Security Market Growing Up

THERE’S increasing IT maturity taking place in the electronic and networked security industry and it’s extremely good to see. We need to see more of this maturity and I don’t think it matters how installers come to embrace IT ecosystem, as long as they embrace it.
I think we’d all agree that for a long time there’s been a divide between most security integrators and the IT function. It would be a mistake to suggest this division has been industry-wide because the best security integrators are eating IT for breakfast but for many installers handling stuff like IP addresses and port forwards is still a bit much. 

The response to this resistance has come from all directions. We’ve seen some distributors supplying systems that are entirely pre-commissioned (think Pacom and Lan1), and we’ve seen manufacturers and distributors simplifying IP solutions significantly. 

This increasing closeness between manufacturers/distributors and integrators is telling, in my opinion. It extends from training to commissioning, to alliances on installations and new product development. I think it’s in great part an evolutionary response to the nature of our live market, which has less money to spend but which requires greater technical support.

In the U.S. there’s also evidence of consolidation at both vendor level and integrator level. This reflects pressure and a willingness to take real risks to win future opportunity. I do see some evidence of that going on in Australia, though to a far lesser extent than the U.S. In my opinion there are only a handful of organisations here with the fiscal muscle to make worthwhile acquisitions and almost none brave enough to spend big in this slow market. I think when buys do come, we’ll see them take place between IT companies and physical security suppliers and integrators. 

At all times and all levels we are seeing more and more product that depends on network support. Major trends of simplification include network sniffers that find devices and propagate them into management solutions. And supporting these devices are increasingly stripped down VMS solutions running on tablets and smartphones. 

This last is a major trend with recent releases of Mobotix App, the pivotal release of Milestone’s new multi-platform Arcus VMS to third party camera manufacturers and Bosch’s new dynamic transcoding technology. But Milestone Arcus is an interesting move from one of the industry’s leading VMS makers. Taking cutting edge technology to the mass market in this way is another sign of a maturing market.

You could be forgiven for thinking it’s all about video surveillance again but it’s not. I was really pleased to read about the new Optex Redwall PoE detector during the month. This sensor is designed to slot into PSIM or VMS applications. I’m looking forward to the release of PoE sensors for business and domestic applications in the mid-term future. Whether these will be hardwired or WiFi, time will tell. 

While some may suggest I’m going a bit far with all-IP alarm systems, I’d argue not. With PSIA releasing its new standards for intrusion alarms and access control during the month, it’s impossible to deny that there will come a time when alarm systems are going to conform to network standards. 

You only have to look at the success of ONVIF to see that once a couple of key companies head in the direction of some gleaming new niche, the rest of the herd form up close behind them. It only takes one bright spark to create a basic IP-alarm system using readily available technology and the rest will be history. A 50-dollar HD camera-quad PIR with a SIM card? It’s not the Ness Security Guard but it could be. 

When it comes to larger solutions, will an all-IP alarm system be a network device? Probably yes and partly no. An alarm panel needs to retain the ability to stand alone though there’s no reason a PoE device could not manage this just as well as a majority analogue system. 

You have to put yourself into the headspace of the people building the systems of the future for the people who will use them. The signs start with market leaders. To my mind, the best new alarm panels are undeniably network-capable platforms upgradeable by firmware. With IP ports, flash drives and USB connectivity onboard they’re only a couple of pieces of functionality away from our fully networked future.


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