10 Technology Trends That Are Boosting Enterprise Security
The world is a far more dangerous place today than it was just a generation ago, and that means that the enterprise itself is a much more dangerous place as well. There are more bad guys out there than ever before, and they are more organised, more aggressive and more sophisticated than ever before. Fortunately, the good guys are far from alone—they are supported by ever-improving technologies that can help keep them on the right side of the power balance. This article discusses, in no particular order, several of the key technology trends that are currently or soon will be helping enterprises of all kinds remain secure and productive.
4G mobile capability
4th generation (4G) broadband wireless greatly increases the speed with which digital data is sent and received, and is enabling many new applications, including quite a few with exciting security implications. For example, the bandwidth delivered by 4G allows a security director waiting for a plane at Heathrow to monitor a video surveillance feed from a factory in China on his handheld as if he were there in person; the latency of 3G service would be too great to even consider this. There is even enough information being sent fast enough to enable facial recognition or fingerprint matching right from a mobile phone.
Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6)
As long as most people have used the Internet, addresses under IPv4 have been the rule, with the familiar four sets of 1-3 digits separated by dots. Like area codes before it, this scheme began to run out of numbers in an accelerated fashion as people sought to assign them to more and more unanticipated devices. The new IPv6 scheme theoretically allows for 2128 unique addresses, which is reportedly an amount in the undecillions, or, as some scientists are saying, more addresses than there are atoms on the earth. In security terms, the advent of IPv6 means that there will be no practical limit to assigning a unique address to every camera, every package, every vending machine, every individual piece of tagged merchandise, or anything else we want to communicate with or track through the internet.
One of the biggest installation costs in a major perimeter security system is wiring the power to it, even when communication itself is wireless. This fact has often made broad area surveillance of large, remote or open areas, such as ports, impractical or cost-prohibitive. Energy harvesting technologies such as solar panels and chips are allowing for revolutionary advances in camera placement flexibility and system configurability, as well as easier, faster and lower-cost installations.
Solid state disk drives
With solid state technology, data storage devices are providing greater storage capacity in a smaller size, while decreasing in cost. They are also more robust, standing up to everything from impacts to water far better than the traditional "phonograph needle" hard drive, and, with no moving parts, providing much longer useful life as well. Video surveillance is very data intensive, and solid state drives, like flash drives or memory cards, can hold more video, write and retrieve it faster, and keep it more secure than ever before.
Wireless mesh networks
Wireless mesh networks are WiFi radio networks with fixed nodes, each acting as a router so if one fails or is damaged by a perpetrator, wireless packets can be rerouted through other nodes. Wireless mesh networks allow wireless video surveillance coverage over wide areas, with two-way audio as well. And, they eliminate wiring costs that might be prohibitive for wide-area applications.
Service oriented architecture
Not too long ago, every manufacturer used proprietary software architecture, and its systems and devices could not communicate with those of another manufacturer without the user creating an expensive customised software bridge between them. Those days, thankfully, are over. Most vendors are now using open standards, allowing users to more easily blend disparate systems and get them communicating with each other. Now, for example, an HR data base can communicate with a security access control system, so when an employee is terminated, their ability to come and go on the premises is also terminated instantly and automatically, rather than waiting for a manual deletion which could lag dangerously behind.
Data mining consists of analysing reams of information for patterns that would otherwise be buried, basically uncovering the needle in the haystack. When an unusual pattern is identified, such as something different in the way a credit card is used, an alert is triggered for further investigation. Data mining can also be used forensically in video images.
The promise of video analytics, long hyped in the press, is finally becoming a reality, with the technology making some major leaps in the last couple of years. It's very useful in marketing applications, helping to analyse store traffic patterns, for example. But its real power lies in security applications. The technology allows real time exception monitoring, keeping an unblinking eye out for a certain type of objects or movement entering a video frame. For example, if there is a bag where there was no bag before, or a vertical movement, such as a person climbing a fence, where there was only horizontal movement before, an alarm can be automatically triggered.
High resolution/high definition video
"Megapixel" high resolution and high definition video delivers clearer and more detailed images over distance, allowing clearer zoom-in for facial recognition, or allowing better license tag identification on vehicles at greater distances and moving at faster speeds.
Intelligent mass notification
This technology allows warnings and information to be broadcast to large numbers of people on all kinds of devices to provide potentially life saving information quickly. If there is a gunman in a campus building, or a bomb threat, or a tornado on the way, a notification server can instantly alert those in harm's way through text message, email, cell phone, desk phone, or other preferred means of communication no matter where they are, suggesting evasive action and providing other instructions. The technology can also provide instant updates to all security personnel in a given area simultaneously, keeping everyone safely on the same page.