5G for security industry comes of age

This article first appeared on IFSEC Global.

Digital transformation has changed the face of perimeter security and defence, with the traditional physical perimeter being replaced by a network of endpoints that can often be moved. This ever-expanding perimeter of endpoints presents new challenges for the security industry as surveillance equipment moves to using 4K/8K CCTV cameras, for example, which can generate up to 50 Mbps of traffic, with multiple 4K cameras requiring high bandwidth connectivity to support security applications.

Enterprises and industrial facilities such as factories and airports that require high bandwidth networks also need to have control over the security, management, data traffic and operations of their networks. In the past, they have been able to use fixed or specialist wireless networks, which worked well for the application requirements at the time. However, fixed networks simply don’t meet the needs of the ever-expanding perimeter and the exponential growth in demand for data throughput.

How can security professionals and engineers implement wireless connectivity that reliably and securely supports perimeter security and defence applications? What are the key benefits and challenges of implementing 5G-level networks, and which technologies are key to enable these networks?

The emergence of private 5G networks

Private networks have certainly been around for a while, offering reliability, security, and control. However, the evolution of 5G is creating a much more enhanced level of private network control, often using dedicated spectrum.

For example, in a smart city, public safety services can use a private network for sensitive CCTV data. Looking further ahead to the smart cities of the future, private networks will also deliver the bandwidth and control needed to support automated traffic congestion systems, provide connections for autonomous vehicles and guide emergency vehicles remotely.

Other key benefits of 5G also include greater speed and low latency that enable the use of innovative and data rich security applications. Latency in particular is becoming a thing of the past, with 5G download speeds ranging from around 50 Mbps to 1.8 Gbps or more, depending on network conditions, transforming the quality of images and live video, and delivering real-time actionable insights.

Solving the challenges of uplink and 5G spectrum

One of the key challenges for engineers and integrators when implementing 5G (private) networks is to create the necessary capacity to support massive data upload to the cloud. The growing number of smart devices and security applications needs to have the capacity to uplink in order to provide security leaders and decision-makers with real-time analytics and insights.

mmWave wireless technology has emerged as a cost-effective 5G deployment strategy   delivering reliable ultra-low latency and high bandwidth performance into demanding applications for security and defence. mmWave solves the challenge of massive data upload by reliably transferring large amounts of data from security applications to the cloud, such as from high resolution 4K/8K CCTV and video cameras to the control centre.

Another key consideration is related to spectrum. Many 5G private networks utilise dedicated licenced spectrum for their effective and secure operation. However, this spectrum can be quite restrictive in terms of its availability, with only a small amount made available by local regulators for dedicated private use. Additionally, this spectrum is restricted to a small geographical area, making it increasingly challenging to support the ever-expanding perimeter of endpoints.

5G unlicensed spectrum that doesn’t require regulatory approval is made available on the mmWave band of frequencies between 57-71GHz, which offers 14GHz of available spectrum to support data rich applications – the single largest block of spectrum available to date. Furthermore, the licence exempt band is free to use in any location, offering additional flexibility.

Installation that utilises existing infrastructure

Private 5G networks can be easily deployed utilising mmWave for link aggregation back to the internet. Instead of having large masts and base stations with fixed point-to-point links, organisations are increasingly turning to networking equipment that enables attachment of distribution nodes to existing site and surveillance infrastructure, or installation of mobile base stations. The latter can be easily moved around to accommodate the changing needs of the network. This approach significantly increases the flexibility of 5G deployments for perimeter security applications, such as video surveillance applications, live facial recognition, biometrics, and more.

In addition, security professionals and engineers may consider adopting wireless network equipment designed for low Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) environments to support rapid set up and agility of security applications.

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence-led innovation

Greater capacity of (private) 5G networks will enhance the development of cutting-edge technologies in perimeter security and defence. These include Machine Learning and deep learning algorithms to develop advanced video analytics solutions. 5G mmWave connectivity is also set to increase the intelligence of surveillance systems and enable Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS), where video is uploaded to a centralised cloud platform rather than being saved via local systems.

5G mmWave networks enable near real-time analysis using Artificial Intelligence that opens up new and interesting use cases for the perimeter security defence sectors. By automating access control, intrusion detection, motion detection and behaviour detection, organisations can improve security, while reducing the requirement of deploying a large number of physical security personnel.

If you’re interested in learning more about high-speed, multi-gigabit 5G technology and mmWave connectivity, get in touch with us today.