The Future of Security TPSO visits Genetec HQ, Montreal, Canada

It’s very rare that the TPSO team is allowed out of TPSO towers to go on a ‘field trip’. Knowing this, when an email from a big security tech company lands in my inbox and invites me to a three day press summit in Canada, I figured it was spam and directed it to the junk file.

      A week later, when this company’s PR people sent me an email asking if I was sure I that I was really too busy to attend the all expenses paid trip to Montreal, I was forced to trawl through my deleted emails, only to find that this was an actual thing!

Knowing how busy we were at the time, I accidentality forgot to tell my hard working colleague that I was off, set my email auto reply to, “see ya on Thursday”, and legged it to the airport.

Now, if you haven’t heard of Genetec, you will soon. They sprung to my attention earlier this year when they became the worlds largest supplier of VMS (Video management systems)… So they do CCTV stuff? Clearly I had some reading to do on the plane.

I grabbed a pile of Genetec literature to read up on, and made my way to Gatwick.

We already know that Genetec is now the biggest player in the CCTV software arena. Their dedicated Video Management System is called Omnicast. What makes this so desirable is the flexibility and seamless integration with a long list of popular hardware. You’re not tied in to only using equipment from a very small collection of manufacturers. Omnicast is also pretty much future proof, with unheard of levels of expandability and more importantly, integration. I’ll talk more about this integration later as it’s quite an eye opener.

They don’t just do VMS software however.

I won’t go in to a pile of detail as I’m not on their payroll, regardless of how impressed I became, but they have ALPR (ANPR systems, for the British readers) software called AutoVu, a flexible access control system called ‘Synergis’, a clever evidence collation system for law enforcement called ‘Clearance’, and an amazing system that integrates a collection of inputs to provide City wide incident analysis and response coordination, called Citigraf.

The ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Genetec’s systems is the astounding Security Centre software. In a nutshell, this integrates your CCTV, access control, ANPR controlled access systems, intrusion detection and security communications, in an intuitive, graphically rich environment, giving your control room team an instant clear and comprehensive overview of you site, multi building or international estate’s, security status. I won’t go over exactly what this can do. I’ve only been allowed 5 pages for the feature.

OK. By the time I landed I was well aware that this was not your average “run of the mill” tech firm.

On the morning of the first working day of the summit, we were bussed out to Genetec HQ on the outskirts of Montreal, for a full day of discussion and presentations from some of the innovators in the industry. I’d like to thank them right now for opening my eyes to technological developments that sounded straight out of the film “Minority Report”: Alain Bissada, Andrew Elvish, Beverly Wilks, Jean-Pierre Picard, Laurent Villeneuve, Sean Lawlor (Who looked after us admirably during our stay), Stephan Kaiser and Veronique Froment.

Highlight of the day however had to be the arrival and presentation by the CEO and founder, Pierre Racz.

Now I have encountered a few bona fide genius level entrepreneurs in my time, and like the very best, Pierre has an ‘Aura’ about him that is almost unnerving at first. He listens with an intensity that is almost palpable, finds it hard to keep still, with his hands moving rapidly reflecting the internal thought processing, and his eyes seem to take in every detail about his surroundings and those he meets. He isn’t your crazy scientist type though. He is engaging and has a joke for every occasion. It is absolutely no surprise that he was named by IFSEC Global as the world #1 influencer in “Security tech design, development & integration” this year.

So, this is all very nice but what has all this got to do with the future of security?

OK. Brace yourselves. I won’t talk about the advances in machine learning and system integration that makes the following possible… Oh, and it is very much machine learning and NOT A.I.!

As Pierre clearly stated: “We don’t have genuine artificial intelligence yet. But we do have genuine human stupidity!” Strangely, nobody in the room questioned him on this…..

With current tech, and systems currently in development at Genetec, this is what I mean by the “Future of Security”:

Remember: This can be achieved with the Will of the People and Government, pretty much tomorrow….. Rights and wrongs? That is for a far bigger discussion that this. This is simply an example of what CAN be achieved, not what should be.

I’ll give a scenario involving Police and State use of this tech, but you can see the immense leap forward this represents within the private security sector.

For Example:

  • Police receive a report of a burglary at a residential house in the suburbs.
  • The local resident’s front doorbell cameras and CCTV, are linked in to the central system, and footage, securely stored and encrypted, from several of those cameras, has identified a vehicle leaving the area at the time, and a vague image of a possible suspect has been captured.
  • Police taking the initial call about the crime, have inputted the method of operation of the suspect, into the network, and this has been submitted to the central Police Computer System.
  • All of this information has been processed by the system and a number of suspects have been identified, using the same M.O. and working in the local area.
  • 6 of those suspects have a car matching the description of the one seen on camera leaving the area. 3 have a similar height, build and ethnic background, but no further refinement of the suspect can be made at this time.
  • Information for all 3 suspect vehicles has been automatically flagged for tracing by all ANPR cameras, and any connected CCTV cameras, able to isolate and identify number plates.
  • Data from the system has indicated that one of the vehicles passed several ANPR cameras, and was returning to the area from a coastal resort. Computer analysis of the ANPR footage indicates a family was in the vehicle, so this car is eliminated from the search.
  • Another vehicle was recorded by CCTV 200 miles away from the scene of the crime when it took place, eliminating a second car from the investigation.
  • The remaining vehicle has been traced on ANPR and CCTV entering the City.
  • Vehicle has been seen by CCTV, parking near a pawn brokers.
  • Automatic Police system check, has found that one of the registered employees at this premises has prior convictions for theft, assault and handling stolen goods.
  • Facial recognition on 4 local networked CCTV cameras, has positively identified the suspect as Fred Bloggs, convicted burglar, and he is seen leaving the suspect vehicle and entering the pawnbrokers.
  • The System dispatches the 2 closest Police units to attend and arrest Mr Bloggs, sending the units all relevant information regarding his previous criminal history and photographs of the suspect.
  • Bloggs is arrested on suspicion of burglary 11 minutes later, whilst leaving the pawn brokers. Another Police unit attends the pawn brokers 8 minutes later, recovers a quantity of stolen property and arrests a further suspect for Handling Stolen Goods.

                Now. We know how awkward and time consuming gathering and collating of evidence can be…

                But not tomorrow:

  • All data about this crime has been automatically centrally filed and encrypted.
  • All relevant Police BWV (Body Worn Video) footage has been added to the case file along with all relevant CCTV and ANPR footage.
  • Evidence can be added to the file by SOCOs, or other investigating officers at any time, and can only be accessed by those authorised to do so. CPS for instance.
  • Any addition, amendment or removal of evidential data is recorded fully.
  • Custody details and any witness and suspect statements can be added, to create a comprehensive case file for CPS use.

With a huge amount of the routine investigation and evidence gathering removed from human responsibility, and Police resources being used only when certainty of guilt and subsequent conviction is extremely likely, the time and manpower involved in dealing with such a crime can be reduced drastically, meaning that an under-staffed Police Service can start to enforce laws and investigate crime that simply was not previously possible with the resources available….

Ring any bells?