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2023 ISC West Recap: Trends and Technology

By Northland Controls, Apr 18, 2023

Ask anyone why they attend ISC West year over year...

And you’ll get answers ranging from exploring new technology, like the SIA New Product Showcase Winners, to taking advantage of the expansive networking, to just getting to catch up with customers and colleagues alike.

But this year had a special buzz about it with added features like “The Career Zone” and a headcount of over 27,000 attendees, a nod to pre-pandemic levels. “Having attended for the better part of the last decade, this was one of the largest events I can remember,” says Brendan McFall, Operations Manager at Northland Controls.

And with COVID in the rear-view mirror, security teams are “taking advantage of the opportunity to review legacy security equipment, bring devices and software up to date, and reconsider deployment of devices consistent with the deployment of personnel and business operations,” noted Charles Baxter, Security Consultant at Northland Controls.

We surveyed our sleuth of bears to get their thoughts and takeaways from this year’s event. Here are the top trends and technologies that stood out:

1. AI, AI, AI
It’s no surprise that artificial intelligence took center stage at this year’s ISC West for end-users, manufacturers, and integrators alike. With the rise of ChatGPT and the work it has done to re-imagine use-cases for AI, many conversations were centered around ways that AI can be leveraged for a more secure workplace. “Until quite recently, AI has been fairly dumb,” says Zach Henderson, Director of Managed Services. “In other words, it needed to be taught what to look for by a human operator.” But with the recent developments within the space, new doors have been opened.

Using AI to better leverage data in security systems, for example, was a topic explored by McFall and others in their session titled, “From Data Dump to Gold Mine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Generate Actionable Insight from Access Control Data.” Other use cases that stood out at this year’s conference included the use of natural language, like we saw in Camio, and the possibility of leveraging AI to write policies and procedures for security teams.

However, Pierre Trapanese, CEO of Northland Controls warns, “Artificial Intelligence is a top trend, but not all solutions designated as AI are actually AI.” He continues to say that while our customer base is sophisticated enough to sift through marketing jargon, it’s an important reminder to think critically about what is being called AI, its ability to be deployed in the real world, and what support is required to derive real value from its intelligence. “Garbage in, garbage out still applies, even when your platform is intelligent.”

2. Evolution of Mobile Credentials
At this year’s show, there was a definite focus on companies looking to implement mobile credentials into their security lineup. Over the past few years, increased attention has been paid to the implementation of mobile credentials for end users. However, the technology driving that innovation was still being refined. Key questions this year centered around how these modern credentials are encrypted/decrypted, what information is stored on the credential itself, what card creators support which format, and the ability to leverage things like Apple Wallet to store them.

Danny Chung, Global Director of Design and Consulting noted that, “Mobile credentials are not just about Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology anymore. Instead, we saw a shift to near field communication (NFC) and the ability to use mobile wallet capabilities to store and use your credentials.”

3. Leveling the Playing Field
Forward thinking initiatives that have led the charge for cloud-based technology and enhanced user experience have created a split among some manufacturers over the past decade. But at this year’s show, there was a clear trend of leveling the playing field. Trapanese noted, “Some manufacturers developing native cloud-based solutions may have realized that they are behind the curve when it comes to putting legacy systems in the cloud. But, with this shift, it should increase the availability of more and more robust and broad solutions to us and our client base.”

Similarly, Chung notes that many manufacturers debuted a new and improved look and feel of their access control platforms this year with a focus on the user experience, inevitably playing catch up to those ahead of the curve.

4. Single Pane of Glass Security
In today’s world, people want solutions that can bring multiple streams of information into a single pane of glass for simplicity and enhanced responsiveness. And this year’s show alluded to the fact that many manufacturers are listening. “It seems like a lot of companies are trying to provide a single, integrated solution that includes VMS, PACS, SOC, dashboards, reports and more,” says Max Hermann, Development Manager with Northland Labs.

“From Tyco’s IQ to Motorola’s Alta and S2’s Magic Monitor, end-to-end security as a service is buzzing for sure,” says Henderson. As we move to a more user-friendly experience, a single pane of glass and a continued focus on interoperability will provide end users with more resiliency, better data, and an overall enhanced experience.

“With the development of this type of technology,” says Charles Baxter, Security Consultant, “it’s possible, now more than ever, to enhance features of cameras, access controls, alarms, etc. in a consolidated enterprise solution for a more easily manageable experience.”

While other trends, including the push for recurring revenue models, were present, Trapanese concluded his lookback at this year’s conference by saying, “The resources it takes to develop something new is not as great as it used to be, especially given all the development tools now available and the ability to ‘rent’ infrastructure. And with that said, that means there could be a significant wave of new solutions and even more tools in the future.”

We look forward to seeing what the future has in store at future ISC Wests!