"the cusp of a smart revolution"

WATCH: The future of security tech in a networked world

Peter French MBE

Founder & CEO, SSR Personnel

Author Bio ▼

Peter French MBE Member of the British Empire 2010,  ASIS Certified Protection Professional and Fellow of The Security Institute:  Principal Founding Member, former Trustee and Past Master of The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals;  Volunteer Chair of the European Advisory Council for ASIS International in Europe 2008 - 15;  Trustee of The Security Benevolent Fund  2007- 2012;   Business - CEO of SSR® Personnel provider of security , Fire engineering , health and safety staffing since 1986  with a number of non-executive appointments.  In 2019, SSR Middle East was awarded best security recruitment consultancy in the Global Business Awards and Peter received the honour, initiated by the Princess Royal as Patron of the City Livery Club , their Root and Branch award for his ongoing work in the Livery movement and for charity.
October 21, 2019

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A Barbour guide to business continuity

SSR Personnel and Executive Profiles asked several senior leaders in the electronic security sector how they foresee a future world changed by technology.

The debate about strengthening cyber/information security capabilities will be dominated by the need to protect the liberties of both citizens and corporations.

Politics will affect civil liberties, technology assistance in one country might well become restrictive in another. For instance, if we’re at war with an increasingly sophisticated terror group, such as IS, for 100 years, civil restrictions that repress elements of the population might become accepted as a price worth paying.

But we will want to capitalise on the power of a networked world that facilitates automation, efficiencies, friction-free business activity and compliance with policy and regulations.

The convergence of real-time analytics, machine learning, commodity sensors, embedded systems and the internet of things holistically describes connected sensors, wireless networks and cloud platforms. Yet this creates a new sphere of vulnerabilities by increasing the number of ways that confidential data can be accessed and stolen.

What is clear is that these opportunities and threats will make the security industry an exciting sector to be part of.

In the video below a number of experts in physical security technologies offer their thoughts on how technological innovation will transform business models for installers and integrators, accelerate the convergence of physical security and cybersecurity and provide security teams with powerful new capabilities. Further down we’ve gathered some written responses on the same issues.

The more diversified the skillset, the more valuable the employee: Chris Antonio, managing director, GD Security Systems

There’s never been a better time to enter the electronic security industry. The days of just installing field devices and running point-to-point cabling to a control box are being confined to the past.

The industry is much more diverse, more technical and more far-reaching than ever before, embracing IT infrastructures, client servers and software-based technologies across global networks. These advancements mean there are new requirements for young, technology-minded individuals with a broad range of different IT skills.

Client PCs, servers and software all form part of modern-day electronic security, with security manufacturers all gearing their own products to be IP-based. The exchange of data has never been quicker.

The industry is in short supply of engineering technicians and design consultants with an in-depth knowledge of IT. This in turn opens up a realm of opportunities for an individual with the required skills. Simply put, the more diversified skills one possesses, the more valuable the employee will become.

The trend is set to continue and evolve further. It’s a perfect time to explore the opportunities the security industry has to offer.

Threats come through the network, not the front door: Alistair Enser, CEO, Reliance Hi Tech

When I joined the security industry 25 years ago we were often recording black and white CCTV images onto video recorders. Intruder alarms were connected to a telephone line and monitored from a monitoring station, or they just rang until somebody got annoyed and phoned the police. And access control consisted mostly of basic magnetic cards that let you in or out of a specific door.

It was unusual and difficult to integrate products together and the cabling was unique in every case. Remote connectivity was the ‘stuff of dreams’ and there was no internet or smartphones to assist. In most cases we were protecting physical items within a building using physical means, detection and deterrent.

Today with the IoT, nearly everything we touch is networked. A lot of business is now less worried about the theft of a laptop or physical device than the data on it or disruption caused. The threats may come in through the network, not the front door, and often the damage can be reputation as well as physical.

Nowadays we expect things to work seamlessly together and software, apps, cloud and AI bring so much automation, value and power to our fingertips it is unbelievable.

Our industry has truly embraced the digital revolution, which brings challenges and requires new skills. How do you set up complex, fast, high traffic networks for transferring ultra-high definition images, while maintaining cybersecurity? What benefits can we create for our customers through the smart use of technology, for example using footfall and behaviour analysis to predict events or manage building energy and usage?

If we build smart, connected and highly integrated ecosystems with the many different types of sensors and device available, we cannot only secure a building or a company, but we can add value to their marketing, save them energy, increase their productivity, improve health and safety. The list is endless.

Whether designing products with innovative features and smart analytics, or systems and solutions delivering added value to customers, it’s clear that the security industry will continue to evolve digitally with ever more interesting and powerful services.  This will require tech savvy, smart and innovative inventors, entrepreneurs, engineers and support personnel.

We – not AWS or Microsoft – are the leaders in business continuity and resilience: Andy Rainforth, managing director, Grosvenor Technology

If you are an ambitious and forward-thinking IT graduate, there’s never been a better time to join the security space. Listen to keynotes from AWS or Microsoft and you could be led to believe they are the leaders in business continuity and resilience.

However, it’s the security industry that has been quietly working to, and achieving, these same goals for decades. Yes, a reliable cloud ERP or CRM system is key to a business’s continuity, but a security system protects their two most valuable assets: their people and their data.

That makes it an exciting sector to be involved in and why, I believe, our sector offers talented IT engineers the chance to build a successful, long-term career. Challenges presented by new compliance requirements and the increased use of cloud services mean that security is one of the fastest-evolving industries and this will always create opportunities.

Security companies must offer a full package including associated IT: Tony Anderson, UK & Ireland operations director, G4S Fire & Security Systems

Within the security industry one of the biggest changes we are seeing is the merging of IT/networking technology and physical security tech. In a world where every device is now IP connected, with online connectivity and remote diagnostics, the clear line that divided the two industries is becoming blurred.

Clients no longer want to hire a security company and a separate IT/networking company but are looking for a single company to provide all services. As IT/networking companies move into the security market, traditional security companies equally have to embrace these requirements and offer a full package which includes the security network and associated IT.

From a security company perspective this makes a big difference to the type of skills we need to look for in our engineering, design and technical teams. No longer can we simply employ engineers with security system experience as we are now installing increasingly complex security networks and IT infrastructure. Therefore our engineering and technical skill must include networking, IT infrastructure and IT security, such as CCNA.

Engineers and technical staff more than ever before have to be capable of a broad range of skills to deal with these new IT/networking requirements alongside traditional electronics.

Security companies must champion the benefits of professional installation over DIY solutions: Jamie Allam, commercial director, Amthal Fire & Security

According to the latest Security Systems Market Research Report: “The security systems market is a dynamic and highly growing market in terms of wireless industrial security, electronic security, smart devices (smart cards, smart locks and alarms), connected home security and asset tracking.”

More and more devices being connected under IoT and enabling of remote connection is another driving factor. The security industry is fast-paced and entering an exciting period of transition.

With smart solutions having promised so much for so long, technology is now integrating to present opportunities to maximise their impact. In commercial settings, intelligent buildings and corresponding management systems are quickly evolving to create smart workspaces.  These now embrace flexible working and ‘free flow’ spaces to encourage productivity, collaboration and growth in a safe and secure environment.

In our homes, we are increasingly taking advantage of smart alarms, CCTV, video doorbells and visual verification – especially given media coverage of budget cuts to the police and a low priority given to resolving burglaries.

The opportunities in smart home technology are clear.  We are now entering the voice-assistant era, where wireless-controlled devices have bridged the technological gap, enabling users to more easily access the benefits of home automation solutions.

A threat to such advances in home automation is the continued concerns over privacy, such as voice-controlled systems ‘listening’ in and smart devices storing too much personal information.

It is up to defiant security companies to illustrate the advantages of smart security, whether in a commercial or residential setting, and to champion the benefits of choosing professional installation over DIY solutions, considering all aspects from price point to design and integration capability.

The CCTV and intrusion markets are rapidly transitioning from capital expenditure items to subscription-based services: Paul Grist, director UK, Trigion Security Services

The last decade has seen monumental developments within the fire and security industry, not only in the UK, but worldwide.

The CCTV and intruder alarm market is rapidly transitioning from capital expenditure items to subscription-based services combining installation, monitoring and maintenance.

Established companies have the advantage of being able to utilise their extensive customer bases and the proliferation of IoT devices to provide the same capabilities as existing security systems, but without the need for dedicated hardware.

Security companies are implementing increasingly sophisticated machine learning techniques in order to effectively identify potential threats.

It is imperative that the electronic and manned security services provide a seamless response: utilising image processing, computer vision and threat intelligence to protect assets, people and reputation.

System integration will be the key transformation in the next decade: Andy Ellis, VP & general manager, building technologies & solutions, Johnson Controls

We are on the cusp of a smart revolution. The number of connected devices in the IoT continues to grow exponentially, so staying on top of the latest technology is crucial for the future of security.

Frankly, what looks like the best system for the job now might not be in just a few years’ time. With that in mind, we need the best talent to ensure the security profession isn’t outgrown by technology.

The key principles of security currently are innovation and integration. Integrated systems are becoming more and more important as smart buildings start to dominate our cities’ skylines.

The future of security is knowing who is in your building, where, and when – and having instant access to every piece of data a building holds. This requires the best possible system integration, bringing together access management and cybersecurity with HVAC, lighting, fire safety and energy management in one central place.

The growing importance of system integration will be the key transformation to the security industry in the next decade.  Security professionals have decades of invaluable experience – but the need for innovation outgrows even the most seasoned industry expert.

This is where students and graduates come in. To strengthen the future of our industry, we need innovation-focused talent coming in at the bottom – and there’s never been a more exciting time to join us.


 

The pace of innovation in the technical space, including the speed with which security manufacturers upgrade/change their systems, will create new revenue opportunities for suppliers through subscription-based sales.

Little has been said about whether the general public will accept these powerful new technologies, but we foresee ‘Generation Alphas’ being enthusiastic adopters.

Indeed, they may be happy to have smart chips surgically implanted for an integrated network, making communications seamless and never requiring batteries as they personally act as the device and battery. A group of students in Sweden recently chose to have access control chips surgically implanted to improve their university experience – the concerns of 1984 and Big Brother that animated their parents seemingly not shared.

We thank all those who have contributed to this article.

Free Download: Connected security for smart infrastructure

Explore what the rise of the Internet of Things means for people, homes and businesses, and how smart technology is making them more connected than ever. This free eBook from Abloy UK discusses the changing face of smart buildings, cities and infrastructure.

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Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan
October 1, 2019 8:34 pm

Great article Peter. Great comments & insights by all but I particularly agree to Paul Grist’s views.

Peter French
Peter French
October 4, 2019 7:50 am
Reply to  Rashid Khan

Thank you Rashid , it comes together well

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