Electronic intrusion detection has experienced significant changes over the past few decades. Some include advances in technology while others involve how traditional alarm companies do business. This is especially true where projects demand network connections and advanced forms of integration.
In this story, we'll take a look at important technological trends, examine why it's sometimes necessary for traditional alarm companies to partner with systems integrators and look at several ways in which the very face of intrusion protection could change in the somewhat distant future. To help us do this we've called on the expertise of long-time security expert, Richard Cantor, CEO, Amerigard Alarm & Security Corp., New York, N.Y.
Trends in technology
On the technical side, one of the most notable changes in intrusion detection is how security systems integrate with consumer-oriented mobile devices, such as smartphones.
"Today everything is market driven in the end and our industry and the technology which is now offered is all blending together. We are indeed in the iPhone/Internet age. The bottom line is consumers are savvy about products, services and pricing," said Cantor.
A good example of this is the ability for the homeowner to control their residential alarm system from a remote location using a laptop or cell phone from anywhere in the world. The same connection allows them to view one or more cameras, as well as affect temperature, lighting, and other subsystems in the home.
Business owners and managers also have come to rely on these same technological features. This has effectively extended their reach into the workplace itself, which allows them to keep a closer eye on shoplifting and internal theft. This involves a relatively high level of integration.
"From a product offering standpoint things are blending together more and more. Security systems now offer home automation and home automation systems offer security, and both can take advantage of new wireless protocols such as Z-wave. Our industry is moving toward cloud type services with Honeywell's Total Connect services, 2Gig's new product line, and Elk's--which has been around for some time now. So right now it's the wild, wild west out there."
For example, Home Automation Inc. of New Orleans is poised to integrate wireless, digital locksets and lighting controls with HAI's Omni-Pro controller using Zigbee technology. This same methodology can be used to link these same locksets with the homeowner remotely over the Internet. More and more we're also seeing the use of wireless networks using WiFi.
The problem for some traditional alarm companies, however, is that security technicians often lack the necessary skill sets to deal with digital technology in the network realm. When this is the case, it's not uncommon for them to contract with systems integrators to assist them with the Internet Protocol (IP) side of the job.
For example, more and more alarm dealers are being asked by their clients-both residential and commercial-to provide outside access to camera systems. Consumers simply want to take advantage of all the benefits that today's digital IP technology provides.
"You could add the prospect of remote video monitoring, though that is likely to remain a small niche market," said Cantor.
There are those who are sure to disagree with Cantor's assessment in as much as many communities have mandated the use of video verification or some other means to curb the unnecessary dispatch of police officers and fire fighters. Remote video has long offered this capability and will continue to do so in the years to come.
Central station operations
Specifically, IP technology enables central station operators to integrate central station computers with cameras on site. This allows them to look in on specific locations within a facility where alarm signals originate.