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  • Jon Polly

Actionable Data or just NOISE

Safety is critical to us. It’s built into the fiber of our being. In the US, its written into our Declaration of Independence; "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". We cannot achieve happiness without first achieving safety. Our security and our safety are bound to each. First responders, either Public (Police, Fire, and Medic) or Private (Private or Company Security) rely on actionable intelligence to provide that safety. A phone call to 911 is actionable intelligence. A false alarm is just NOISE. Police officers can respond to a “call for service”. The same motion detector going into alarm every hour, it’s the “Boy Who Cried Wolf”.

We cannot achieve happiness without first achieving safety.

The same goes for security equipment. Security equipment is typically a reactionary tool. A Camera is great. They can have a high megapixel image, frames per second so fast a person cannot see, recording for days, but it is still a reactionary tool; until it isn’t. For the last few years you have heard terms in the security industry like “Analytics”, “Deep Learning”, “Neural Networks”, and “A.I.” These are all ways to make security more proactive. True, the next Industrial Revolution will be a culmination of these concepts and many others. It’s the current way to make reactionary things smarter. Our Security is getting smarter. It is giving us more data. But is it actionable data or is it just NOISE? 

COVID-19 has prompted a number of “innovations” in security technology. Some of these have been repurposed solutions, while others are specifically built as a response for this pandemic. 

A cost effective rapidly deployable cloud based camera system that can provided real-time alerts to businesses that have either no security or security that is unable to viewed remote can offer actionable data. 

With COVID-19 we have seen a rush on Thermal Cameras to detect fevers. We have seen mustering analytics for cameras to detect when there is a crowd of more than “x” number of people. We have seen companies talk about their AI models and how their shiny widget can solve the next COVID-19 disaster. This is not to judge and maybe it can. The concern noted here; is this actionable data or just NOISE?  

For the Thermal Camera, with a lead time of 12 weeks to full installation a FDA approved camera is installed, and it picks up someone with a fever; great. The camera alerts, and now someone has to go locate the person and remove them. Who? Are they even still there? That’s just going to cause NOISE and offer limited response capabilities. The reality is that in 12 weeks it’s going to be summer and that thermal camera may not pick up the fever because depending on where it is deployed, the ambient temperature will mimic COVID-19 fever.

Lately it seems like everyone has a camera analytic (whether it is their own or it is someone else’s white labeled solution). Camera Analytics are great. They make cameras smarter and give us more data than we had before. But there is a caution here. Is it actionable data, trackable data, and useful data; or is it just NOISE? A camera analytic used to tell if groups of “x” people are congregated together give us data, but again, who is responding to break up the group. If no one is going to respond, then it is just NOISE. 

In the near future, most security systems (Cameras, Access Control, etc.) will incorporate Deep Learning Neural Networks that incorporate some sort of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), or suggested as Augmented Intelligence. These learning models need to be remembered as just that. They are models that teach the systems. We have already seen cameras pick up on anomalies that the average person didn’t see. But an anomaly is only an anomaly if it is taught it is an anomaly or until the anomaly goes away. An example relevant to today is that a crowd is an anomaly, until Disney World opens and then a crowd is the normality. Augmented Reality is like a 3 year old child. You have to teach it for it to grow up correctly and offer actionable data.  Lack of teaching it causes it to be an unruly child that just makes NOISE. 

You have to teach (A.I.) it for it to grow up correctly and offer actionable data.

Analytics, Deep Learning Neural Networks, and A.I. (Artificial or Augmented Intelligence) are all part of the next Industrial Revolution. It’s here to stay and grow even stronger. This is a good thing, but the data provided has to be something that can be used. If it just NOISE, it takes away first responder resources dedicated to our safety and ultimately the pursuit of Happiness. Our industry may provide the tools, but it is up to the end-user to create a process specific to their company and individual location(s) to ensure they have actionable data and not responding to just NOISE.

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