Is security’s ‘future’ happening right now?

There are certain technological topics that continually crop up in the security market which many dismiss as being ‘of the future’. However, is this summary accurate, and does it reflect end user demands? The answer to both questions is ‘No’. Unless the security market sits up and takes notice of what customers are looking for, and currently that is ‘smart technology’,we risk creating a significant disconnect between ourselves and end users. The only outcome will be missed opportunities for the industry.


he security industry is undoubtedly influenced by technological advances in the ‘outside world’. Whether these influences come from other industries or the consumer market makes little difference. They do impact on the technology we use.

When the security market made the move to digital surveillance, the original push was for megapixel video using a 4:3 aspect ratio. There was a slither of logic in this. Legacy solutions using analogue video were geared up for 4:3 video, components held in stock by many manufacturers were optimised for 4:3 video, most CCTV displays used a 4:3 format and the number of security devices capable of delivering 16:9 aspect ratios was limited.

Meanwhile, the world outside of security was ditching 4:3 as fast as it possibly could. HD was the new kid on the block, and everyone wanted a slice of it. Consumer goods such as televisions, PCs, monitors, cameras, camcorders, smart devices and even phones were going down the HD route. IT adopted HD and its 16:9 format, and that impacted on business use.

At the time, many industry leaders dismissed HD as a consumer trend that had no real place in the security sector. For some reason they thought they could simply ignore what the rest of the electronics sector was doing. Despite this, customer demand for HD increased and the inevitable happened.

Today we accept the wisdom of following other markets with regard to video formats. Customers still demand HD, and the first signs of calls for 4K surveillance video are surfacing. Interestingly, this time few are arguing against 4K becoming increasingly relevant as a security tool. However, that doesn’t mean attitudes have totally changed.

In recent months I have had an increasing number of conversations relating to the Internet of Things (IoT), intelligent buildings and smart homes. Whilst most people have considered how these technologies may impact on the delivery of security systems, only a few see them as being relevant today. The remainder claim that they are ‘of the future’, and hold a general attitude that they should be addressed as and when the time is right. Sadly, it seems to be another bout of blinkered thinking.

Here’s the reason that I say that: the time is now. In the consumer sector, in IT, in industry, the IoT is real. Corporates are investing in the creation of smart buildings today. Consumers are equipping their homes with smart technology right now.

Two pieces of research emerged very recently. The first looked at how IoT and integration into intelligent buildings can aid businesses. Of the technologies listed, the top three were all linked to the security sector: streaming video, smart locks and audio/video intercom systems. The second piece of research looked at demand for smart-home technologies. Top of the list was security. This was security of the home and assets, not cyber security.

Interestingly, the demand was for non-cloud based systems; people want something more reliable.

Much of what made up these ‘wish-lists’ is widely available from the security industry. However, these users are looking for solutions from the providers of smart building technologies and IoT devices. Why? Probably because the security industry currently doesn’t engage with these markets. After all, many of the industry experts keep telling us they are ‘of the future’.

The reality is that the demand is here, now; can we really afford to ignore it?

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