- End-to-end security: The weakest link
- Card to Reader transmission
- Reader-Controller transmission
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It’s not just a new year, it’s a new decade. And somehow this makes it feel bigger. Almost like we’re moving faster or reaching farther. Technology is certainly advancing at an unprecedented pace. While there’s a lot to talk about, there are three big security trends that we think will continue to have a huge impact in the year to come. 1. What is artificial intelligence and is it going to take over? We’ve seen countless versions of artificial intelligence (AI) in pop culture—think of Sonny in the 2004 film I, Robot or Rachael in Blade Runner—so we feel we know the technology. And, based on this, we believe our anxieties around it are warranted. But, the truth is that the science to produce even far less sophisticated versions of these characters just doesn’t exist. AI today Computers use data to help improve performance without being explicitly programmed Today’s AI science is focused largely on machine learning. With machine learning, computers use data to help improve performance without being explicitly programmed. This means that, through the use of algorithms and training, a computer can be programmed to determine which features it should use in the identification process to efficiently produce the most accurate output. Over time and based on a trainer’s feedback, for example, a computer can determine that using color rather than shape to identify a flower is more efficient because the results are more accurate. Machine learning in the physical security industry In the security sector, we’re seeing good results with automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) systems that employ machine learning. Today’s ALPR cameras and systems are better at recognising license plates from different countries, states, or provinces because they’re more efficient at identifying an ever-expanding number of inputs. We don’t need to worry that AI will be running our lives So, we don’t need to worry that AI will be running our lives. And, in fact, we should be relieved that machine learning can be used to identify scofflaw plates as this will help keep our roads and spaces safer. 2. Can we move beyond the single, secured door? With increased globalisation and the rise of multinational companies, organisations everywhere are facing new challenges around visitor, and employee access management. Protecting your environment is no longer as easy as securing a single door. As the nature of work becomes more complex, organisations are going to have to take a different approach for managing the flow of people through their facilities. Organszations are going to have to take a different approach for managing the flow of people through their facilities The challenges of traditional access control We’ve seen that relying exclusively on a static access control system can increase workload and inefficiencies. With this approach, granting and revoking temporary access and provisioning employees is a labor-intensive process. It requires hands-on participation from security operators and front office staff. There is no guarantee that corporate or regulatory policies are being followed as well as little-to-no traceability. And, ultimately, the process is, by its very nature, prone to human error. Large conglomerates have been meeting these challenges by developing tailor-made solutions based on physical identity management. These systems are costly and require 3rd party support. Smaller organisations simply could not afford the time or resources necessary to implement them. Heading into 2020, we’re seeing an increase in out-of-the-box solutions that will allow organisations of all sizes to move to cloud-based identity management systems. How Physical Identity and Access Management (PIAM) systems can help More affordable Physical Identity and Access Management (PIAM) solutions will help organisations secure their systems and facilities by effectively managing access requests based on an individual’s identity and an organisation’s security policies. They can ensure that only those individuals who have the right to access a secured area can do so by managing and automating the process. In effect, by extending an access control system with a PIAM, organisations of any size will be able to reduce workloads, fully implement corporate policies, and better protect their spaces. 3. Should we be nervous about facial recognition? We shouldn’t be surprised by the public’s fear of facial recognition. The idea that private citizens can be identified and tracked in public is the stuff of political espionage and sci-fi thrillers. But, beyond the fictional examples, we’ve also seen cases where facial recognition gets it wrong. Incorrectly identifying an innocent man for a robbery twice or having difficulty distinguishing members of the same race are just some of the real-world reasons people don’t trust facial recognition. How facial recognition can increase security Facial recognition technology can play a huge role in helping keep people, assets, and spaces safe. It can monitor visitors to improve safety and efficiency, assist security personnel by helping to reduce response times, and aid in the investigation of incidents. Facial recognition technology can play a huge role in helping keep people, assets, and spaces safe In the coming year, we’re going to see a greater focus on developing solutions that use a privacy-by-design approach. For video surveillance applications, this will include the ability to automatically mask—through blurring or pixelation—persons in live and stored video feeds. The system itself will ensure that only authorised personnel can access un-pixelated or blurred images and only in cases that warrant it. Anonymisation Using this approach will help reduce concerns and increase protection, which will lead to greater accuracy and trust. In parallel, technology providers must continue to work with regulating bodies to ensure that the policies around implementing and using any surveillance technology, especially facial recognition, align with our values. With all these trends, we’re seeing the relationship between people and technology evolving. When we focus on improving the lives of people in our communities, we can harness the power in these advancements and make a real difference.
Facial recognition continues to be a political football and a target of privacy activists in the United States. For example, San Diego has suspended its use of facial recognition scanners by law enforcement after a campaign by civil rights groups. The San Diego Tactical Identification System (TACIDS) programme included a database of facial recognition scans shared by 30 local, state and federal agencies. A California law, passed in the fall, puts a three-year moratorium on law enforcement use of face recognition technology. A proposal in Congress would prohibit use of biometric recognition technology in most public and assisted housing units funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), thus protecting the more than two million public housing residents nationwide from being “over-surveilled.” The “No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act” is supported by the NAACP, the National Housing Law Project, National Low-Income Housing Coalition, National Action Network, Color of Change, and the Project on Government Oversight. The problems of Facial Recognition "Studies that show that facial recognition systems may misidentify many individuals including women and people of colour" A letter from seven members of Congress to HUD Secretary Ben Carson questioned the use of facial recognition in federally assisted housing because it “could be used to enable invasive, unnecessary and harmful government surveillance of…residents.” The letter cites studies that show that facial recognition systems may misidentify many individuals including women and people of colour, thus “exacerbating vulnerabilities that marginalized groups already face in life.” In June, Somerville, Mass., became the second U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces. The first was San Francisco. A coalition of organisations and trade associations has issued a letter to Congress outlining concerns with “blanket prohibitions” or moratoriums on facial recognition technology and listing beneficial uses for public safety, national security and fighting fraud. The Security Industry Association (SIA) is part of the coalition, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. A letter from seven members of Congress to HUD Secretary Ben Carson questioned the use of facial recognition in federally assisted housing Facial recognition technology has benefited Americans in many ways, such as helping to thwart identity thieves" The letter says: “While polls consistently show that Americans trust law enforcement to use facial recognition technology responsibly, some groups have called for lawmakers to enact bans on [the] technology. While we agree that it is important to have effective oversight and accountability of these tools to uphold and protect civil liberties, we disagree that a ban is the best option.” Development and guidance As alternatives to outright bans, the letter proposes expanded testing and performance standards, develop of best practices and guidance for law enforcement, and additional training for different uses of the technology. “Facial recognition technology has benefited Americans in many ways, such as helping to fight human trafficking, thwart identity thieves and improve passenger facilitation at airports and enhance aviation security,” says Don Erickson, CEO of SIA. “SIA believes this advanced technology should be used in a safe, accurate and effective way, and look forward to working with Congress to help the U.S. set the example on how to ethically and responsibly govern this technology.” SIA has produced a document called “Face Facts: Dispelling Common Myths Associated with Facial Recognition Technology.”
There’s no question that the popularity of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) security and home automation products is on the rise. The reasons for the growth in DIY sales are numerous, including increased awareness of home automation products, fast set-up, limited (if any) installation costs, and interoperability with other smart security products. In fact, with the parallel rise of smart home hubs like Alexa and Google Home, many people are opting to attempt the set-up of smart home devices without any professional assistance. According to a 2018 Residential Security Market Report prepared by Parks Associates and Security Sales & Integration magazine, “More than 60% of installing dealers now report that DIY systems are biting into demand for their services.” But the rise in DIY is not entirely bad news for security and home automation installers and dealers. There are a number of ways to view this glass as half-full. Let’s look at a few of them. Increase in revenue for dealers With their lower cost and perceived ease of installation, DIY products have broken down barriers for additional purchaseThere are reasons for dealers and installers to be cheerful about the rise of DIY. For one thing, according to that same Residential Security Market Report from Parks Associates, residential security dealers are doing quite well. The report states, “In 2017, revenues were up an average 7.72% for security dealers.” What about installations? The report goes on to say, “For 2017, the average number of installs per dealer was 22 per month, compared to 17 per month in 2016.” So, revenues are up for security dealers, and at least part of the reason can be attributed to the fact that DIY products can raise overall awareness of and spur interest in other home automation and security products. With their lower cost and perceived ease of installation, DIY products have actually broken down barriers for the additional purchase, and installation, of complete, professionally installed systems. Wireless, connected smart locks For example, the sale of wireless, connected smart locks (viewed by some consumers as DIY) can lead to opportunities for further home automation product sales and professional installations. Connected smart locks can actually act as an extension of a smart hub or controller. They can be used to wirelessly communicate with and control all the devices that make up a home automation system, including lighting, entertainment, thermostats, air, alarms, shades and more. With their lower cost and perceived ease of installation, DIY products have actually broken down barriers for new security installations And they can do all this from a prime, convenient location – the front door, as well as other points of entry like the side or back doors. Plus, smart lock conversion kits like Kwikset Convert let homeowners easily bring home automation capabilities to their door without altering the aesthetics of the entry. Connected smart locks can allow homeowners to set up their home with custom scenarios, right before they step inside. For example, residents can program their lock so that every time they unlock the door, a foyer light goes on, temperatures begin to rise to a set level – even connected coffee makers can begin to make a cup. Portfolio of home automation products One of the best ways to mitigate the ‘threat’ of DIY sales is for dealers and installers to become more versatileSmart locks are just one example of the potential of DIY products to spark a homeowner’s interest in a wide range of other home automation devices, many of which would benefit from professional installation. One of the best ways to mitigate the ‘threat’ of DIY sales is for dealers and installers to become more versatile and offer a complete portfolio of home automation products. The larger the home automation offering, the more devices there are to sell and install, the larger the installation required, the greater the need for professional installation. Many homeowners who feel like they have a certain level of handiness will start by trying to do it themselves with a DIY product. But things don’t always go as planned, especially if they are attempting to set up a robust home automation system. First off, just because a product is DIY doesn’t mean that the old products that are being replaced are going to easily make way for the new. A DIY thermostat or smart lock might require that the old equipment (and possibly wires) get tugged out of the wall. Messy holes might need to be filled. Advantages of professional installation Even after the old system has been removed, homeowners planning on setting up a connected system may soon realise they don’t have the electrical skills or technological know-how to install and connect all devices, get a system programmed correctly, and get everything up and running smoothly. Professional installers have learned from experience; there’s very little that they haven’t seen before. With their years of experience, installers know the best way to automate a home and how to create a custom smart home experience Do-it-yourselfers might be able to solve problems by searching the internet and finding videos. But, then again, they might not. After going the DIY route once, many full-home automation system enthusiasts are beginning to realise that the best way to get things done right the first time is to leave the installation and set-up to a professional. Professional installers can and should bring an extra level of experience and guidance to the process. Their services should go beyond tech installation and also include interface design. With their years of experience, installers know the best way to automate a home – how to create a custom smart home experience that doesn’t make the user feel less than smart. Selling additional home automation products If a problem arises due to installation error, the DIYer does not have any recourse to correct these mistakesResidential security dealers who offer professional installation should be willing to embrace the DIYer who has attempted to do a self-install but has not been able to complete the process successfully. With an open mind to this scenario, they can save the day for the DIYer, as well as create an opportunity to sell additional home automation equipment that the DIYer may not have known to be available. The disparity between DIY and professional installation also brings to light the fact that there are no ‘satisfaction guarantees’ and no ‘installation/labour warranty’ available when a home automation system is installed by a DIYer. If a problem arises with either the equipment connectivity due to installation error, or if a piece of equipment is installed incorrectly, the DIYer does not have any recourse to correct these mistakes. This may not be as critical if a DIYer installs a minor piece of equipment, but with something as critical as securing and protecting their home with a home automation and security system, most people want full peace of mind that everything has been installed correctly. Reduces connection instability According to a 2017 study by the analyst firm, IHS Markit, “The quality of the equipment is usually higher in professionally installed systems, and professional configuration and setup greatly reduces the potential for connection instability…” This is an issue that DIYers may come to realise over time. On the other hand, one issue DIYers may recognise right away, especially if they are attempting to connect multiple devices, is that the connectivity may be inconsistent. Professionally installed devices operating on a wireless protocol might deliver better, consistent, longer-range connectivity IHS Markit explains that, “DIY systems rely on open protocols and Wi-Fi connectivity that can sometimes be unreliable, creating connection issues. Some of the sensors can become unrecognisable to the system, requiring intervention from the user. In contrast, professional wireless systems rely on UL- or EN-certified equipment to operate on the basis of proprietary frequency, enabling them to work with the control panel much more seamlessly.” In other words, professionally installed devices operating on a wireless protocol, even an open-source protocol like Z-Wave, might deliver better, consistent, longer-range connectivity, and fewer headaches. Not everyone is a DIY customer There are customers who want someone to install the devices correctly and help them learn how to use and maintain themThere’s no doubt that there’s a segment of the security and home automation market that loves to spend their free time doing their own home improvement. They are watching videos, reading how-to books and manuals, and enjoying every minute. There’s also a segment of the market whose top goal is to save money up front. For these customers, there’s no getting around the joy of saving money with the lower cost of many DIY products. But there are also a great number of prospective customers out there for whom DIY is of absolutely no interest. These consumers do not want to be their own IT department. They want expert help: they want someone to install the devices correctly and help them learn how to use and maintain them. The IHS Markit study points out what many home automation dealers already know: that the elder and aging-in-place markets are an ideal destination for the security and convenience of home automation products. The study says, “Many senior citizens are not tech savvy enough to install a DIY system by themselves, so they tend to rely on professionally installed systems that are usually maintained by a family member.” Along with the senior citizens market, there are many other market segments out there that still desire worry-free professional installation. Installers should offer a range of products that includes some DIY products, and some leave-it-to-a-pro products Producing complete and custom solutions Perhaps the best way for dealers and installers to stave off that feeling of doom that they might have about DIY is to tackle the problem head on and be creative. Offer a range of products that includes some DIY products, and some leave-it-to-a-pro products – consider the DIY product a great entry point for a more comprehensive system. Play up the peace of mind that comes with professional installations and support that pitch with flexible monitoring contracts and service plans. Share what you do and why; relay your passion for producing complete and custom solutions and communicate how you add value to any and every sale. No one, not even the most tech-savvy consumer, wants to install their own products if the end result is that the product doesn’t work the way it should. That’s where the pros can, should and will always come into play.
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