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AI has opened doors to many transformation opportunities and increasingly minimised many risks -- personal and economic -- that are alarming today. And illicit trade is one of those pains AI can offer a promising solution against. Illicit trade is a serious threat and problem that affects governments and societies on every level. While governments lose financial funds in tax revenues, thriving businesses are losing potential customers, and customers are getting tricked into purchasing counterfeit, low-quality products. Transnational organised crime generates revenue of $2.2 trillion through transnational criminal organisations, complicit corrupt facilitators, and other threat areas. The list of criminal activities is long and involves such horrific crimes as trafficking of narcotics, opioids, arms, humans, fake medicines and other counterfeit and pirated goods; illegal tobacco and alcohol; illegally-harvested timber, wildlife, and fish; pillaged oil, diamonds, gold, and other natural resources and precious minerals; stolen antiquities; and other contraband or valuable items sold across streets, social media, online marketplaces, and the dark web. In short, illicit trade is a contributing cause to large-scale insecurity and instability across markets. AI-driven technologies Here is where revolutionary AI-driven technologies come in, with their capability to fight illicit trade across markets. AI technologies in this specific application promise to help build safer and more secure communities in the future. There are a few ways that AI can support the ongoing fight against illicit trade on a global scale in a tangible way. Transnational organised crime generates revenue of $2.2 trillion For financial transactions at risk of fraud and money laundering, tracking has become an increasing headache if done manually. As a solution to this labour-intensive process, AI technology can be trained to follow all the compliance rules and process a large number of documents -- often billions of pages of documents -- in a short period of time. Among these documents widely in circulation, most have an unstructured and inconsistent format -- from invoices to insurance documentation -- are a complex system to tackle; in this whirlwind of pages, the likelihood of non-compliant and misrepresented figures to go by unnoticed. But this is also where AI can thrive as solutions become a necessity, enhancing humans’ capabilities of identifying fraud risks in the early stages. Relying on natural language processing, the technology can begin interpreting the text from the scanned and digitised documents in order to process trade information at high speed. In this context, AI-powered solutions are capable of comparing, contrasting document information and identify anomalies worth looking into further. By automating a large portion of the process, AI-driven technology allows the staff to focus on more pressing, high-involvement issues that require human judgement while saving time on the time-consuming manual work of analysing documents by hand. Identifying covert interactions between criminals As criminal networks become increasingly intricate in their illegal operations, cutting-edge AI technology is crucial in the battle against it. In 2019, EU launched a project with the goal to deploy advanced AI technology and robots to identify smuggling across the borders of Portugal, Estonia, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. With the help of AI, it will be possible to send drones and autonomous vehicles to the most dubious border areas in order to enforce border control and detect smugglers quickly and efficiently. Illicit trade triggers a chain reaction of negative impact across industries, governments and individuals The issues the EU is trying to address through the project include drug and weapon smuggling, as well as human trafficking. From tight border control tracking crossings to communication monitoring to identify covert interactions between criminals on both sides of the border, the project is one among many that will expand the scope of solutions to the illicit trade problems today. AI’s contribution is significant on many levels: from predicting crime and threats to safeguarding public health and safety (in face of human trafficking, counterfeit medicines, and toxic products), these are simply inklings of major shifts that AI technology promises for the future of the battle against illicit trade. So why is fighting illicit trade so crucial? Here are a few reasons why AI’s role in fighting this global issue is crucial. In a world where customers run the risk of being deceived and tricked into buying counterfeit products, companies who provide the original products suffer through the loss of revenue and market share. The same companies are also robbed of their intellectual property and proprietary data. Furthermore, people who are employed in these companies run the risk of losing their jobs as a result of revenue and market share loss. And finally, the last straw is the loss of brand integrity and reputation to the need to compete with low-quality, sometimes even dangerous counterfeit products. Just like a domino effect, illicit trade triggers a chain reaction of negative impact across industries, governments and individuals. And it’s time for AI to step in and stop it.
Smart security is advancing rapidly. As AI and 4K rise in adoption on smart video cameras, these higher video resolutions are driving the demand for more data to be stored on-camera. AI and smart video promise to extract greater insights from security video. Complex, extensive camera networks will already require a large amount of data storage, particularly if this is 24/7 monitoring from smart video-enabled devices. With 4K-compliant cameras projected to make up over 24% of all network cameras shipped by 2023 – there is a fast-growing desire for reliable storage on-board security cameras. The question for businesses is: do they look to break up their existing smart video network, by separating and compartmentalising cameras to handle data requirements, or do they increase its storage capabilities? As some people begin to venture out and return to work following initial COVID-19 measures, we are also seeing demand for thermal imaging technology increase. New technology like this combined with more of these always-on systems being rolled out, means organisations will need to carefully consider their smart video strategy. Newer edge computing will play an important role in capturing, collecting, and analysing data and there are some key trends you can expect to see as a result of this evolution. There are many more types of cameras being used today, such as body cameras, dashboard cameras, and new Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors. Video data is so rich nowadays, you can analyse it and deduce a lot of valuable information in real-time, instead of post-event. Edge computing and smart security As public cloud adoption grew, companies and organisations saw the platform as a centralised location for big data. However, recently there’s been opposition to that trend. Instead we are now seeing data processed at the edge, rather than in the cloud. There is one main reason for this change in preference: latency. Newer edge computing will play an important role in capturing, collecting, and analysing data Latency is an important consideration when trying to carry out real-time pattern recognition. It’s very difficult for cameras to process data – 4K surveillance video recorded 24/7 – if it has to go back to a centralised data centre hundreds of miles away. This data analysis needs to happen quickly in order to be timely and applicable to dynamic situations, such as public safety. By storing relevant data at the edge, AI inferencing can happen much faster. Doing so can lead to safer communities, more effective operations, and smarter infrastructure. UHD and storage AI-enabled applications and capabilities, such as pattern recognition, depend on high-definition resolutions such as 4K – also known as Ultra High Definition (UHD). This detailed data has a major impact on storage – both the capacity and speeds at which it needs to be written, and the network. Compared to HD, 4K video has much higher storage requirements and we even have 8K on the horizon. As we know, 4K video has four times the number of pixels as HD video. In addition, 4K compliant video supports 8, 10, and 12 bits per channel that translate to 24-, 30- or 36-bit colour depth per pixel. A similar pattern holds for HD — more colour using 24 bits or less colour using 10 or 12 bits in colour depth per pixel. Altogether, there is up to a 5.7x increase in bits generated by 4K vs. 1080 pixel video. Larger video files place new demands on data infrastructure for both video production and surveillance. Which means investing in data infrastructure becomes a key consideration when looking into smart security. Always-on connectivity Whether designing solutions that have limited connectivity or ultra-fast 5G capabilities, most smart security solutions need to operate 24/7, regardless of their environment. Yet, on occasion, the underlying hardware and software systems fail. In the event of this, it is important to establish a failover process to ensure continued operation or restore data after a failure, including everything from traffic control to sensors to camera feeds and more. Consider the example of a hospital with dozens or even over a hundred cameras connected to a centralised recorder via IP. If the Ethernet goes down, no video can be captured. Such an event could pose a serious threat to the safety and security of hospital patients and staff. For this reason, microSD cards are used in cameras to enable continuous recording. Software tools – powered by AI – can then “patch” missing data streams with the content captured on the card to ensure the video stream can be viewed chronologically with no content gaps. Thermal imaging Health and safety is the number one priority for all organisations as people return to work and public spaces. Some organisations are deploying thermal imaging to help screen individuals for symptoms as they return. Organisations that operate with warehouses, depots and assembly lines will traditionally have large amounts of cameras located outside of the entrance. With thermal imaging smart video in place, these cameras can now serve a dual purpose as a screening device. The thermal imaging technology is capable of detecting elevated body temperatures, with 10-25 workers being scanned in one shot, from one camera – making it an efficient and accurate process. This way, staff can use the information to help identify people who may need further screening, testing, and/or isolation before returning to work. There are many more types of cameras being used today, such as body cameras, dashboard cameras, and new Internet of Things (IoT) devices While this may not increase data storage requirements, it can change your retention policies and practices. Smart security today is about utilising AI and edge computing, to deliver an always-on, high-resolution video provision that can help keep people safe 24/7. These trends increase the demands and importance of monitoring, which means requirements of the supporting data infrastructure improve to match that, including the ability to proactively manage the infrastructure to help ensure reliable operation. Companies need to make sure they have considered all the storage and policy challenges as part of their smart security strategy for the future.
Stadiums around the world are still paralysed from the effects of COVID-19. Fans and spectators in masses have been absent from stadiums since April and there doesn’t seem to be a concrete plan on how or when they’ll be able to return to near capacity. The NBA recently opted to form a bubble philosophy concept in Disney’s facilities, although it’s been a relative success, it’s also been a $200 million temporary solution. This then begs the question: How long can stadiums survive like this without spectator’s present? History tells us that stadiums, venues and sport recover from disasters, so what can stadiums do to speed up the process? This is the catalyst for AI to be integrated on mass level to stadiums around the world. AI is the answer AI’s role in getting fans and spectators back is huge, through capabilities such as: Social Distance Monitoring Crowd Scanning/Metrics Facial Recognition Fever Detection Track & Trace Providing Behavioural Analytics Technologies such as IREX.ai is now working alongside National Leagues, Franchises and Governing Bodies to implement AI surveillance software into their CCTV/surveillance cameras. This is now creating a more collaborative effort from the operations team in stadiums, rather than purely security. Stadiums around the world are still paralysed from the effects of COVID-19 AI surveillance software such as IREX.ai when implemented into the surveillance cameras can be accessed by designated users on any device and on any browser platform. Crowd metrics Arming stadiums with AI-powered surveillance tools can detect crowd metrics such as “people counting” and “group statistics”. This ensures stadium personnel can monitor social distancing with precision, accuracy and immediately. Alerts can be set up throughout parts of the stadium to alert senior staff members when overcrowding can appear with real-time videos, analytics and photos to their hand-held device, such as a smartphone. Fever detection Thermal cameras have been implemented throughout facilities including stadiums and are helping assist to spot people with elevated temperatures. What IREX.ai implements is an alert system, coupled with facial recognition of any individual(s) that read an elevated body temperature. This alert system then provides security and health officials with a photo of the individual with the elevated body temperature, meaning staff can react quicker to the situation prevent this individual from entry. Pandemic monitoring by facial recognition Thermal cameras have been implemented throughout facilities including stadiums and are helping assist to spot people with elevated temperatures Through facial recognition, staff members will be able to locate individuals through simply uploading a photo. It has never been easier to find a person of interest. With masks becoming an everyday part of society, facial recognition has come under scrutiny regarding the accuracy when a mask is worn. Irex.ai still maintains a 96% accuracy with individuals wearing masks and can set up alerts for any individuals not wearing a mask. Another important aspect of facial recognition is finding persons of interest quickly through technology like IREX.ai’s “searchveillance”. The future is here. Designated staff can track a person from when they enter the stadium by simply uploading their photograph. An example of how this can assist stadium personnel is to help relocate lost children inside the stadium with their guardians/parents when they are separated. Another attribute would be any individuals banned from entering the stadium would trigger alerts once they appear under surveillance, a fantastic collaborative tool to use with Law Enforcement. Return on investment With security solutions, one of the biggest issues with any security investment is a lack of an ROI. This is where AI security is breaking the mould. The ability to provide business analytics, consumer/fan behaviours, traffic patterns, etc, allows other departments within the organisation to gain vital information that can assist with their strategies and practices. Stadium security will never be the same in a post-COVID world, so why will its practices stay the same? AI & Stadiums is no longer the future, it’s the 2020 solution.
Internet-based training has long provided a less-expensive alternative to in-person classroom time. There are even universities that provide most or all of their instruction online. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has expanded acceptance even more and increased usage of internet-based meeting and learning tools. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How can remote or internet-based training benefit the physical security market?
Close collaboration with customers has been a hallmark of the physical security industry for decades. And yet, less ability to collaborate face-to-face to discuss customer needs has been a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. “True innovation, which comes from close collaboration with customers, is more difficult to achieve remotely,” said Howard Johnson, President and COO, AMAG Technology, adding “Not being able to visit in person has not been helpful. Kurt John, Chief Cyber Security Officer at Siemens USA, adds “We need to plan intentionally with a strategic approach for collaboration and innovation.” Securing New Ground virtual conference Security experts from three manufacturers reflected on the impact of COVID-19 on the physical security industry Security experts from three manufacturers reflected on the impact of COVID-19 on the physical security industry at a ‘View from the Top’ session, during the Securing New Ground virtual conference, sponsored by the Security Industry Association. Their comments covered business practices during the pandemic and the outlook for technology innovation in response. “We had to pivot quickly on business models and create a cross-portfolio team task force to discuss how we can leverage technologies to help customers [during the pandemic],” said John, adding “We are having outcome-based conversations with customers about their businesses and operations, and how we can combine short-term benefits with long-term growth and flexibility.” But some of those conversations are happening from a distance. Results-oriented approach in remote work environment After the pandemic took hold, Siemens shifted rapidly to remote work and embraced other infrastructure changes. “We had to refocus and lead with empathy, flexibility and trust,” said John, adding “We gave our staff flexibility to set their hours and used a results-oriented approach.” There is also a social element missing in the work-from-home model. “Virtual coffee machines do not replace being there in person,” said Pierre Racz, President and CEO, Genetec, adding “Small talk about the weather is important psychological elements.” Positives in using multi-factor identity management He predicts that, in the future, office hours may be reduced, but not floor space, with space needed for in-person collaboration and long-term social distancing. Employees will come to the office to do collaborative work, but can work from home to accomplish individual tasks that may be ‘deferred’ to after-hours, when the kids have been fed. When the pandemic hit, Genetec had resumed 95% of their operations within 36 hours, thanks to their use of multi-factor identity management. They did not suffer from malware and phishing issues. “Multi-factor is really important so that well-engineered phishing campaigns are not successful,” said Pierre Racz. Shift to ‘Zero Trust’ model All three panelists noted a coming skills gap relating both cyber security and systems integration Remote working technologies are shifting to a ‘zero trust’ model, in which access to systems is granted adaptively based on contextual awareness of authorised user patterns based on identity, time, and device posture. For example, an office computer might have more leeway than a home computer and a computer at Starbucks would be even less trusted. The approach increases logical access security while providing users their choice of devices and apps. Skills gap in cyber security and systems integration A growing skills gap has continued throughout the pandemic. “Where we have vacancies, we have struggled to find candidates,” said Howard Johnson. All three panelists noted a coming skills gap relating both cyber security and systems integration. New technologies will clearly require new skills that may currently be rare in the workforce. Cyber security will become even more important with growth in new technologies such as AI, machine learning, 5G and edge computing. A workforce development plan is needed to address the technologies and to enable companies to pivot to new business needs, said John. Adoption of temperature sensing solutions From a technology viewpoint, Johnson has seen attention shift to the reception area and portal, away from touch technologies and embracing temperature sensing as a new element. There have also been new requests for video and audio at the portal point, to create methods of access and egress that do not require security personnel to be present. “Some customers are early adopters, and others are waiting for the market to mature before investing,” Howard Johnson said. “Security companies have been faced with the need to respond rapidly to their customers’ needs during the pandemic, but without seeming like ‘ambulance chasers’,” said Pierre Racz. In the case of Genetec, the company offered new system capabilities, such as a 'contamination report', to existing customers for free. Move to a hybrid and flexible work environment In the new normal, the pendulum will swing back to the middle with more flexibility and a hybrid approach" An immediate impact of the pandemic has been a reduction in required office space, as more employees have worked from home, raising questions about future demand for office space. “The pendulum tends to swing to the extremes,” said Kurt John, adding “In the new normal, the pendulum will swing back to the middle with more flexibility and a hybrid approach.” “Users will be much more careful about letting people into their space, which requires more policies and procedures,” said Lorna Chandler, CEO, Security by Design, who participated in a panel at Securing New Ground about how the pandemic is changing commercial architecture and access control. “Users should also be careful in the rush to secure premises from COVID-19 that they don’t violate HIPAA laws or create other potential liabilities,” adds Chandler. Continuum of mechanical and electromechanical devices Mark Duato, Executive Vice President, Aftermarket, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions, said a “Continuum of mechanical and electromechanical devices is needed to protect premises and ensure convenient operation of an access control operation.” “First and foremost, the immediate reaction to the impact of COVID-19 is to rush to educate and invest in technologies to increase the ability to analyse people,” said Duato, who also participated in the access control panel. Shift to touchless, frictionless access control “The move to touchless, frictionless access control “is really a collaboration of people, process and technology,” said Valerie Currin, President and Managing Director, Boon Edam Inc., adding “And all three elements need to come together. Touchless and frictionless have been in our market for decades, and they’re only going to become heightened and grow. We’re seeing our business pivot to serve markets we have not served in the past." More and more data is a feature of new systems, but is only helpful when it is analysed. “We all live in a world of data, or IoT and sensor technology,” said ASSA ABLOY’s Mark Duato, adding “But we don’t want to be crushed by data. Data is only helpful when you can reduce it to functional benefits that will help us innovate. We have to take the time to squeeze the value out of data.”
Artificial intelligence is more than just the latest buzzword in the security marketplace. In some cases, smarter computer technologies like AI and machine learning (ML) are helping to transform how security operates. AI is also expanding the industry’s use cases, sometimes even beyond the historic province of the security realm. It turns out that AI is also a timely tool in the middle of a global pandemic. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How is artificial intelligence (AI) changing the security market?
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