The security industry as we all understand it today is due for a much-needed paradigm shift. The solutions that security dealers and integrators are installing and deploying today have advanced considerably and for many, those systems do an excellent job safeguarding the homes and small businesses of their customers. However, all of those installed solutions have one inherent flaw: traditional fire alarms and security systems are only reactive in nature.

By reactive, we mean that although today’s fire alarm and security systems are excellent at informing customers of a harmful or damaging event, such as a fire or perhaps a flood that is in progress, they are very poor at predicting when trouble is about to strike.

Analytics predict damaging or fatal events

Knowledge that an event such as a flood is currently taking place within a small business or a home is an incredibly powerful and valuable piece of information. In the case of flooding, the ability to detect and shut off a water leak within the first 30 minutes is capable of reducing damage costs by up to 90 percent. However, imagine if, for example, you were alerted of a drop in a building’s temperature coupled with a low outdoor wind chill before a pipe burst and caused a flood? You would then be able to investigate the issue and take measures to stop the flood from occurring. Today’s technology advancements make this possible and are why the security industry should be shifting from reactive to preventative security solutions for their customers.

Today’s fire alarm and security
systems are very poor at predicting
when trouble is about to strike

Systems that can predict damaging or fatal events — such as carbon monoxide build-up, mould damage or flooding and even fires — may sound like science fiction but they exist and they are possible today through the power of predictive analytics. Put simply, predictive analytics is the use of data, statistical analysis, and machine learning techniques to identify the probability of future outcomes based on historical data. To better understand the current state of the security industry and where it needs to evolve, we need to break down how predictive analytics play into that shift in layman security dealer and integrator terms.

Dangers of binary data messengers

In their most basic form, many of the standard devices and solutions security dealers install every day are “binary” data messengers. A door/window sensor, for example, understands two data points — “open” and “closed” — and communicates that status to the overall system, which may ignore the message unless the system is armed. While a smoke/CO detector may appear to be a more complicated example, within fire alarm and security systems it behaves in the same way the door/window sensor example does by communicating “smoke/CO detected” or “no smoke/CO detected” back to the overall system.

In our current industry state, systems monitor for dichotomies: open/closed, locked/unlocked, motion/stillness, smoke or CO detected/no smoke or CO detected, and water/no water detected. While the ability to detect these status changes is important, monitoring for a change in two data points is the current limitation of today’s fire alarm and security systems, and the reason why we need the additional layer of predictive analytics to move the industry forward.

Rather than relying on a system consisting of binary data messengers that only communicate two data points, a better solution is a system of data collectors and messengers that can constantly measure an environment, store that information and establish baselines and patterns.

One predictive analytics system accurately anticipated and warned users of a fire 18 minutes before any smoke alarms sounded
A system using predictive analytics can alert a building manager, property owner or other professional to the change in status that might indicate a future fire, flood, or CO leak

The ability for a system featuring predictive analytics to identify the likelihood of future outcome (i.e., potential flood or fire) relies on that system’s ability to supply historical data from multiple sources. As common sensors that security dealers install regularly continue to advance, standalone devices are getting better at measuring several data points. For example, a single PIR motion sensor may also be capable of measuring sound, lux levels, temperature, and humidity, making that single sensor a very data-rich device that can then process and provide more useful information.

Anticipating future incidents

With predictive analytics, the more data points the algorithm has access to, the more sophisticated the system becomes, and the better it is at predicting future outcomes. By learning what’s “normal” within an installed environment via the data provided by the wireless sensors that connect to the system, cloud-based predictive analytics engines can understand when critical environmental factors and patterns are out of their traditional threshold.

The system can then alert a building manager, property owner or other professional to the change in status that might indicate a future fire, flood, or CO leak. For example, in UL research testing with smouldering fires, one such system accurately anticipated and warned users of a fire 18 minutes before any smoke alarms sounded.

Predictive analytics algorithms can understand patterns in order to make more educated decisions
and predictions

Understanding predictive analytics and familiarity with the in-market solutions that leverage that emerging technology can help security dealers and integrators prevent damage to their client’s businesses or homes via preventative alert notifications, while at the same time augmenting their own business and bottom line.

Because these types of solutions rely on the same data and information collected by traditional devices and sensors within the security industry, integrators can choose to install a system with a predictive analytics engine as the base system, or choose to augment their existing installations with a predictive system to add early-warning capabilities.

Educated decisions for preventative security

To a degree, many dealers are already familiar with the concept of predictive analytics and understand the benefit it can provide to an installation. We’ve already seen one-off devices — take the Nest thermostat for example — that learn what they can about their environment and then make simple decisions on their own to impact their surroundings. Similarly, a flood, smoke, or CO sensor that utilises predictive analytics learns its normal environment and sends detailed alerts when there are any abnormal changes in temperature, moisture, or air quality.

What makes emerging technologies such as predictive analytics, deep learning, machine learning and artificial intelligence the future of many industries, including security, is the algorithms’ ability to constantly aggregate multiple data points and data types, understand patterns among them, and make more educated decisions and predictions. As the sensors and devices security dealers regularly install continue to get smaller, less expensive, and more integrated, we enter an era where we have more data available to us than ever before on our connected environments.

With all the data points available today, why not take advantage of systems that provide powerful algorithms to process, learn and act on that information? Security dealers who recognise we’re on the cusp of a turning point within the industry and shift from offering reactive to preventative security solutions are the ones who will continue to thrive as the industry evolves.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

Dan Parent COO & Vice President of Engineering, OneEvent Technologies

In case you missed it

How intelligent video surveillance supports smart mobility
How intelligent video surveillance supports smart mobility

The ease of getting from point A to point B, the effective movement of goods and services, and the flexibility and integration of various modes of transportation are key aspects of mobility today. Smart Mobility has been a key theme in the transportation industry for a while. The idea is to keep traffic flowing and help people to get where they need to be, in a smarter way. To this end, industry players are now innovating and introducing advanced technologies and solutions. Examples include intelligent traffic management systems, free-flow tolls, autonomous driving, smart location solutions, and more. At the same time, traffic congestion, aging infrastructure, rapid urbanisation, and increasing sustainability demands are also intensifying the need for smart mobility solutions. One way to overcome these obstacles is to use intelligent video surveillance technology for improved traffic management, making the roads safer and more efficient for every user, while also reducing emissions. Perceptive intersections Relying on intelligent video analytics, traffic video cameras identify traffic build ups at intersections by counting numbers of vehicles crossing an intersection and detecting their speed, while also counting the number of vehicles queueing in real-time. Aggregated data informs the system when to switch traffic lights to red or green. Intelligent optimisation for traffic signals ensures more effective traffic flow.Aggregated data informs the system when to switch traffic lights to red or green The benefits? Improved safety on the roadways; intersection reconstruction can be avoided; drivers can be advised about the speed of their route, forecasted by traffic signals; reduced wait times and stress for commuters; reduction of harmful emissions; and positive impact on public satisfaction. Road safety Traffic incidents can be disastrous, not merely for causing congestion on the roads but sometimes far worse – resulting in injuries and even fatalities. These incidents have many causes, not the least of which is drivers willfully violating traffic laws. Video technology can aid in detecting all kinds of events – for example, illegal parking, running a red light, wrong-way driving, speeding, and making illegal U-turns can all be detected by smart camera technology. By using deep learning technology, cameras can recognise these events and traffic authorities can be immediately notified and take necessary actions even before traffic incidents occur. Scenarios include stopping a driver who is occupying an emergency lane, or notifying a driver who parked their car illegally. Furthermore, ticketing systems can be incorporated to further regulate driving behaviors. Benefits here include incident prevention, better driver performance, and increased safety on the roads and streets, to name just a few. Scenarios include stopping a driver who is occupying an emergency lane, or notifying a driver who parked their car illegally Public information Sharing information is key to keeping city drivers and travelers informed. Intelligent communication about warnings and updates helps everyone save time, avoid frustration, and simplify everyday mobility. This can be done via traffic guidance screens displayed at highly visible locationsThis can be done via traffic guidance screens displayed at highly visible locations, such as congested areas, transportation hubs, shopping malls, and city plazas – or even at your fingertips on your favorite mobile apps! Traffic video cameras generate real-time data of traffic flow and incidents, sending it to a central platform to further fuse with data from third-party systems such as radar and GPS systems. They also disseminate traffic information, including traffic status, warning and advisory notices, as well as parking status.  The benefits are improved public awareness of traffic information, improved travel convenience, overall enhancement of mobility in the city, and more. The Hikvision practice Hikvision has accumulated sophisticated experience in traffic management both at home and abroad. Product lines offer versatile solutions to resolve multitudes of problems in urban traffic management, traffic incident management, highway management, and more. Going deeper, it’s essential to note that efficient signal control management is dependent on the quality of traffic data, system algorithms, and the hardware devices in use; it is also closely related to the mobile environment, such as road conditions, historical traffic conditions, and urban infrastructure. Because of this, no single solution solves traffic congestion everywhere. Hikvision believes that only by working closely with city authorities, public safety organisations, consultants, even academia and other relevant stakeholders, can applications and operational processes be developed to achieve the best possible outcomes. The possibilities for traffic video data are endless, especially now that it can employ artificial intelligence for advanced functionality. Harnessing its power will make all the difference, but the ultimate goal remains the same: safe and smooth traffic, smart mobility, and improved quality of human life.

What impact are data analytics having on security?
What impact are data analytics having on security?

We live in an era of Big Data. Surrounded by a flood of information, more companies are looking for ways to analyse that information (data) and systematically extract information that can help them operate more efficiently and profitably. The data obsession has extended to the physical security industry, too, where large amounts of data have historically been a little-used byproduct of our access control and even video systems. But the picture is changing. We asked this week's Expert Panel Roundtable: What impact are data analytics having on the security market?

Embracing digital transformation in the security industry
Embracing digital transformation in the security industry

Many industries are, to a greater or lesser extent, in the throes of digital transformation. As with any change programme, digital transformation efforts often under-perform against expectations. Yet, the number of digital transformation programmes continue to increase, as commercial pressures intensify. As security professionals we need to embrace our role in digital transformation, as security is everybody’s business. For all those people weary of hearing about digital transformation and believe it’s a business fad, consider your own behaviours. If you use a smartphone to search, find, order, buy, message, watch, learn, play, bank, pay, enter, exit, navigate, communicate and more then you are part of the reason that digital transformation is a commercial necessity. The way we live our lives has changed significantly over the past twenty years and this needs to be reflected into how we rethink the way we do business. Digital transformation is about more than technology, it allows people to solve their traditional problems in new and better ways than before. Better can mean faster, at lower cost, using fewer resources, easier to maintain, more compliant and/or easier to report insights. IoT, criminal activity and security  The number of internet connected devices worldwide is increasing at an exponential rate; by the end of 2025 there are expected to be 75.44 billion. Internet of Things (IoT) means digital transformation converges physical and digital for security professionals. Criminals use smarter digital tools such as malware, drones, key cloners, signal readers and more, which impact both physical and cybersecurity. To counter this, digital transformation provides security professionals with access As security professionals we need to embrace our role in digital transformation, as security is everybody’s businessto valuable actionable insights to identify and deter threats to people and assets. All transformation starts with an idea generated by people and ends with people experiencing the output. Therefore, digital transformation starts and ends with people. To ensure a solid foundation to any digital transformation agenda, people need to have a clear purpose to engage. This is where security leaders can inspire their colleagues with a laudable purpose of embracing disruption at the same time as focusing on safeguarding people and assets. Non-security colleagues should understand that security risks are advancing at a faster pace than enterprises can adapt. As a security leader, you are advocating a movement where your colleagues adopt relevant enterprise security risk management practices in their daily thinking and working. The message is clear that digital transformation presents abundant opportunities and these need to be evaluated alongside the proliferating security threats that can become a business continuity failure. Security professionals and digital influence  The number of internet connected devices worldwide is increasing at an exponential rate; by the end of 2025 there are expected to be 75.44 billionSecurity professionals can influence digital transformation success by translating an enterprise’s strategy into secure operational reality. The security narrative should emphasise the people side of digital transformation and how technology can act as an enabler of a safe and secure experience, both for employees and customers. Operationally, digital transformation is about agility, adaptability and navigating uncertainty. Old ways of thinking and working will be blockers to transformation, so security leaders ought to identify the rapid enablers of a ‘secure’ digital transformation. Better people, processes and overall technology People generally don’t want more in their lives, they want better. Better people. Better data. Better technology. Better processes. Digital transformation creates significant ‘better’ benefits for security: For example, connected (IoT) sensors, video analytics at the edge and machine learning identify threats faster; workflow technologies and automation detect, investigate and remediate routine responses; cloud provides many benefits such as agility, scale and mobility; and, smartphones/digital devices provide real-time communication and collaboration. Tackling all the ‘better’ needs within a security approach is necessary – focusing on the prioritised commercial needs first. Think about how to drive radical simplification into digital transformation agendas to ensure complexity doesn’t create too many unmanageable risks. Designing enterprise security risk management into the business operating model will facilitate colleagues to be empowered for safe and secure change. Communicating security successes and breaches with commercial impact insights in a timely and concise manner across the enterprise will prove the value of active security engagement throughout digital transformation programmes. Transforming the world Digital technology is transforming the world around us, in a way that impacts every area of security. Security professionals are now businesspeople and technologists, in addition to their traditional security remits. Embracing this impacts security recruitment, training and employee engagement, within the security team and with non-security colleagues. Without a doubt, security professionals are integral to digital transformation programmes.