Analysis: the Shift of the Security Industry to Real-Time Action

16 May 2018

In some ways, the more traditional model of site security has become a victim of its own success. In a more ‘straightforward’ environment, security operators sit at computer consoles and actively monitor the feeds from cameras placed in strategic locations across a site like a shopping mall or a concert venue.

The problem is that sites like these aren't exactly getting smaller — if anything, they're only getting far larger as time goes on. Metlife Stadium, for example, the home of both the New York Giants and the New York Jets, seats 82,570 people at maximum capacity.

Now, think about the fact that all it takes is one single event to put all 82,570 of those people at risk. It could be a mass shooting, a terrorist attack, or even some uncontrolled environmental hazard — it doesn't matter. With a reactive security model, that event is going to happen, and there is no stopping it. This type of event wouldn't just be dangerous. It would be catastrophic.

Even a very large and adequate team of security operators would likely still be faced with so many cameras to look at. It is unlikely that , even on the best of days, they would notice an incident taking place in one of the feeds as it was happening. Being able to recognise when the conditions are right for a dangerous incident to take place would essentially become impossible.

This alone is reason enough to believe that a proactive approach to security is no longer a recommendation — it has officially become a requirement.


The Limitations of the Traditional Model

A traditional security camera setup at an environment this large would usually be valuable only for post-incident review. While this is still essential in terms of recognising weak points in security protocol to prevent incidents from happening again, it does little to actually help stop an incident before it happens in the first place.

Metlife Stadium is hardly the only example of this type of problem. The Mall of America in Minnesota is visited by more than 42 million people each year, or roughly eight times the number of people who actually live in Minnesota to begin with. The University of Central Florida has an undergraduate enrollment alone of 55,783 students.

It has become clear very quickly that something has to give — a reactive approach to protecting sites like these is no longer enough to meet the challenges of the modern era.

A more proactive approach built on the back of state-of-the-art technology, however, is.


The Proactive Tools for the Modern Era

One example of how organisations are shifting towards a more proactive approach to security has to do with modern-day camera technology. In a relatively short period, AI-assisted video monitoring solutions have come along to revolutionise incident-response security and preventative security at sites like large shopping malls, transportation hubs, university campuses and others. By being able to deploy it both in real-time and at scale, suddenly the size and complexity of an environment is no longer a liability. A security organisation's risk profile is lowered and their response capability is dramatically increased — all at the exact same time.

Majid Al Futtaim, a company that manages 21 shopping malls in five countries with over 178 million visitors annually, is just one example of an organisation that is already using proactive security to great effect. They have installed AI-assisted video monitoring across a complex network of 10,000+ cameras enhancing their proactive approach to site security, safety and operations

Another option would be to use devices like those connected to the Internet of Things to create superior visibility into an environment than ever before. A site like a hotel, for example, could install sensors on every window that could immediately alert security personnel if a window has been broken. According to Russell Kolins, chair of the ASIS International Hospitality, Entertainment and Tourism Security Council, this would have been hugely beneficial when dealing with an event like the Las Vegas mass shooting in particular.

Had security personnel been notified the moment the gunman had broken his window, they could have identified that some type of security incident was about to go down — gaining precious minutes in the process that would allow them to react. This type of technology already exists; it's simply up to site management to apply it.

Another great way to take a proactive approach to security involves conducting regular site security audits and vulnerability assessments. It's something the government has been doing with great success in recent years, after the "Hack the Army" and "Hack the Air Force" programs launched by the Department of Defense in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Not only did this allow them to proactively identify areas that are cause for concern or that could make a bad situation far worse in the event of a security incident, the Department of Defense also saved a huge amount of money by crowdsourcing these efforts. There is absolutely no reason why football stadiums, concert venues, college campuses, and similar environments couldn't use the same techniques.


A Bold New Surveillance Future Has Arrived

In the end, perhaps the most important thing to understand about the surveillance industry is that a reactive approach to security incidents isn't just outdated — it is downright inadequate to meet the challenges of the modern era. Today’s modern business environment is growing far too big and far too complex for a more traditional surveillance model.

With advanced, sophisticated, and totally holistic options like AI-assisted video monitoring, we're finally in a place where we can leave the repetitive tasks to computers while security professionals — trained, passionate, and hardworking men and women — are free to focus on what they're best at. They're able to devote more attention to actually problem solving, talking to people, and planning out the security strategy that unique environments demand. They can devote their attention to creating a more successful security model where we harness the power of modern technology to execute more comprehensive security plans than ever before.

At that point, the safety of everyone within an environment is no longer an afterthought. It is not only taken seriously, but it is planned out in advance and accounted for, regardless of the events that may (or may not) unfold.