-time roadway traffic conditions.”

No wonder we’re starting to hear so much about Big Data in the security market! It’s right there in Wikipedia (so it must be true?). One of the benefits of Big Data is to "combat crime", which is also one of the benefits of the physical security market. So our smallish market is now "fighting crime" side-by-side with the virtual equivalent of a superhero.

A forecast by International Data Corp. (IDC) projects the Big Data technology and services market will grow at a 27 percent compound annual growth rate to $32.4 billion through 2017 -- or at about six times the growth rate of the overall information and communication technology (ICT) market.

What new opportunities will there be in the coming years to tap the power of Big Data in the security marketplace? 

But how can Big Data and "little physical security" work together toward the same goal? What new opportunities will there be in the coming years to tap the power of Big Data in the security marketplace? What new technologies will our industry develop that can work with Big Data for the common good?

Big questions about Big Data

The possible mutual synergies appear to come down to two key questions:

How can physical security provide additional data that can contribute to the "power" of Big Data to fight crime

Realising this potential involves developing new ways to share physical security data across numerous public and private platforms.

How can physical security systems leverage existing Big Data in new ways to fight (and prevent) crime?

Among the aspects of Big Data is the idea of “data exhaust” – data that has been collected but doesn’t have any existing uses. The security marketplace may well find new ways to use that data for the benefit of security. Data is a resource just waiting for technology to analyse it and turn it into something useful (in our industry’s case, to promote security).

Currently, Big Data is more of a buzzword in our market than anything else. Awareness of Big Data has largely spilled over from the popular consciousness and the information technology market. However, as time goes by, we will start seeing a real impact of the compilation of numerous data sources (Big Data) on our market, too. The smartest people in our market are already looking at the opportunities, and when they start talking, it sounds really exciting. People like Steve Van Till of Brivo are now pondering the possibilities of Big Data, which was a topic at a session at ISC West. As the theoretical possibilities become practical uses – and they will -- we will be feeling the impact for years to come. 

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