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  1. Are we ready for the next generation networks?.. In some ways the traditional notions we hold of privacy are currently holding us back. They are preventing us from taking full advantage of the possibilities that technology is making available to us right now. I genuinely foresee a point in time where we will overcome such social stigmas (this really is all it is) and experience the benefits that will come, only from truly embracing all that technology can offer us. So how do we get from point A to point B? Currently we strictly control who has access to our personal data. We painstakingly and meticulously specify which websites can access what data and are regularly asked to give permission / authorise and sign-in on a daily basis. We default to 'not sharing' and are suspicious (usually rightfully so) of any requests for details that are not giving us what we asked for. Services relating to health, wealth and security among others are slow and painful to authenticate to and only relate to each other when we go out of our way to inform and advise. We settle for sub-optimal performance as we do not know anything better. How does this compare to 'Point B'? By the time we reach this stage we can expect all services with which we interact to be uniquely personalised. It would be considered normal that all shops recognise us and offer relevant promotions with clothing shops showing styles modelled by us, content which is interesting to us will be presented from all media outlets and systems which required manual configuration previously just to "work" will instead seamlessly operate based on any interaction we make with any other equipment or system. If we choose to purchase a new fridge then our car, TV and alarm clock should know about it and shops should stop trying to sell us one. Our home power management systems of the future should be able to tell when we are out, our heating should self adjust, windows should close and the premises should automatically become secured. These are basic examples, but you get the idea. How do we then achieve this huge leap of faith from not wanting anyone to know what TV programs you like to allowing any relevant service to access that data? The two stage solution... I believe that due to our learnt behaviour of being 'inherently suspicious' the majority of us will need to do this in two stages. Firstly we would use an online avatar to represent us that has no known link to our real identity. This avatar can be customised and will allow us to choose to add more understanding and know-how over a period of time without completely signing over access to everything about us. As this avatar becomes more useful and effective we may then come to reach a point where some brave souls volunteer for the second stage which is to give this online avatar our 'real life' identity. Building trust like this may take time but will give a strong foundation to build upon. At this point the GUID (Global unique ID) relating to our avatar would instead become linked to our actual self and with less manual effort our behaviour would lead to point B and the ideal symbiosis of technology and personality could be achieved. Some cultures may find it easier to jump directly to this second stage due to cultural differences in upbringing and behaviour, this could potentially lead to an advantage to those who 'let go' sooner over those who need to take a longer, winding path to reach the same almost inevitable conclusion. Orwellian? Yes maybe, but what can we achieve once we focus beyond our traditional notions of the self?...
  2. Crossing of paths... Alarm Transmission Systems (ATS) are increasingly adding capabilities that would traditionally have been performed by dedicated devices, for example CCTV verification. At the same time Control and Indicating Equipment (CIE, or control panels in plain English) feature built in IP communication functionality and are giving us access to Home Automation integration and more. This type of blurring of what would previously have been clear and distinct roles that equipment played is becoming much more common and is set to extend even further in the future. We are already in a position where individual cameras and detectors of all types can communicate directly with the software at an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) without utilising at ATS if they so wished. Installers are being empowered with the ability to not only connect instantly to a remote CIE to analyse a potential fault, but to be in a position to connect directly to a detector or camera or any other component of a system to amend settings, re-enable or even repurpose a generic multi-purpose device to enable the maximum potential protection for clients at all times. This type of convergence leads to some fantastic opportunities and will mean that the next few years will certainly be interesting. It will also however, mean that those whom are writing the standards to which we each adhere, will have to write them without constraints on the form of equipment utilised in some cases. A very tough ask of them when they are trying to give reasonably specific guidance. Confusion or cohesion? Given this merging of functions and the seemingly inevitable move towards every component being addressable where does that leave our suppliers? Will there be a place for specialised equipment if the same function is provided to the same standard in an integrated manner by another supplier? Does this lead to an eventual move away from processing of alarms by dedicated CIE at the protected property to instead provide processing 'in the cloud' at the ARC or any other centralised location? Will instant and thorough control of remote devices by installers lead to a change in business models when attendance is much reduced? Does dedicated equipment improve the structure of the overall system or benefit us in another way? Will ATS suppliers be bypassed or will they 'lead the revolution'? Will we see less competition as a result or more? As always, please feel free to discuss, sharing your thoughts and views on this subject…
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