During my conversation with Tim Baker, Director of Marketing and Product Management of Commercial Security Products at Honeywell, I realised very quickly that yes, I did want the person designing today’s security systems to have a real passion for making buildings and people safer.
Physical security is top of mind for us all, not just from media hype but at a basic level of feeling good about going out in the real world every day. On top of that, digital transformation is turning the security field completely on end.
In 2018 Honeywell brought an all new team on the job to re-imagine security for organisations from small to medium-sized franchise businesses, to schools, to compliance-heavy commercial and (should this be mission critical facilities? critical facilities. Truly an amazing opportunity to start fresh, no legacy burden and the best possible partnerships.
Tim brings the perfect background to the job, coming from an integrated engineering and industrial design background, he has that genius for identifying customer problems and coming up with solutions for them.
Security & Digital Transformation Enterprise
Honeywell has a fantastic opportunity in front of them. Digitalisation offers the ability to merge the three domains of security into one integration system, e.g. intruder detection, access control and video surveillance – into one integrated system.
By integrating the security feeds, system designers aim to go from reactive (monitoring and detecting intruders) to predictive and preventive. It’s the perfect big data application.
Take the stereotypical global security office (G-soc) with a wall of 30 video monitors. How much better to develop a layered interface that brings the right information to the front of just two or three monitors while pushing the right information to critical team members, and collecting new information from incident responders? And for heavily regulated industries such as pharma, healthcare, banking, airports, oil & gas, and energy, a customisable system can help drive compliance on a global scale.
There are complications though. The industries in the most need of better security systems also require 100% uptime. Security systems in those environments must provide complete redundancy, from network to power supply, because failures are not tolerated – and neither are false alarms.
Another complication is the variance between sites. While Fortune 500 companies may own hundreds of buildings, they usually haven’t built those themselves and they’re probably operating disparate systems. That means, says Tim, “We have to be able to compute at the edge for isolated buildings, and in other cases to compute in the cloud and in localised servers as well.” Building an infrastructure that can customise and scale across all of those requirements is daunting.
In fact, the initiative might not have worked at all were Honeywell not so committed to open-platform design and partnerships. “Honeywell is not trying to be an expert in all aspects – you’d wind up being an expert in nothing.” Tim says, and calls out things like gunshot detections and behavioural analytics. This type of expertise already exists and can be added in. Honeywell focuses on the core integrated software and hardware and integrates the specialty peripheral elements and data via the open platform.
One of the most intriguing partnerships Honeywell security has is with Intel. As Tim puts it, “We were looking for a hardware partner for things like servers, and it evolved into a really interesting relationship. They’ve introduced us to a lot of capabilities, such as driving our video analytics through hardware acceleration. It really opened our eyes and allowed us to apply that technology to a broader range of use cases.
Now we’re looking at AI and machine learning and servers with purpose-built processors. And, Intel is helping us connect the dots with other ecosystem partners since they are talking to so many other companies in the space. They are bringing us together to solve customer problems.”
From what Tim describes, it sounds like the combined capabilities are creating better products. For example, a loitering detection solution was generating too many false alarms from animals or wind. Working in collaboration, the partners were able to apply machine learning to the detection algorithms and teach them to recognise real vs. false alarms. They’ve since dropped the false positive rate to single digits.
It’s like a co-create concept where once the team has outlined what they’re trying to build, they can leverage Intel’s capability as much as possible to create a repeatable design and build processes and without having to build everything themselves.
Tim points out that Intel is also contributing software tool kits like Intel Distribution of OpenVINO to help partners leverage Intel hardware. “Having standard deep learning frameworks like TensorFlow allow us to leverage their processors in such a way that we can efficiently manage the compute for compute-intensive algorithms.”
So is edge the next big challenge for video security? Raw 4k video is high volume, high speed and high value. With the explosion of 5GT connectivity, we are going to be talking about petabytes of data and you can’t copy that across the network. I thought, what a great opportunity for Honeywell to put their capabilities on the edge of the network where the data is and glean those insights as they’re happening as opposed to trying to hold that data somewhere else to run it centrally.
Tim agrees – “You want to be able to do as much with that video data at the edge as possible. In an access control application, you don’t need to hold on to the footage of the person walking up to the door, you just need to use the video at the edge to identify the person via biometric means.” And, he points out, with all of the differences in data privacy regulations, you may not have the rights to store video at all.
Intel’s capabilities are allowing Honeywell to look at applications that are really camera intensive, such as smart cities. I asked Tim for some predictions about what security would look like in the near future, and you can hear his answer at the very opening of the podcast. Stay and listen to the rest of our conversation; there’s a lot going on in the security space and the partnership between Honeywell and Intel is fascinating.
My sincere thanks to Tim and the rest of the team at Honeywell and Intel for making this podcast possible. For more information about the topics he and I discuss, follow the reference links below.