The concept of door locks means something totally different in our current age of smarter buildings that house data-driven businesses. Hardware locks and keys are still around, but they co-exist with a brave new world of electronic locks, wireless locks, networked systems, and smarter access control. Locks can also increasingly be a part of a smart building’s flow of data. The opportunities of these new technologies and approaches are significant, but there are also pitfalls. I heard an interesting discussion about these topics presented by several business leaders from lock company Allegion at a press event at ISC West earlier this year. Here are some highlights from that discussion.


Q: What new developments in emerging technologies do you see in the coming years?

There’s opportunity for implementation of the technology to solve real problems"

Mark Jenner, Market Development Director: Connected locks, other types of sensors and all the data being aggregated inside buildings provide opportunity for data analytics. The buzzwords around technologies can cause confusion for integrators and end users, such as artificial intelligence, deep learning and machine learning, and what’s the difference among all of them? My opinion is that they are important, but the big theme across them all is opportunities for new business models for the integrator, and opportunities to solve problems for end users. And it’s not just technology for technology’s sake. There’s opportunity for implementation of the technology to solve real problems.

Devin Love, Market Development Manager: You can’t just have a solution looking for a problem. You see a lot of people who understand technology in their own lives, and they want to translate that into their businesses. That’s where I think it’s exciting. You now have all this technology, and people understand it to the extent that it improves their daily life. They go through their day with less friction, with more ease, and technology fades to the background. There are two levels of value. One is the longer, bigger, broader scope of what the technology can bring to a company using it, but on an immediate basis, there is the value of tracking how a business is running. These sensors are collecting data. For example, if you are a multi-tenant property, you can look at how amenities are being used. What do my residents really care about? That informs future decisions.

Robert Gaulden, Project Based Business Leader, Electronic Access Control: I have been studying the multi-family space for the last couple of months. The customer experience is really driving a lot of that technology adoption. What you’re seeing today, whether it’s a mobile device or some other device, is the ability to move throughout the property, and gain access to the perimeter and to your tenant space. All of this adoption is around that experience. There’s multiple players coming into the space, from Amazon wanting to deliver packages into the tenant space to residents who don’t want the inconvenience of using a key. Technology adoption to solve problems, and also to drive experiences, is where a lot of the balance will play out.

It’s important that we look at how integrators can use the technology to do business more effectively and efficiently"

Brad Aikin, Channel Led Business Leader, Integrator Channel: From an integrator perspective, there are two things. One is how they can approach end users, and the scope of what integrators consult with them about is wider. I think we as an industry are getting beyond those high-traffic, high-security applications. Those are still critical, but the value we bring around security and convenience is opening a new incremental opportunity. Also, the experience of the integrator and how they conduct their business is important, from generating quotes to communications to proactive servicing. It’s important that we look at how integrators can use the technology to do business more effectively and efficiently.

Gaulden: We as an industry, and we as manufacturers, need to understand what data we are generating so we can run our businesses more efficiently from every aspect, whether you’re the property manager, the building owner, the integrator, or whether you’re the manufacturer. These devices and technology are being pushed out everywhere and will generate the data. How we learn from that – especially when you apply security to it to be more proactive – provides huge opportunities.

Jenner: What data is important and what’s not? Folks get overwhelmed with too much data at some point. What’s important for an application at the end user level? What do they really need to solve the problem?

Love: Privacy gets involved as well, especially with consumer products. The attitude is “stay out of my private business.” But if you’re an employee now, all bets are off. Now you have a professional relationship with the people you work with, so there is a different lens that you look through when tracking data. You use the data to everyone’s benefit, and it’s a different paradigm than in your private life.

Aikin: Also, where does that data create a better experience for the person? That’s what drives the money and value: What level of information sharing makes my experience better? The technology is also getting smarter in terms of “how do we sort through the valuable information?

Hardware locks and keys are still around, but they co-exist with a brave new world of electronic locks, wireless locks, networked systems, and smarter access control

Q: As facilities connect more devices and sensors, the cybersecurity threats increase. We have already seen Internet of Things (IoT) devices being used as the attack point of cyber breaches. What are the vulnerabilities that make those attacks possible, and how can integrators protect their customers?

Love: Certainly, this is an extremely – maybe the most important – piece of our industry. What is the point of everything we do if we can’t instill that trust? But what we need to solve here also comes with opportunity. There’s certainly hope. You’re not seeing a frontal attack on the technology. It’s usually some loophole, or some older device that hasn’t been updated, or wasn’t installed correctly, or it was social-engineered. The opportunity is, not that it can’t be solved, but that it absolutely needs to be solved – and it can.

Gaulden: Integrators need the ability to understand that cyber layer and what it means. Nowadays, everything runs on the network, and you won’t even get past the IT department to get on the network if you don’t have the right staff, the right credentials. From an integrator standpoint, you need the ability to add to your staff, to understand everything from the product level to the firmware and the software level, all the way to the deployment of the holistic system. You can’t just say, “That’s not part of our responsibility.” All these devices are now riding on the network. They can be protected from a cyber perspective, or you will have vulnerabilities.

As manufacturers and business consultants to integrators, we should facilitate the conversation, that it is one ecosystem"

Aikin: Everything is a communication device. With the concern and need comes an opportunity for the integrator. But it’s also in making sure integrators are having that conversation with end users and setting the expectations up front. What I’m providing you on day one is the best in the industry at this time, but tomorrow it may not be. My accountability and service are to maintain that environment and keep it running. I may not physically change the device you see, but the service I’m bringing to you is that security, and that comprehensive dialogue. The IT stakeholders already have that expectation, but there is a chasm in some organisations between the physical security and the IT stakeholders, and the integrator is facilitating that conversation. As manufacturers and business consultants to integrators, we should facilitate that conversation. It is one ecosystem.


Q: Aside from cybersecurity, what are some of the other threats that integrators should be aware of as they work with customers to implement the new trends and technologies we have mentioned?

Aikin: It is diversifying, all the options and the capabilities. With that comes confusion and misapplication. If I look at the trends around just wireless; I go back 10 years ago, there were even questions of whether wireless was a secure technology. That has progressed and continues to be part of the cyber conversation, just like any hardwired product. It’s something you have to maintain and be aware of. Wireless has really diversified. There is still a need for education within the channel, and most importantly, to the end user. There are still end users that assume a WiFi widget is the same thing as a Bluetooth widget is the same thing as a low-frequency widget. But they are all different. There are reasons there are different technologies. Nothing stifles the adoption of technology more than misapplication.

We have different architectures within our lock base and among our software partners to allow a mix of technology"

Gaulden: Integrators understand the differences in how various doors are used and how those applications will work. In the K-12 school environment, you want the ability for an instant lockdown, and a WiFi deployment probably isn’t your best option. You need a real-time deployment. However, my office door at headquarters doesn’t necessarily need real-time communication. I can pull audits off it once or twice a day. You have to mix and match technologies. For a high security door, you would proactively monitor it. But for a door where convenience is the goal, we can put electronic security on it but we don’t need to know what’s going on at any moment in time. We have different architectures within our lock base and among our software partners to allow that mix of technology.

Jenner: End users want the latest technology, but it may not be for their applications. Those things drive more costs into it, when end users need to be putting money into cybersecurity and some other things. That’s part of the misapplication. Another risk is interoperability. That’s a big piece of the technology and as things change. How do we do a better job of supporting open architecture? It may not be a standards-based protocol, although we use a lot of standards, but we just need to make sure whatever protocols we use are open and easily accessible so we can continue to work with them in the future. We know that when our devices go in, they will support other parts of the ecosystem from an interoperability perspective. That’s important for integrators to know: How is this going to be applied and integrate with something in three, four or five years from now? It’s an expensive investment, and I want to make sure it will work in the future.

Main photo: Business leaders from Allegion discussed new trends in electronic and wireless locks at a recent press event: (L-R) Robert Gaulden, Devin Love, Brad Aikin and Mark Jenner.

Download PDF version

Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, SecurityInformed.com & SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SourceSecurity.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SourceSecurity.com's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

In case you missed it

8 tips for visiting a large security trade show
8 tips for visiting a large security trade show

Security trade fairs can be daunting for attendees. At big shows like IFSEC International and Security Essen, there can be hundreds of physical security manufacturers and dealers vying for your attention. Stands are sometimes spread out across multiple halls, often accompanied by a baffling floor plan. As the scope of physical security expands from video surveillance and access control to include smart building integrations, cyber security and the Internet of Things (IoT), there is an increasing amount of information to take in from education sessions and panels. Here, SourceSecurity.com presents eight hints and tips for visitors to make the most out of trade shows: 1. Outline your objectives. As the famous saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail!” Before you plan anything else, ensure you know what you need to achieve at the show. By clearly noting your objectives, you will be able to divide your time at the show appropriately, and carefully choose who you speak to. If there is a particular project your organisation is working on, search out the products and solutions that address your security challenges. If you are a security professional aiming to keep up with the latest trends and technologies, then networking sessions and seminars may be more appropriate. 2. Bring a standard list of questions Prepare a list of specific questions that will tell you if a product, solution or potential partner will help you meet your objectives. By asking the same questions to each exhibitor you speak to, you will be able to take notes and compare their offerings side by side at the end of the day. This also means you won’t get bogged down in details that are irrelevant to your goals. Most trade fair websites provide the option to filter exhibitors by their product category  3. Do your homework Once you know your objectives, you can start to research who is exhibiting and decide who you want to talk to. Lists of exhibitors can be daunting, and don’t always show you which manufacturers meet your needs. Luckily, most trade fair websites provide the option to filter exhibitors by their product category. Many exhibitions also offer a downloadable floor plan, grouping exhibitors by product category or by relevant vertical market.  It may be easier to download the floor plan to your phone/tablet or even print it out, if you don’t want to carry around a weighty map or show-guide. 4. Make a schedule Once you have shortlisted the companies you need to see, you can make a schedule that reflects your priorities. Even if you are not booking fixed meetings, a schedule will allow you to effectively manage your time, ensuring you make time for the exhibitors you can’t afford to miss. If the trade show spans several days, aim to have your most important conversations early on day one. By the time the last afternoon of the show comes around, many companies are already packing up their stand and preparing to head home. When scheduling fixed meetings, keep the floor plan at hand to avoid booking consecutive meetings at opposite ends of the venue. This will ensure you can walk calmly between stands and don’t arrive at an important meeting feeling flustered! Look for panels and seminars which address the specific needs of your project, or which will contribute to your professional growth 5. Make time for learning If you’re on a mission to expand your knowledge in a given area, check the event guide beforehand to note any education sessions you may want to attend. Look for panels and seminars which address the specific needs of your project, or which will contribute to your professional growth. This is one of the best opportunities you will have to learn from industry leaders in the field. Be sure to plan your attendance in advance so you can schedule the rest of your day accordingly. 6. Keep a record Armed with your objectives and list of questions, you will want to make a note of exhibitors’ responses to help you come to an informed decision. If you’re relying on an electronic device such as a smartphone or tablet to take notes, you may like to consider bringing a back-up notepad and pen, so you can continue to take notes if your battery fails. Your record does not have to be confined to written bullet points. Photos and videos are great tools remind you what you saw at the show, and they may pick up details that you weren’t able to describe in your notes. Most mobile devices can take photos – and images don’t need to be high quality if they’re just to refresh your memory. 7. Network – but don’t let small talk rule the day It may be tempting to take advantage of this time away from the office to talk about anything but business! While small talk can be helpful for building strong professional relationships, remember to keep your list of questions at hand so you can always bring conversations back to your key objectives. Keeping these goals in mind will also help you avoid being swayed by any unhelpful marketing-speak. It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to exchange business cards with everyone you speak to, or even take the opportunity to connect via LinkedIn. Even if something doesn’t seem relevant now, these contacts may be useful in future. Have a dedicated section in your bag or briefcase for business cards to avoid rummaging around. With your most important conversations planned carefully, there should be time left to explore the show more freely 8. Schedule time for wandering With your most important conversations planned carefully, there should be time left to explore the show more freely. Allowing dedicated time to wander will give you a welcome break from more pressing conversations, and may throw up a welcome surprise in the form of a smaller company or new technology you weren’t aware of.  Security trade fair checklist: Photo identification: As well as your event pass, some events require photo identification for entry. Notebook and pen: By writing as you go, you will be able to compare notes at the end of the day. Mobile device: Photos and videos are great tools to remind you what you saw at the show, and may pick up details you missed in your notes. Paper schedule & floor plan: In case batteries or network service fail. Business cards: Have a dedicated pouch or pocket for these to avoid rummaging at the bottom of a bag. Comfortable shoes: If you’re spending a whole day at an event, and plan on visiting multiple booths, comfortable shoes are a must!

How artificial intelligence (AI) is changing video surveillance today
How artificial intelligence (AI) is changing video surveillance today

There’s a lot of excitement around artificial intelligence (AI) today – and rightly so. AI is shifting the modern landscape of security and surveillance and dramatically changing the way users interact with their security systems. But with all the talk of AI’s potential, you might be wondering: what problems does AI help solve today? The need for AI The fact is, today there are too many cameras and too much recorded video for security operators to keep pace with. On top of that, people have short attention spans. AI is a technology that doesn’t get bored and can analyse more video data than humans ever possibly could.AI is a technology that doesn’t get bored and can analyse more video data than humans ever possibly could It is designed to bring the most important events and insight to users’ attention, freeing them to do what they do best: make critical decisions. There are two areas where AI can have a significant impact on video surveillance today: search and focus of attention. Faster search Imagine using the internet today without a search engine. You would have to search through one webpage at a time, combing through all its contents, line-by-line, to hopefully find what you’re looking for. That is what most video surveillance search is like today: security operators scan hours of video from one camera at a time in the hope that they’ll find the critical event they need to investigate further. That’s where artificial intelligence comes in. The ability of AI to reduce hours of work to mere minutes is especially significant when we think about the gradual decline in human attention spans With AI, companies such as Avigilon are developing technologies that are designed to make video search as easy as searching the internet. Tools like Avigilon Appearance Search™ technology – a sophisticated deep learning AI video search engine – help operators quickly locate a specific person or vehicle of interest across all cameras within a site. When a security operator is provided with physical descriptions of a person involved in an event, this technology allows them to initiate a search by simply selecting certain descriptors, such as gender or clothing colour. During critical investigations, such as in the case of a missing or suspicious person, this technology is particularly helpful as it can use those descriptions to search for a person and, within seconds, find them across an entire site. Focused attention           The ability of AI to reduce hours of work to mere minutes is especially significant when we think about the gradual decline in human attention spans. Consider all the information a person is presented with on a given day. They don’t necessarily pay attention to everything because most of that information is irrelevant. Instead, they prioritise what is and is not important, often focusing only on information or events that are surprising or unusual. Security operators scan hours of video from one camera at a time in the hope that they’ll find the critical event they need to investigate further Now, consider how much information a security operator who watches tens, if not hundreds or thousands of surveillance cameras, is presented with daily. After just twenty minutes, their attention span significantly decreases, meaning most of that video is never watched and critical information may go undetected. By taking over the task of "watching" security video, AI technology can help focus operators’ attention on events that may need further investigation. As AI technology evolves, the rich metadata captured in surveillance video will add even more relevance to what operators are seeing For instance, technology like Avigilon™ Unusual Motion (UMD) uses AI to continuously learn what typical activity in a scene looks like and then detect and flag unusual events, adding a new level of automation to surveillance. This helps save time during an investigation by allowing operators to quickly search through large amounts of recorded video faster, automatically focusing their attention on the atypical events that may need further investigation, enabling them to more effectively answer the critical questions of who, what, where and when. As AI technology evolves, the rich metadata captured in surveillance video – like clothing colour, age or gender – will add even more relevance to what operators are seeing. This means that in addition to detecting unusual activities based on motion, this technology has the potential to guide operators’ attention to other “unusual” data that will help them more accurately verify and respond to a security event. The key to advanced security When integrated throughout a security system, AI technology has the potential to dramatically change security operations There’s no denying it, the role of AI in security today is transformative. AI-powered video management software is helping to reduce the amount of time spent on surveillance, making security operators more efficient and effective at their jobs. By removing the need to constantly watch video screens and automating the “detection” function of surveillance, AI technology allows operators to focus on what they do best: verifying and acting on critical events. This not only expedites forensic investigations but enables real-time event response, as well. When integrated throughout a security system, AI technology has the potential to dramatically change security operations. Just as high-definition imaging has become a quintessential feature of today’s surveillance cameras, the tremendous value of AI technology has positioned it as a core component of security systems today, and in the future.

How to move from crisis response to crisis management
How to move from crisis response to crisis management

Governments and corporations face crisis events every day. An active shooter terrorises a campus. A cyber extortionist holds a city for ransom. A hurricane washes away a key manufacturing facility. Not all critical events rise to the level of these catastrophic emergencies, but a late or inadequate response to even a minor incident can put people, operations and reputations at risk. Effective response plan In 2015, for example, the City of Boston experienced several record-breaking snowstorms that forced the city to close the subway system for three days. The extreme decision cost the state $265 million per day and was largely attributed to a lack of preparation and an inadequate response plan by the transportation department. The reputation of the head of the transportation department was so damaged by the decision she was forced to resign. Being able to better predict how the storms would impact the subway system’s aging infrastructure – and having a more effective response plan in place – could have saved the state hundreds of millions of dollars (not to mention the transit chief’s job). A comprehensive critical event management strategy begins before the impact of an event is felt and continues after the immediate crisis has ended. This full lifecycle strategy can be broken into four distinct phases – Assess, Locate, Act and Analyse. Assessing threats for prevention Security teams might have complained about not having enough intelligence data to make accurate predictionsIdentifying a threat before it reaches critical mass and understanding how it might impact vital assets is the most difficult challenge facing security professionals. In the past, security teams might have complained about not having enough intelligence data to make accurate predictions. Today, the exact opposite might be true – there is too much data! With crime and incident data coming from law enforcement agencies, photos and videos coming from people on the front line, topics trending on social media and logistical information originating from internal systems it can be almost impossible to locate a real signal among all the noise and chatter. Being able to easily visualise all this intelligence data within the context of an organisation’s assets is vital to understand the relationship between threat data and the individuals or facilities in harm’s way. Social media monitoring Free tools like Google Maps or satellite imagery from organisations like AccuWeather, for example, can help understand how fast a storm is closing in on a manufacturing facility, or how close an active shooter is to a school. Their usefulness, however, is limited to a few event types and they provide only a very macro view of the crisis.Data from building access systems, wifi hotspots, corporate travel systems, among others, can be used to create a profile Critical event management (CEM) platforms, however, are designed specifically to manage critical events of all types and provide much greater visibility. Internal and external data sources (weather, local and national emergency management, social media monitoring software, security cameras, etc.) are integrated into these platforms and their data is visualised on a threat map. Security teams can quickly see if there are actual threats to the organisations or communities they are protecting and don’t lose time trying to make sense of intelligence reports. The more they can see on a ‘single pane of glass,’ the faster they can initiate the appropriate response. Locating a threat Once a threat has been deemed a critical event, the next step is to find the people who might be impacted – employees/residents in danger, first responders and key stakeholders (e.g., senior executives or elected officials who need status updates). Often, this requires someone on the security team to access an HR contact database and initiate a call tree to contact each person individually, in a specific hierarchical order. This can be a time-consuming and opaque process. There is no information on the proximity of that person to the critical event, or if a person has skills such as CPR that could aid in the response. Ensuring ahead of time that certifications, skill sets, or on-call availability is included with contact information can save valuable time in the middle of a crisis response. Going even further, data from building access systems, wifi hotspots, corporate travel systems, among others, can be used to create a profile of where a person just was and where he or she might be going in a CEM platform. This information can be visualised on the threat map and help determine who is actually in danger and who can respond the fastest. The emergency response then becomes targeted and more effective. Security teams can quickly see if there are actual threats to the organisations or communities they are protecting Acting and automating The third step is to act and automate processes. If there is a tornado closing in on a town, for example, residents should not have to wait for manual intervention before a siren is activated or a message sent out. Organisations can build and execute their standing operating procedures (SOPs) fully within a CEM platform. Sirens, alarms, digital signs and messages can all be automatically activated based on event type, severity and location. Using the tornado example, an integration with a weather forecasting service could trigger the command to issue a tornado warning for a specific community if it is in the path of the storm. Summon security guards Warning messages can be prepared in advance based on event type so there is no chance of issuing a misleading or unclear alert Warning messages can be prepared in advance based on event type so there is no chance of issuing a misleading or unclear alert. All communications with impacted individuals can be centralised within the platform and automated based on SOP protocols. This also includes inbound communications from first responders and impacted individuals. An employee confronted by an assailant in a parking garage could initiate an SOS alert from his or her mobile phone that would automatically summon security guards to the scene. Conference lines can also be instantly created to enable collaboration and speed response time. Additionally, escalation policies are automatically engaged if a protocol is broken. For example, during an IT outage, if the primary network engineer does not respond in two minutes, a designated backup is automatically summoned. Eliminating manual steps from SOPs reduces the chance for human error and increases the speed and effectiveness of critical event responses. Analysis of a threat Looking for ways to better prepare and respond to critical events will not only improve performance when similar events occur again It’s not uncommon for security and response teams to think that a critical event is over once the immediate crisis has ended. After all, they are often the ones pushing themselves to exhaustion and sometimes risking life and limb to protect their neighbours, colleagues, community reputations and company brands. They need and deserve a rest. In the aftermath of a critical event, however, it’s important to review the effectiveness of the response and look for ways to drive improvements. Which tasks took too long? What resources were missing? How many times did people respond quickly? With a CEM platform, team performance, operational response, benchmarking data and notification analysis are all captured within the system and are available in a configurable dashboard or in after-action reports for analysis. Continuously looking for ways to better prepare and respond to critical events will not only improve performance when similar events occur again, but it will also improve response effectiveness when unforeseen events strike. Coordinate emergency response Virtually every organisation has some form of response plan to triage a critical event and restore community order or business operations. While many of these plans are highly effective in providing a structure to command and coordinate emergency response, they are reactive in nature and don’t account for the full lifecycle of a critical event – Assess, Locate, Act and Analyse. Whether it’s a large-scale regional emergency or a daily operational issue such as an IT outage, a comprehensive critical event management strategy will minimise the impact by improving visibility, collaboration and response.