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Is physical security ready for the cloud?

July 26, 2017

Is physical security ready for the cloud?

Cloud-based access control

Due to the nature of access control, it’s not feasible to have the entire system running in the cloud without local hardware and software to do things like create ID cards and control locks. What customers typically are looking for has more to do with remote access than storing data in the cloud or having the entire system in the cloud. Gaining the ability to view events, add and remove users, and lock and unlock doors from anywhere remotely is a compelling value proposition.

There really are no downsides to cloud-based access control other than training and educating your customers on the best practices of managing their access control systems remotely. For example, if the system admin isn’t available, other authorized employees can gain access to the system.

Cloud-based video surveillance

Customers might want to put all video surveillance recordings into the cloud, but it’s probably not feasible with today’s bandwidth and storage limitations. Sure, we’ve seen massive improvements and cost reductions to both, but not enough to be able to handle the amount of data generated from a typical video surveillance install.

The amount of storage necessary would quickly become cost prohibitive, especially when you consider that some customers have retention policies of a year or more. While remotely viewing cameras in real time isn’t an issue, if you need to pull archived video down from the cloud, it could take so long it becomes unproductive.

Another problem is the chain of custody. If video archived in the cloud is requested for court, it won’t take long for a lawyer to ask who had access to the video. If your customer can’t account for the actions of their cloud storage provider, they could run into trouble.

The way the cloud is being used effectively in video surveillance today is with a cloud software implementation and local video storage. This allows admins to access the software from anywhere while video is stored onsite and is readily available.

Cloud future

As bandwidth continues to get faster and cheaper, storage costs drop and compression codecs are refined, it’s possible we’ll see additional pieces and aspects of physical security move to the cloud. Until then, it’s up to you to educate your customers on what is and isn’t possible.