Robots, the Cloud, and Perimeter Hardening – Reflections on GSX 2022
By: Jon Polly | Oct 06, 2022
ASIS International hosts the Global Security Exchange (GSX) event in September every year, minus a slight hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year the show was hosted in Atlanta, GA with, according to ASIS team members, the largest show floor in their history. GSX offered continuing education credits for ASIS certification holders, additional training, and a vendor showcase. Gatherings were held by manufacturers and influencers in the days leading up to GSX and throughout the show.
In the past, the GSX show has paled in comparison to ISC West, but the show in Atlanta exceeded expectations. The show floor was busy and most manufacturers stated that the majority of traffic was guard companies, security integrators, and security consultants. While there was some end-user traffic, there were fewer end-users than in years past.
There were some of the same similarities that the security industry has come to expect; old tech with a new cover. Innovation has been the crux for the security industry. Maybe this has occurred because the end-user has typically been a retired law enforcement officer or retired military officer; or maybe this is because security integrators have been doing the same type of installations for many years. Whatever the reason, the security industry is changing. More Security Directors are now moving under the roles of Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) or Chief Information Officers (CIO) and having to change how they do business. This year, GSX proved that the industry is beginning to take notice.
GSX from a high level had three primary technologies to take note of. Almost every technology offered, from old to innovative, offered some level of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Spot the Drone Dog made multiple appearances from different manufacturers. He could be found walking the show floor, doing agility drills, and even dancing. Spot, however, was not the only robot at the show. SMP Robotics, Robotic Assistance Devices (RAD), and Asylon Robotics had robots at the show. ADT even took to the stage with their humanoid robot on wheels. Tyco had their Ava Robotics integrated robot in the innovation suite. Knightscope was not at the show, but they had strategically positioned their roadshow at Underground Atlanta at the same time GSX was being hosted.
Robots and autonomous technology are gaining adoption by the security industry. The fear many guard companies have relates to the robot replacing the security guard. The answer is yes; there will be fewer guards, but the robots will require an operator, moving guard companies to support clients through monitored Security Operations Centers (SOC) to monitor the robots. The value is that robots can be sent into areas on pre-determined or random routes to monitor areas where it may not be safe to send a human.
The cloud was everywhere at GSX. The manufacturers have gotten the idea, or at least most of them. End-users are asking for some version of cloud solutions with every conversation, and as more of them get pulled under the CISO or CIO, this trend is only going to continue. Azure, Google, AWS, and Wasabi were cloud names referred to by most manufacturers; and not just video. Access control, analytics, IoT device manufacturers, key management, workflow optimization companies; they all led with the cloud while only a few offered on-premise or hybrid solutions. Even traditional analog behemoths like Honeywell, Lenel, and Salient, to name a few, have realized that a version of the cloud has to be included in their future or they will not see adoption.
The cloud has reached a maturation level that makes it work for many companies. While some of the companies are late to the cloud party, it is nice to see some of the older technology manufacturers who have been in the security industry for many years begin to evolve into what hopes to be a sleeker, more user-friendly interface with the advantages the cloud brings to end-users. The user interfaces were typically web-based with a simple, yet user friendly feel; compared to clunky, thick clients used in the past. Manufacturers have been plagued by their own internal review of their technologies, and for experienced executives, the user interface has looked cutting edge. These companies have listened to their customers and have or are beginning to replace the bloat of the clunky interfaces with simple fluid interfaces that the next generation of security professionals expect. Look for new and innovative products to come from these companies in the future.
It was not a surprise to speak with a number of traditional IT vendors at the show who were looking at cloud and IoT devices as an extension of what they already offer.
GSX seemed to have vendor booths of fences, gates, bollards, barriers, and more at every turn. Perimeter hardening seemed to be a very big technology being shown at the event. This included the actual barrier equipment to radar and drone detection technologies used for the tracking of people or drones along the perimeter. While cameras and guards, as well as defined physical space using gates has been the precedent for hardening the perimeter in the past, innovations in technology to see further in good and adverse conditions has provided end-users an upper hand in hardening the perimeter.
It was noted that the traditional bollard and gate companies had little booth traffic, while the electronic tracking and deterrent systems had increased booth traffic.
GSX is one of the key shows for the security industry, though labeled as a continuing education show, it will probably not be as large as ISC West for the foreseeable future. It will be interesting to compare this year to the next few years; 2023 in Dallas, Texas, 2024 in Orlando, Florida, and 2025 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The security industry is at a turning point, where we have innovated more new technology in the last five years than in the last 20 before it; forcing the industry to adopt new technology or be left behind. As the cloud, robots, AI, and other technologies innovate, the industry veterans are finding the need to adapt as new companies who specialize in these technologies create even more opportunities. As the CIO becomes a stakeholder, it is to be expected that more IT companies will expand into the traditional security industry technology.