SIS Blog

Threats and Opportunities: The Future of Alarm Monitoring Operations in Government

by | Aug 8, 2023

When we consider the future of alarm monitoring and security operations in government, it’s clear that technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning will transform everything–as they already are. For example, today’s security and alarm monitoring technologies have given us the power to do more with less, often detecting threats and enabling faster responses than human eyes, or even traditional systems alone, could have done in the past.

But what’s really interesting is that these technologies, already immensely powerful, are merely in their infancy. In recent years alone, we’ve been able to augment security operations with AI-enhanced video, analytics, and automation. But what will happen in the next few years? From emotion recognition systems to autonomous robots, ideas that were once in the realm of science fiction are in active development and deployment today. And that’s just what we can foresee in the near future: there’s no fathoming what the landscape will look like years from now.

That said, here’s what we do know about the future of alarm monitoring operations in government: from the opportunities we can harness to the challenges we must address.

The Opportunity: Rapid, Automated Security Response

When it comes to government security, new technologies hold exciting potential. As noted in the 2022 National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Final Report, “The ability of a machine to perceive, evaluate, and act more quickly and accurately than a human represents a competitive advantage in any field—civilian or military. AI technologies will be a source of enormous power for the companies and countries that harness them.”

AI-enhanced systems can already handle security needs and threats with exceptionally fast speed, accuracy, and skill. Today, government agencies are relying on everything from AI-augmented video surveillance to AI analytics to understand patterns and predict potential threats much faster than humans can. And new advances, like semi-autonomous robot security dogs used for perimeter security, for example, are bringing these technologies out from beyond the screen and applying them to physical security challenges.

The Challenge: Integrating New Technologies with Legacy Systems

There’s a lot of opportunity ahead, but the current challenge for government agencies will be to integrate the rapidly-developing flow of new technologies into existing, legacy systems. Your agency may already have strong access control, perimeter monitoring, video surveillance, and alarm systems in place–and there is no need to rip these up and rewire everything just to bring the newest technologies on board.

Today it’s possible to bring all of these systems together so they can work as one. Often, this is just a matter of pulling all your different signals into a unified software solution, where you can monitor everything from a single dashboard. This means that you can keep your legacy fire alarm system intact, for example, while also integrating the newest tech solutions available now–and those being developed for the future.

The Challenge: Sourcing Technology that Protects National Security 

In a world where security and information technology is developed rapidly and on a global scale, it’s surprisingly easy for untrustworthy or federally-banned foreign tech to slip into your systems, where their very existence may pose a direct threat to your agency and wider national security interests.

We cannot overemphasize this threat, especially as we learn just how many government agencies have made themselves vulnerable to foreign adversaries by making seemingly innocuous technology choices. According to Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, at least 1,681 state and local agencies across 49 states were found to be using untrustworthy, federally-banned technology. Together, these agencies have used foreign technology to conduct “nearly 5,700 transactions involving…smartphones, surveillance cameras, temperature scanners, handheld radios and networking equipment,” and have deployed it “in schools, hospitals, prisons, public transit systems and government offices around the country.”

No matter what your mission may be, your agency has a duty to protect national security interests. This means ensuring that any new technology, software, or security solution you use is federally approved and authorized.

The Challenge: Protecting Against AI Adversaries

Government agencies increasingly face the threat of adversarial AI systems breaking through even the best security measures. It’s worth remembering that the powerful AI capabilities working for you can also be used against you–at a speed and scale a human adversary could never achieve.

As security expert Bruce Schneier predicts, “AI systems will themselves become hackers: finding vulnerabilities in all sorts of social, economic, and political systems, and then exploiting them at an unprecedented speed, scale, and scope. It’s not just a difference in degree; it’s a difference in kind. We risk a future of AI systems hacking other AI systems, with humans being little more than collateral damage.”

This is an interesting risk, because even if you chose not to integrate these emerging technologies into your security operations, you wouldn’t really be “opting out” of a world that increasingly deployed such super-intelligent AI systems. You would still need to develop extremely strong defense strategies for combating AI adversaries that could quickly and capably undermine your security operations. 

As this technology progresses, government agencies will have to be wise about deploying systems that not only defend against traditional threats, but account for a new reality where AIs will be hacking other AIs–often with greater speed, accuracy, and success than a human adversary ever could.

The Challenge: Securing the Physical Infrastructure for a Digital World

Another challenge we will have to address is how to secure the physical infrastructure that underpins these powerful new technologies. While they may seem removed from physical reality, these systems all require physical hardware and resources to function. And as things stand today, securing those resources is not a given. 

Take microchips, for example. As Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) pointed out in their 2022 Progress Report, advanced semiconductors are vital to powering AI systems. However, the majority of chips used in the United States are produced at a single plant in Taiwan: as the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Final Report puts it, a plant “separated by just 110 miles of water” from China. And if, for example, China ever seizes Taiwan, it could decide to limit U.S. access to the advanced microchips that are fueling AI innovation and powering AI-enhanced security systems.

The other problem we face is the sheer computing power–in other words, energy–needed to run AI and machine learning systems, power smart cities, and collect and maintain the vast troves of data these systems produce. As anthropologist Steven Gonzalez Monserrate writes in the MIT Press Reader, data centers, which are the physical backbone of everything we do and experience “in the cloud” now drain more energy than some nation-states–to the point that they are also physically draining rivers and water supplies in already drought-prone areas. “The Cloud now has a bigger footprint than the airline industry,” he writes. “A single data center can consume the equivalent electricity of 50,000 homes.” The potential for this technology is infinite, but its progress will also put a strain on our physical resources, which are finite.

The Way Forward

Security professionals should be open to the opportunities new technologies bring while staying vigilant about near-term challenges and long-term, big-picture complexities. Some of these challenges will call for action on a large scale, while others can be addressed with prudent technology decisions.

For example, SIS Alarm Center software has long been a trusted solution for government agencies. Alarm Center can provide seamless system integration and connectivity, allowing you to integrate the latest AI-enhanced and emerging technology with legacy systems. And, it empowers organizations to monitor hundreds of different signals from a single dashboard. 

SIS has over 30 years of experience with government standards requirements, and is the leading alarm automation and electronic security integration software for federal, state, and local dispatch centers. Crucially for government agencies, our Alarm Center software has received and maintains an Authority to Operate (ATO) on U.S. government networks and supports multiple federal and military agencies including the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Department of State. 

Alarm Center has also passed stringent testing requirements, including Department of Defense Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP) and complies with Assured Compliance Assessment Solution (ACAS) and the Secure Configuration Compliance. 

Contact us to see how Alarm Center can strengthen your security today–and prepare you for tomorrow’s challenges.

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