How Big Data Is Like Teen Dating: Everyone Claims To Be Doing It

Security integrators — plus vendors and service providers — remain puzzled by what to do with all the information and analysis pieces that comprise the big picture of data possibilities.

Mickey McCarter

“Big data is like teen dating,” quipped Steve Van Till, president and CEO of Brivo, during a presentation at the Securing New Ground (SNG) conference, held in New York City on Oct. 28.

“Everyone talks about it,” he continued. “Nobody knows how to do it. Everyone thinks everyone else is doing it. So everyone claims they are doing it.”

The audience at the security industry executive conference chuckled at the joke, but more importantly, nodded in agreement at his larger point: Integrators, manufacturers and service providers don’t really know how to make use of all of the information collected by security systems, which have seen an explosion in information with the spread of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices and connected buildings.

The commoditization of sensors has resulted in a wide distribution of information-collecting mechanisms, but few are analyzing that information. Van Till cited a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute, which reported that only 1 percent of data produced by sensors in IoT devices was analyzed and used to make decisions.

“That means 99 percent of the data produced was basically wasted,” said Van Till, speaking on a panel titled “Megatrends: Creating Big Challenges and Greater Opportunities.”

To get the most out of this collected Big Data, planners have to start with the basics, Van Till suggested. Sit down with a pencil and write down what you (and your customers) would like to know — and what would you want to change.

Related: Is Analytics the Golden Ticket to Managed Services Success?

“Too many security systems are local, and data is trapped and not allowed to be part of a larger data set,” Van Till said. “Structurally, it’s not possible to do Big Data on a great deal of security data that would be of interest today.”

Currently, the most useful analysis comes from the largest companies with multiple facilities and the capability to collect and analyze data distributed throughout their enterprise. But analysis of data from disparate commercial or residential properties would provide a great deal of valuable information to all beneficiaries of a security system.

“Cloud-based aggregation is key for making Big Data relevant, applicable and useful in the security domain,” Van Till said.

Your neighbor’s data matters, he added. Managed service providers can deliver better security when they look across people in similar circumstances and add to security for all clients.

Speaking on the same panel, Thanasis Molokotos, executive vice president and head of the Americas division for Assa Abloy AB, underscored the challenges of collecting data from IoT devices, noting estimates that there were two billion IoT devices five years ago, while today there are 10 billion.

Related: How You Can Capitalize on the Internet of Things

Data analytics are a major component of smart buildings, Molokotos said, and smart buildings will be the norm in five years. Today, building construction industry is one of the most inefficient and wasteful industries in the world, he continued. But that is changing through virtual design.

In five years, Molokotos anticipates, all new buildings will be virtually designed and incorporate more smart connections. “We are going to experience blurring channels as access control starts earlier in the process rather than being left as an afterthought,” Molokotos said.

In a later panel, Dan Moceri, CEO and co-founder of integrator Convergint Technologies, agreed with the observations made by Van Till and Molokotos.

“We have a huge opportunity,” Moceri said. Companies can still extract and analyze plenty of data to improve processes for clients in many areas. “There is a lot of data there that we are using in business processes to help our customers save money.”

Integrators must figure out how to make money from Big Data analysis, Moceri said. Once the financial side is sorted out, Big Data will grow up and evolve beyond “teen dating.”

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