Anyone who walked into IFSEC International unconvinced that artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the security industry, certainly left the show disabused of that notion. The excitement about AI could be felt from every corner of the expo floor and was a central topic of discussion in the interactive Keynote Theater amongst presenters, panelists and participants.
While the concept of physical security seems incongruous with digital technologies and data intelligence, security solutions have been improved significantly because of advances in artificial intelligence capabilities. From smart sensors to intelligent video content analytics software, AI is driving investigation efficiency, real-time response, deeper situational awareness and enhanced trend recognition, changing the face of physical security as we know it today.
When asked about the future of AI in his presentation about “Overcoming the Disruptive Effects of Crime” with AI-driven solutions, Warren Stein, BriefCam VP Sales EMEA & Asia, noted that, with the current rate of adoption and development of AI, it is impossible to fully predict how the industry will evolve: “I have a five-year-old daughter, and when I see – for example – the rate at which autonomous driving technology is developing, I realize that I can’t take for granted that she’ll ever have to learn how to drive a car. By the time she comes of age, human driving could be completely obsolete.” While this statement might have seemed absurd even a few years ago, the rapid development of AI has rendered this question entirely legitimate.
The same principle holds true when it comes to criminal investigations: The last few years have seen significant advances to law enforcement’s approaches to solving crimes and reducing the crime rate. In his keynote session, Stein presented the example of a police drug bust investigation. Whereas, in the past, a police department would have to physically deploy an undercover officer to an area of interest for reconnaissance purposes, today, law enforcement can install video surveillance cameras or leverage existing footage and run video investigation software to pinpoint where drugs are being sold. Demonstrating how the police used video content analysis, Stein explained that by filtering out extraneous objects in video – such as vehicular traffic – and leveraging advanced visualization capabilities, the police were able to immediately understand the most common pedestrian paths in the area of interest over the course of twelve hours. By evaluating traffic patterns, they could pinpoint the house where drugs were being sold within minutes.
Through this and additional examples, Stein argued that by investing in artificial intelligence-driven solutions, police, cities and even private businesses can more proactively prevent crime, thus reducing its economic impacts and long-term effects on society.
While some of the educational sessions and showcased solutions demonstrated the positive impact of artificial intelligence and data-driven physical security technologies, the speakers and exhibitors at IFSEC did not shy away from discussing its challenges and shortcomings. From cybercrime to information to warfare to privacy concerns, the issues confronting AI-backed approaches, organizations that rely on AI-backed solutions and the innovators creating them were acknowledged by the panelists and participants at IFSEC.
The consensus demonstrated at the event was – as these technologies continue to advance and adoption rises – that regulations and best practices surrounding their responsible and appropriate use will also be developed and implemented. For instance, with countless face recognition vendors exhibiting, understanding how facial recognition and biometric solutions can accommodate privacy considerations was a major topic of discussion in the mainstage panels and on the show floor. Although regulation is still largely undefined, technology providers and users both support controls on the technology to ensure its responsible use.
However, this was not the only concern that needed assuaging at IFSEC: Many asked about the future of AI-driven predictive analytics, enabled by the advances in AI technology. With predictive analytics par excellence, could a human operator be entirely removed from the physical security equation?
As Warren Stein explained, even with the most cutting-edge artificial intelligence, human intervention will always be necessary in some capacity to confirm the accuracy of the machine learning interpretation and prevent biases. Machine learning and predictive analysis technology will improve; even so, many behaviors cannot conclusively indicate immediate danger: For instance, excitedly greeting a relative at the airport could be misconstrued by a machine as an act of aggression. Without the human intervention and context interpretation, the most sophisticated artificial intelligence solutions could fall short.
Despite these limitations, artificial intelligence has become an integral part of public safety enablement. IFSEC International 2019 has demonstrated that the future of physical security is decidedly digital in many respects.
More on video analytics for law enforcement.