AI, or artificial intelligence, conjures up images of a self-aware and computer-controlled entity gone wild such as the products of Cyberdyne Systems in Terminator, or the robots in Steven Spielberg’s AI film starring Will Smith.
Some people are apprehensive. Some are curious.
But what really is AI? And how does it apply to physical security?
AI is defined as the “simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. These processes include learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions) and self-correction.” Think of artificial intelligence as a synthetic nervous system. This software-based logic allows physical components to operate more intelligently, just like the biological brain and nerves work in the human body.
AI – Seeing Security as Proactive Not Reactive
So how does this apply to physical security? Typical security for a building or campus involves a guard patrolling the grounds or a security team monitoring events for breaches. This antiquated approach is reactive, forensic and limited.
Thanks to increasingly complex operations, threats are able to hide in the chaos of daily life. With the emergence of multi-sensor systems, all speaking different languages, reliance on any human’s interpretation of events to identify risk doesn’t cut it. That’s because humans have limitations; our attention spans typically deteriorate in less than 10 minutes, we need rest and sustenance, and can be easily distracted.
With the introduction of AI in a security infrastructure, organizations are now able to achieve a real-time assessment of threats, as they are developing, to catch and prevent trouble – before it strikes.
When AI is integrated into your security operation, it’s possible to aggregate all the available information from security systems, cameras and other sensors around a facility, and distill the data into actionable guidance for the security teams. The guidance is based on corporate policy, regulatory compliance and real-time risk scores. A security platform leveraging AI can automatically adjust commands and controls based on anomalous activity or risk level – as events occur.
AI – Making More Sense of Security Via Neural Networks
The information a human takes in is limited to our five senses. For AI, everything is a data input. This means every sensor and source of data in your environment is data that can be streamed and synthesized – in seconds – to create actionable intelligence. And with security infrastructures expanding to include mobile, cloud, IoT, and even social media, a human just can’t make sense of it all. But with an AI system, your security operation can.
An AI system can filter out all the extraneous information and white noise, in order to concentrate on what matters most. Think of it as noise-canceling software for your security operation.
Furthermore, humans have a blind spot: the unknown unknown. If we are not taught what to look for, it is easy for to miss things. We can only focus on one thing at a time.
Not the case with AI
Artificial intelligence not only evaluates the obvious events, such as breaches, but is able to recognize anomalies among all your security systems. For example, insider threats are difficult to detect, since valid credentials are granted entry by the access control. Typical systems cannot detect abnormal activity, as technically, it is not an official breach. AI-powered access control systems look at what normal activity is per door, per credential, per hour – or however you want to measure – so you can quickly be alerted of abnormalities and potential insider threats.
Artificial intelligence can also improve the safety, by adjusting access permissions based on the risk environment. Now credentials only work if they do not increase danger to the employee, or increase risk to an operation.
The key is being able to identify anomalous behavior or activity to see where there are potential threats.
AI – It’s A Tool Not a Terminator
Unlike the fictional threat of AI taking over, as in Terminator, an AI-based security system assists humans, rather than replaces. AI evaluates and calculates threat assessments rapidly, so your security team has the intelligence they need to act quickly and proactively.
The human mind as sophisticated as it is, cannot make such rapid calculations. Humans are fallible and come with biases. We are also subject to distractions and variables such as fear, fatigue, apathy and much more. An AI-based security system is agnostic and objective. It is taking in information, rapidly makes an assessment and communicating the right information to the proper personnel without failure. Not to mention, it’s always on and ready to act 24/7/365.
AI – The Advantages Add Up – Proactive, Comprehensive and Cost Efficient
A security system with AI can dramatically improve how you protect your environment. The biggest advantage it delivers is proactive protection. Unlike your current system, it isn’t reactive; it takes in information from all the datapoints and proactively alerts you to a potential situation in real-time. So, it can avert a risky situation from escalating to the point of creating loss or damage.
The AI-assisted security system sees what your team may miss – especially when it comes to costly internal and advanced threats. Your security team might think a user is authorized to access an area, but under certain circumstances or a series of anomalous events, an AI security system identifies when the employee could potentially up to no good. It leverages all the data from across the environment to “see and hear” everything, from everywhere, any time. There are no gaps, no missed opportunities. Its ability to rapidly aggregate data (including reporting and behavioral models) and to provide actionable intelligence gives your security team the edge it needs to be alerted when seconds count most. While your security team can’t be expected to know everything that’s going on, an AI security system does; meaning human limitations are no longer constraints to your security operation.
Of course, you’re wondering about cost. Isn’t having an AI security system expensive? Will I have to discard my existing infrastructure? When you consider the system as an integration platform, AI can be used to optimize existing technology, meaning it’s easy to upgrade without additional hardware. Not to mention, the more data you have, the more invaluable it become. Beyond that, there’s the incalculable cost-savings of protecting your employees and other people that interact with your environment. The ROI is obvious, especially when considering the cost of breaches, corporate espionage, damage or loss due to theft or vandalism – not to mention the PR nightmares that can follow.
AI – Its Place in Your Place
So where does AI fit into your existing framework? Wherever you would like to start. It’s a platform that integrates your existing technology, devices and data feeds. By adding an AI platform to your current security infrastructure, you’re adding a brain to your security’s body; you’re adding a faster thinking, better decision-making system.
AI doesn’t replace your existing systems or security team. This leverages them to make the whole system faster, more efficient, and more effective. This means you can use AI to modernize your security operation and give your team the tools to make better decisions, faster.