Software applications and security solutions in the government vertical market are in high demand and competing vendors are stepping up their game.
One big push in the industry is the smart card initiative, according to Rick Focke, product manager, Software House, Westford, Mass. The acceptance of TWIC cards and how many have already been rolled out is just one focus. "There have been some hiccups in the government's delivery of those cards but it's picking up," explained Focke. For Software House, that has been the main product enhancement and application-to accept those cards and enroll them properly in the system.
Jumbi Edulbehram, vice president of Business Development for Next Level Security Systems, Carlsbad, Calif., agrees that there is a lot of attention to identification technology, such as biometrics, with the ultimate goal to get to some kind of smart card which has everyone's identity information on it. "And that's also connected with asset management technologies," explained Edulbehram. "Obviously when it comes to people in the government and military space, they have tons of assets. Software applications for asset tracking and management is a big need right now-being able to tag big assets with RFID and using GPS tracking to know where these assets are at any point and time."
One program in the government space that will impact access control software is the Identity and Credential Access Management (ICAM) initiative, according to Robert Beliles, vice president of Enterprise Business Development, Hirsch Electronics, Santa Ana, Calif. "Beyond obviously raising higher levels of security when it comes to the identity part of it, ICAM is really being aimed at significantly doing more in terms of tying physical access control systems in with logical or network access systems," explained Beliles. "So the implication for access control vendors is one of basically making sure that your system has the interoperability capabilities to conform to those guidelines that ICAM spells out."
"As far as applications, we're seeing strong demand for controlling SCIF (sensitive compartmentalized information facilities) areas where they have pretty strict standards of security," added Focke. And with the demand for a higher level of security with applications and technology available for the government space, the pressure for integrators to become more network and IT savvy is something that continues to have precedence. "The security integrators have to really be able to step up and talk face-to-face with IT staff. There are some specific standards for getting listed to put in the UL 2050 projects, for those SCIF areas, so if an integrator wants to go after that market, they better make sure they're up to date on standards and get trained on that type of installation."
The government is pushing standards from video to access control to all other sides of the industry in order to better protect government infrastructure, according to Edulbehram. One part of the government active in setting standards is the National Institute of Standards and Technology. "The software manufacturers have to pay attention in coming up with cost-effective solutions and making sure they can convince people that there are standards-based solutions that are possible to get in this industry," explained Edulbehram.
Another reason why standards are so important is to keep and maintain the cost structure down. "Standards will help drive cost down for the consumer as well as the manufacturer," said Beliles. "In terms of everyone being on an IP network, it's similar to everyone sharing the same highway system. Some people think that as long as they use the same highways as everyone else, they can communicate with everyone else but it just doesn't work that way. You still have to look at what target systems you are integrating with. There still has to be an agreement between two vendors, or a standard in itself, that states 'this is how I am going to share this information.'"