By Johan Paulsson, CTO, Axis Communications
The fact that technology has become pervasive in our personal and work lives is not news. This is largely due to the benefits that new technologies bring to businesses and citizens around the world in delivering new, more effective, and increasingly efficient services.
However, the depth of technology’s integration into our lives, advances in its capabilities, and heightened awareness of its implications in society are also greater than ever and continue to accelerate.
Given this, many of the broad macro trends around the globe – spanning geopolitical issues, economic uncertainty, environmental concerns, and human rights – have implications for all technology sectors, the security industry included.
Ours is a sector using increasingly intelligent technology, one inherently involved in collecting sensitive data, and as impacted by geopolitical issues affecting international trade as any. Yet we’re still resolute in our view that our innovations will create a smarter, safer world.
These are the six key technology trends that we believe will affect the security sector in 2023.
A move towards actionable insights
The increasing application of AI and machine learning have seen a focus on the opportunity for advanced analytics in recent years. Moving forward, the shift in focus will move from the analytics themselves, to the actionable insights they deliver in specific use cases. It’s less about telling you something is wrong, and more about helping you decide what action to take.
A key driver for employing analytics to deliver actionable insights is the huge increase in data being generated by surveillance cameras, along with other sensors integrated into a solution. The data (and metadata) being created would be impossible for human operators to interpret and act upon quickly enough, even with huge and costly increases in resources.
The use of analytics can drive real-time actions which support safety, security, and operational efficiency. From prompts to call emergency services in the case of incidents, to redirecting traffic in cities to alleviate jams, to redeploying staff in busy retail outlets, to saving energy in buildings through more efficient lighting and heating, analytics are recommending, prompting, and even starting to take the actions that support human operators.
Beyond ‘live’ actionable insights, analytics can support in forensic analysis post-incident. Again, given the vast amount of data being created by surveillance cameras, finding the relevant views of a scene can take significant time. This can hinder investigations and reduce the likelihood of suspects being found. Assisted search addresses this issue, helping operators quickly find individuals and objects of interest among hours of footage.
Finally, proposed actions promoted by analytics are increasingly forward-looking. Downtime in industrial sites and factories can be costly. A combination of sensors allows intelligent analytics to propose preventative maintenance ahead of outright failure.
“From analytics to action” will become a mantra for 2023.
Use case-defined hybrid architectures
As we’ve highlighted in previous technology trends posts, it’s now commonly accepted that a hybrid technology architecture is best-suited for security systems, mixing on-premise servers, cloud-based compute, and powerful edge devices.
No one architecture fits all scenarios, however. But here lies the solution: first assess what needs to be addressed in your specific use case, and then define the hybrid solution that will meet your needs. A number of factors need to be considered.
Undoubtedly the advantages of advanced analytics embedded in surveillance cameras on the edge of the network are clear. Analysis of the highest-quality images the instant they are captured gives organizations the best chance to react in real time.
Equally, the data generated by surveillance cameras is now useful beyond the real-time view. Analysis of trends over time can deliver insights leading to operational efficiencies. This analysis often demands the processing power found in on-premise servers or the cloud.
And of course, there are the requirements – often defined by regulation – around data privacy and storage that vary from country to country and region-to-region. These can define the difference between on-premise storage and the use of the cloud.
What’s essential is not to tie yourself to a single architecture. Remain open, give yourself the flexibility to create the hybrid architecture best suited to your specific needs.
The emergence of cybersecurity sub-trends
The importance of cybersecurity is also highlighted through the requirement to remain compliant. For instance, the proposed European Commission’s Cyber Resilience Act will place greater demands on producers of hardware and software across all sectors to ensure the cybersecurity of their products, through fewer vulnerabilities at launch, and better cybersecurity management throughout the products’ lifecycles. The security and surveillance sector will, of course, be included.
The Act demonstrates both the importance and the complexity of cybersecurity. No longer can it be seen as one subject, but rather as several interlinked areas. Some of these are well-established, but others are emerging.
In the video surveillance sector, cybersecurity measures that ensure the authenticity and safety of data as it is captured and transferred from the camera to the cloud to the server will be essential to maintain trust in its value.
Technology vendors will see a more proactive approach in identifying vulnerabilities, with ‘bug bounty’ programs becoming commonplace to incentivize external parties.
And customers will expect transparency regarding the cybersecurity of security solutions, with a Software Bill of Materials becoming standard in assessing software security and risk management.
One of the most significant trends for the security sector, and with it an equally-significant opportunity, is the move beyond security.
Surveillance cameras have become powerful sensors. The quality of video information they capture, in all conditions, has increased year-on-year for decades. Today, through advanced analytics, they also create metadata – information about the video data – which adds another layer of information and value.
This of course improves and enhances their ability to support safety and operational efficiency use cases in addition to security. The opportunity now exists to combine the data created by surveillance cameras with that from other sensors – monitoring temperature, noise, air and water quality, vibration, weather, and more – creating an advanced sensory network allowing data-driven decisions.
We’re already seeing some use of such networks in industrial environments through the monitoring of processes and supporting proactive maintenance. But the use cases in which this network could be applied are limited only by our imaginations, but without a doubt, they can help improve almost every aspect of our lives, including our safety.
Sustainability always, climate change at the forefront
Sustainability has been featured in several of our annual technology trends predictions, and we see no less of a need to maintain momentum behind sustainability initiatives in their broadest sense over the coming year. Ensuring that organizations continue to measure and improve the environmental, societal, and business governance practices of their businesses will be essential in respecting people, being a trusted business partners, innovating responsibly, and protecting our planet. All these aspects will come under increasing scrutiny from customers of security and safety solutions.
However, given the extreme conditions of the past year, we do expect a more acute focus specifically on addressing climate change in 2023. It’s clear that we are not yet doing enough to stop the acceleration of global warming, and every sector will be expected to double its efforts.
For Axis, a key step has been committing to the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) which will see us setting targets for reducing emissions, not only in our own business but through our entire value chain. And this is a key point. While organizations might make great efforts to reduce emissions from their own operations, these can be undermined if their upstream and downstream value chains are not aligned to the same targets.
For technology companies, however, scrutiny of their own business operations will be just one side of the climate change coin. They will also be expected to demonstrate how their products and services support the sustainability goals of their own customers, creating efficiencies that also help those organizations reduce emissions.
An increased regulatory focus
Inevitably, given its pervasiveness and power, the technology sector as a whole and specific technologies are coming under more regulatory and policymaker scrutiny. We still believe that the focus should always be on the regulation of the use cases for the technology, not the technology itself, and will always comply with local, regional, and international regulations. But it can be a complicated picture.
The European Commission is one of the most active in looking to regulate technology in an ongoing effort to protect the privacy and rights of citizens. Its proposed AI Act, part of the Commission’s European AI Strategy, aims to assign specific risk categories to uses of AI and would be the first legal framework on AI. Like the Commission’s AI Liability Directive, the AI Act will no doubt be the subject of much debate before it becomes law.
But whether in relation to AI, demands around cybersecurity, data privacy, curbing the influence of ‘big tech’, or establishing tech sovereignty, it’s clear that technology companies in the security sector will increasingly need to adhere to more stringent regulations. In broad terms, this should be welcomed as ensuring business transparency and ethical practice continue to be critical.
The greatest opportunity for our sector continues to be in aligning continued commercial success with our responsibility to address the critical issues facing the planet and our population. As ever, we’re optimistic that the combination of our human inventiveness, advances in technology, and ethical business practice can be combined to make the world a better place.