A few friends from the security industry will gather this April to see, hear and touch the latest technologies to make the world a safer place. Actually, more than a few: there will be more than 30,000 security professionals gathering at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas April 11-13 for the International Security Conference and Exposition, usually known as ISC West.

Many of the attendees will be returning to what has become a yearly ritual. The site, the players, the pace and even atmosphere of ISC West are as familiar to many as a family reunion. But the industry is changing, and those changes will be reflected in big ways at ISC West. Let’s consider a few themes we will be hearing about at the show. 

The cybersecurity of physical security systems

Cybersecurity has gone from being the “elephant in the room” to an existential crisis for the physical security industry: How can an industry promote security unless its own products and systems can operate securely? For a long time, no one talked about cybersecurity. Some attending ISC West may wonder if now we are talking about it too much, at the risk of too much talk and not enough action.

Almost every contribution to our “review and forecast” articles for 2018 mentioned cybersecurity. Every industry event I have attended so far this year has put cybersecurity front and centre. It will certainly be a major topic at ISC West.Cybersecurity has gone from being the “elephant in the room” to an existential crisis for the physical security industry

Here’s the challenge for attendees to ISC West: If every manufacturer talks earnestly about cybersecurity, how can potential customers tell who is really serious about the topic, and who is merely paying lip service to the latest industry buzzword? If we all agree that cybersecurity is “everyone’s problem” – not just manufacturers, but also integrators and users – does no one really take responsibility?

As the industry becomes more educated about cybersecurity, we can expect more detailed and challenging questions on the subject to permeate the ISC West show floor. Some manufacturers have likened cybersecurity more broadly to the issue of trust. Do you trust a manufacturer to address cybersecurity issues? Or do you trust them in general?

The cybersecurity discussions will begin even before the show floor opens, on Tuesday, April 10, in a session titled “Cybersecurity Tier Zero: A Guide to the First Steps of Cyber Hardening.” – just one of the many other education sessions on Tuesday.

The emergence of video analytics 2.0

Deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have become more familiar to the physical security market, and some AI applications are driving new industry trends such as robotics and analysing Big Data. But the biggest potential impact of deep learning is in the field of video analytics, a decades-old technology that has perpetually overpromised and underdelivered.

Deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have become more familiar to the physical security market, and some AI applications are driving new industry trends
The video analytics systems are not programmed, they “learn,” using massive data sets and neural networks and GPU processors and all the rest

The new wave of video analytics products claims to provide a higher level of accuracy because they operate more like the human brain. These new systems are not programmed, they “learn,” using massive data sets and neural networks and GPU processors and all the rest.

But consider the bottom line: Do the new video analytics products really perform and eliminate excessive false alarms? Can they effectively search large amounts of stored video and find the few frames that can make the difference in an investigation?

Months have lapsed since the first deep learning products were announced - or, at least, “teased”. It’s been sufficient time for manufacturers to develop products that are ready for market, but are they? ISC West attendees will be scouring the booths for the latest developments and asking tough questions about how well these newfangled systems will actually perform.It’s all happening in the smart home market – but how fast and what will be the impact on the traditional burglar alarm business

The changing smart home market

We all want Siri to set our thermostat or Cortana to arm the alarm system. We want to view video from our nanny-cams on our smart phones, and to turn on the lights from anywhere around the world. It’s all happening in the smart home market – but how fast and what will be the impact on the traditional burglar alarm business that is the bread-and-butter of many security companies?

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can make a lot of things happen in the smart home environment, but what about other networking standards such as ZigBee and Z-Wave? The stakes are huge, which is why the big tech companies – from Apple to Amazon to Google – are staking their claims in the home automation market. Just this year, Amazon has purchased Ring, a video doorbell and security camera company – which will also be exhibiting at ISC West.

But it’s unclear what such moves in Silicon Valley will mean for traditional security companies. The growth of do-it-yourself (DIY) systems introduces even more variables, as do alarm companies with new business models and even cloud-based approaches. Many exhibitors at ISC West – from ADT to Z-Wave – are addressing the new smart home environment and can help those attending the show do the same. About 40 companies are exhibiting in the “Connected Home” arena. 

From robots to drones to counter-drone solutions, there other new technologies being displayed at ISC West
The Unmanned Security and Safety Expo will return, including a dedicated complimentary education theatre for attendees

Drones, robotics and education

From robots to drones to counter-drone solutions, there other new technologies being displayed at ISC West. The Unmanned Security and Safety Expo will return, including a dedicated complimentary education theatre for attendees offering sessions on topics such as “Drones – Friends or Foes to the Security Industry?” 

There is a level of novelty to these technologies, and attendees might be lured by the entertainment value of a subject that may fall outside their job description. But one education session addresses the nuts and bolts in the real world: “Selling the Value of Security Robots by Setting Realistic Expectations.” Could these new gadgets play a bigger role than we think in the future of the security market? 

For all its familiarity, there is always something new for attendees at ISC West. It may be a startup company with an intriguing value proposition tucked into a tiny booth at the back of the hall. Or it could be a big surprise news announcement from a major player. For attendees, the best surprise of all is that valuable piece of information they can take home to make their business better. Here’s hoping you find it!

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Larry Anderson Editor, 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.

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