Emerging Technologies Promise A Scary Future

The ongoing Cisco Partner Summit has provided an interesting look at the technologies the IT industry and the channel are starting to embrace. Videoconferencing, digital signage and physical security are three of the hottest areas. Dig a little, and there's no doubt that physical secuity is by far the scariest.

What's happening is that the security business, once divided into different "silos" such as video surveillance, network security and physical (as in building) security are now being integrated together into one, huge, Big-Brother-Is-Watching environment.The government is driving much of this, of course, in the aftermath of 9/11, but so are other markets like education, for example, where there is concern about the growing number of campus shootings. Vendors like Cisco (which recently invested in a surveillance camera business) provide the hardware and the training; integrators make it all work together seamlessly; and paranoid government and private-sector entities purchase the solution.

So what's coming? Very shortly you'll see Web-based networks of video surveillance cameras monitoring cities, campuses, workplaces or neighborhoods taping and storing your physical movements and moving the information to remote locations. The network can determine who belongs in a specific location (like an office building) or instantly distinguish, say, a gunshot from a car backfiring and, if necessary, issue an alert. This may be more efficient than the current status quo, but it certainly makes any privacy advocate wonder if just maybe too much technology is not a good thing. 

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