Resilient individuals taking security and fire safety into their own hands? This will be one of the biggest changes to security that will occur over the next five years. The security industry cannot rely on our technical innovation and expertise and assume that we will not be disrupted by consumer-led initiatives. Our roles will be transformed by disintermediation just as occurred in the travel industry, book publishing industry and product distribution.

We were easily able to dismiss the first consumer analog security cameras due to their poor quality and performance. At that point we were right, but this new technology is not so easy to dismiss. Consumer technology is rapidly changing in performance and quality, and now has an advantage over our traditional hierarchical security practices.

Crowdsourcing is not to be ignored, it deserves our full attention. The smartphone will soon be the security device of choice. While the smartphone may lack in certain areas, it is made up by its ubiquity, massive numbers and online reliability.

Two examples caught our attention this week. SOS-Response offers a free app that sends a burst round of 30 photos to first responders. This app is now available for IOS and Android phones. This technology allows a camera phone to turn into a mobile safety/security device that includes geo-location and time stamping. It provides first responders with real time data as an incident is being observed by a consumer.

An even more impressive initiative is Galileo robo-cam which provides a platform for safety and security applications. This device allows a user to remotely point an Iphone or camera in virtually any direction via mobile device such as the ipad. The irony of this new device is that the funding for its manufacture is being accomplished via crowdfunding. This project has raised almost four times its original budget by using Kickstarter – no red tape, no angel investor and no venture capitalist required.

Youtube Video of Galileo Robo-Cam
This new technology certainly poses a new challenge for our industry. We have operated in a Command and Control hierarchical culture as long as we can remember. A new type of “fog of war” is about to be unleashed. This will raise our stakeholders’ expectations, and demonstrate how we are able to respond to rapid industry change. The demand for accountability is about to rise significantly, and the stakeholders holding us accountable will have all the data they need to show we failed.

At first glance, it may seem that this consumer technology will be kept at bay because we feel we are the ones with the “right corporate technology”. Unfortunately, this will most likely not be the case.

How long before access control is challenged by the smartphone? The answer is not clear, however, it would be a safe bet that eventually apps will be available for a multitude of safety and security tasks that today we can’t imagine. If cash registers are being replaced by a small attachment that can be plugged into an IPhone, why would we think that we would be exempt from similar technology?

So, as safety and security practitioners, we have a two prong transition to navigate. First we will need to integrate consumer devices in our technology strategies and tactics. This is the easy part. It will require us to complement our traditional skill sets with IT expertise beyond networking, which most of us have mastered. Data mining will have to be done in real time to extract the most relevant information as incidents are being reported. Then, by mastering the use of data dissemination tools, stakeholders will become acutely aware of their risks. Each new shooting incident, natural disaster, or unexpected incident seems to highlight our inability to tap into the networks that link all our constituents and warn them of the danger they may face.

The real challenge we face in our industry is in our behaviors and responses. Our current hierarchical model requires that we put expertise in silos to accommodate our Command and Control practices. Silos are out. Organizational resilience, which is built on the strength of individuals and their resilience is in. With a multitude of electronic eyes and ears, no action will be isolated from its intended, or unintended consequences. Quicker and smarter responses will be demanded. Evidence of poor performance on our part will be immediately exposed.

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