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Milestone VP discusses IoT's impact on security

Milestone VP discusses IoT's impact on security
Lars Nordenlund Friis, VP of Incubation and Ventures at Milestone Systems, offers his views on how IoT will evolve and affect the security industry.

With Gartner predicting 25 billion connected devices to be in use by 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) has certainly become a much-talked-about subject, even among security players who find more and more of their devices connected to the Internet. In a recent interview, Lars Nordenlund Friis, VP of Incubation and Ventures at Milestone Systems, offers his views on how IoT will evolve and affect the security industry.

Q: We’ve heard a lot about security and the Internet of Things. Exactly how is security tied to IoT? Why should security players embrace IoT?

A: The security industry should pay attention because it will be an integrated part of the more than 25 billion connected things and will be in use by 2020 according to Gartner market analysts. The Internet of Things has become a powerful force for business transformation and video surveillance cameras are poised to become a dominant sensor in the IoT scenario.

The Internet of Things heralds the next generation of control networks for buildings and cities. The hundreds of millions of devices, such as surveillance cameras, access fobs and perimeter scanners that are already operating on networks will be stitched together, easily and cost effectively.

According to Gartner’s hype curve there is a strong correlation between the development of IoT and a huge rise in Investment deal values over the last five years. The Rate of Innovation in IoT business is by far outpacing other technology areas. Worldwide patenting across all areas of technology has increased by 12 percent recently - this is in stark comparison to an 82 percent increase in the patents related to the Internet of Things.

Low cost sensors and processors on a common platform are going to achieve the tipping point for the global connection of IoT. Security devices will be tied to the IoT as ‘sensors’ in the same way that other devices like phones, cars and refrigerators are sensor sources – all bringing data to inform our lives. It’s the way that ability to connect to one another, to communicate, to report and to make ‘intelligent’ decisions is managed that will prove its effectiveness.

Security players should embrace IoT because it goes beyond security, and the expectations for it will be driven by end users. However, bearing the lessons of the dawn of video analytics in mind, the industry needs to be very careful of over-promising and under-delivering. We must be pragmatic, and at all stages aim to puncture the technology hype balloon.

Q: How do you catch up with the IoT trend, both now and the future?

A: Internet of Things is getting a lot of traction in the IT world these days, and on top of Gartner’s stated hype curve about the high expectations to impact the technology world over the next 5-10 years, huge venture capital investments are pouring into this market. But there is still a distinct gap between IoT’s hyped perceptions and reality. In a recent survey, more than 70 percent of IT professionals believed IoT would impact both consumers and the workplace - yet only one third were actively doing something about it in their business focus or actual budget investments.

Through the Milestone global community we’ve always got our ear to the ground; it’s one of the primary reasons we established our Incubation Business Unit in Silicon Valley, to work in partnership with the individuals and companies making the latest breakthroughs in technology. It’s less about ‘catching up with the trend’ than it is making judgements about what is relevant, useful and implementable. There are a lot of good initiatives out there that may never see the light of day: our job is to focus on the ones that will!

Q: How can we smartly and effectively extract data generated by video and access control devices and use it to our advantage?

A: The key to this is in the way that the Internet of Safety Things is managed. There’s a requirement for a logical organizing entity to decide what to do with the messages received from the connected ‘things’. Unsurprisingly, we see that organizing entity as being similar to the core role of video management software (VMS). We foresee Milestone’s software as working like an IoST Operating System (OS): a significant advance on today’s VMS, but one that still embraces open platform partnership within a dedicated IoST semantic network. That management system would allow complex data to be extracted and presented in a clear and efficient manner, tailored to the needs of users, and optimized through the sensors provided by Milestone technology partners.

To manage that effectively, we have to move data management to the cloud and ride this IT wave of transferring data from on-premise to central computation power as a service. A complete new technology paradigm and business model for the security industry will evolve over time and make IoT scalable.

In this scenario you can use the centralized and virtually endless brain power of cloud computing to make that distributed and decentralized video-integrated solution act like one system in a private or public cloud connecting all types of intelligent sensors in the network.

On top of the cloud of endless data will be analytics to analyze patterns – especially relating to human behavior, process optimization and interactions. This is key to generating the insights needed to optimize business and understand customers.

Q: What are some of the challenges facing security players in the midst of IoT, and how can they be overcome?

A: The video surveillance industry will eventually converge with IoT and cloud technologies which is currently challenged by the network bandwidth, but we predict that over the next few years we will move towards widespread fiber adoption. Today we have 25% fiber coverage in the US – this adoption curve will break mainstream over the next two years with the current investment pace. That will create the tipping point for wider adoption of Video Software as a Service (VSaaS) in our industry.

Another challenge is that at present, the Internet and the majority of IT networks are metadata structures that are characterized by immature management. Basically this means that sophisticated protocols that would allow for automatic connection to a network are not in place. Connections still need to be made, in the same way that we connect devices to the Internet now. And this is not always as easy as many people might think. Often this would need to be through an encrypted wireless channel – which of course requires that each device is approved and allowed on the network. Things change rapidly, so those protocols may be in place quicker than we can imagine.

This will all accelerate because the fastest, most pragmatic advances tend to happen when they assist with business processes, and safety/security is a key business process - beyond security in our case.

Q: In your view, how will IoT evolve, and how will security fit into this?

A: We see the Internet of Things evolving in the way that many technology trends do: at present, we’re at the peak of hype, topping the ‘inflated expectations’ curve. We’re still a few years away from the IoT as a pragmatic, productive reality. In the meantime, we see three phases to the technology evolution which will lead to the Internet of Things with VMS in a key role.

The first is the true embrace of edge recording, which is the phase we’re entering now: edge recording with distributed architecture provides an intelligent, bandwidth-friendly system. This requires high-performance intelligent cameras, and as always, cost will be a factor for the edge system’s widespread take-up.

The second phase centers on video cloud computing and the management of big data, which leads into the third phase where the IoT expands market opportunities for systems integrators and manufacturers. Those who understand IP will be in demand for installing and integrating IoT with video at the core to visualize, manage and verify it all.

We can’t imagine a world where this story could work without an open platform, without a strong partner ecosystem including system integrators. The single common thread with all these technologies is connected components working together as an efficient, integrated whole.

Milestone aims to enable, promote, and be a central part of the connected whole adapting to the new marketplace. We have started with Arcus, XProtect and Husky. We put the camera intelligence, the recording data, and basic camera operations on the edge and we enable a distributed system that can ensure the right level of data in the cloud.

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