Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an emotive subject. Sci-fi novels, films and tv have a real fascination with the subject at the moment – just look at the popularity of shows such as Westworld or Humans, which suggest that AI could become cognisant and turn on its human creators! This makes for great entertainment, but it is also quite misleading in relation to real-world uses of AI.
Security is a perfect application for AI, with the need to accurately process large amounts of data and to make lightning-fast decisions when required, which can sometimes make the difference between life and death!
Enhancing security teams, not replacing them
At the same time, there are fears in some quarters that technology advances could threaten jobs – a fear which dates back to the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution. In fact, the word ‘Sabotage’ comes from the act of skilled workers deliberately damaging machinery using their shoes, or ‘Sabot’ (a sort of French clog) – out of fear the new technology would make them redundant.
Modern workers are perhaps less militant in their action, but fears of being ‘replaced’ by technology is still a factor. However, security technology shouldn’t replace human teams but rather help to enhance them, increasing performance and ensuring the roles of security teams are more straightforward and more productive.
Well-employed AI technology means that human security teams can concentrate on specific needs, rather than having to deal with the more mundane aspects of security monitoring. AI technology can concentrate way beyond the limits of a human operator, but it can also notice more subtle signs from security feeds that there may be an incident taking place or brewing.
Perfectly suited to security
AI is very well disposed to dealing with security monitoring, issuing alerts and managing a situation. It can process data very quickly but equally, and unlike a traditional automated system, it can learn from previous experience and ‘grow’ its knowledge and expertise.
AI technology allows for the collection of a lot more data, but crucially it can find key relationships between events and possible (or probable) outcomes a lot more easily than human operators. AI is perfect at tirelessly doing the routine work and then delivering insights or security alerts to an operator (or an end user).
AI can decide on the best course of action rather than simply following a set of rules, much like a human security professional. It can assess multiple data inputs (all at the same time) and use considered judgement as to whether something could pose a security risk or not. This can save the human team considerable time if a situation doesn’t warrant attention, or can alert them as the first signs of trouble appearing!
Much like security systems themselves, AI can also use security sensors to help with other aspects of facilities management. For example, it can assess footfall and access patterns to a building, helping to optimise which entrances or access control points people use, maximising facility efficiency.
AI can also assess if resources such as heating, air conditioning or lighting are required in various parts of the facility – ensuring users have everything they require, whilst reducing wastage of resources. AI can actually understand these often-complex needs and control systems accordingly.
Benefits for security operators and suppliers
AI solutions offer considerable benefits to the businesses and people using them, but they also benefit the suppliers providing the technology. AI enables the planning and design of far more complex security systems which can automate more processes and provide better and more attractive solutions – which is great for security installers as well as their customers!
A well-targeted AI system is a game-changer for a security project. If it is affordable and offers improved ROI there are tangible benefits for the bottom line of the security operator. As these systems become more commonplace, there is every reason to think they will become even more affordable and accepted as standard practice.
Whilst it’s understandable that some people fear new and intelligent technology, I think there are also issues with the publics misunderstanding of AI - people often don’t really understand its benefits and what it can deliver.
AI that goes off and does its own thing unchecked (think of the Terminator movies!) would be a terrifying prospect, but in reality, this technology rarely has that kind of influence and is surrounded by many failsafe options.
Because of these preconceptions, people are sometimes frightened by AI – and they shouldn’t be frightened! Security operators need to embrace this technology and use it properly to enable them to make better decisions and to deliver better solutions that enhance security for everyone.