Are you ready to embrace IoT?

Posted On 15 Feb 2018
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When it comes to IoT is the electronic security industry ready, willing and able? Asks Duncan Cooke, Business Development Manager, UK & Europe for Stratus Technologies

IT research and advisory company Gartner estimates that as many as 5.6 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices owned by enterprises and governments will utilise edge computing for data collection and processing in 2020, whilst by 2019, as much as 40% of all IoT collected data is expected to be stored, processed, analysed and acted upon close to or at the edge of the network.

It is perhaps still early days in terms of the electronic security industry fully embracing the undoubted benefits of IoT, but what can we learn from other sectors?

Within the food, pharmaceuticals and utilities sectors, IoT, is considered by many to be a seismic technology shift. However, it is recognised that success lies with an infrastructure which can be trusted. The priority has therefore been to lock down the reliability and security of the network which is connecting all IoT enabled devices. Having achieved this, operational management can concentrate on identifying those IoT investments which will return powerful benefits to their business. In manufacturing and energy, the primary benefits will be efficiency and productivity gains. Financial services can expect improved performance, data integrity and business agility.

One of the hallmarks of IoT is the gathering of data from a wide range of sensors and systems to gain valuable insights. This distributed intelligence is central to improving production efficiency, enabling predictive maintenance, and sparking innovation. Many industries have already seen this. Oil and gas companies, for example, use data collected from sensors at remote pipeline compression stations to run analytics that detect early signs of component failure. With advance warning, these companies will be able to shrink maintenance windows and avoid costly unplanned downtime.

Security systems

So what will IoT do for the electronic industry?  There is no doubt that it will set innovators free to use their imaginations in order to come up with creative solutions that combine the expertise, knowledge and intuition of ‘man’ with the processing power of ‘machine’.

In simple terms, IoT enabled cameras equipped with or supported by analytics, artificial intelligence or deep learning applications will enable users to achieve benefits from their video surveillance systems which would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Cameras linked with a myriad of sensors connected to other types of security systems, for example, intruder detection, access control, building management, fire, etc, will result in an automated reporting process which provides security personnel with all the information they need to make instantaneous, correct and effective decisions as to the most appropriate course of action when an incident or emergency occurs.

With compliance being a major issue for many organisations, IoT also holds much promise in terms of the collection and synchronisation of data from many different sources in order to verify in real time that rules and regulations are being adhered to and to generate alerts when they are not.

Much of the data feeding into a central decision point is likely to be stored at the edge, perhaps on devices such as cameras, but more than likely, on locally based servers.  In addition to infrastructure security, another important element in ensuring the successful implementation of an IoT strategy will therefore be the need to ensure the fountains of data collected at the edge are protected. No server manufacturer, no matter how reliable their servers have proved to be, is likely to guarantee zero downtime.  To mitigate the risk of losing valuable data, it will be essential for an end-to-end fault tolerance solution to be in place.