While the world waits anxiously for the commercial market to turn around, there's a glimmer of hope in the form of opportunities in the parking, office and high-rise vertical markets. The market is currently in a holding pattern, but needs to increase revenues, work with their current infrastructure, migrate to new technologies, add cost and energy savings, lighting controls and other efficiencies that property management companies can easily pass on and sell to those leasing or buying their buildings.
The parking vertical market in particular has a stellar record of performance, is a service everyone needs, and is now much more efficient with new technologies and developments in radio frequency identification and transponders with quick throughput, which equals fewer carbon emissions from idling cars, as well as accountability for parking revenue officials. (See related story on these pages.)
Property management companies are all about adding value to those who lease their buildings. If they can add it with increased security, convergence of physical and logical access control, biometrics, emergency communications and notification systems and surveillance cameras it's an easier sell and may also persuade these companies to take out longer lease terms.
Time for managed services
There's another overriding emerging opportunity in these vertical markets and it's managed services. According to Philip Atteberry, director and Segment Head, Managed Security Services, Siemens Industry Inc., Buffalo Grove, Ill., there is tremendous value in managed services for high rises and offices, especially as they strive to keep unoccupied and after-hours buildings safe from vandals and trespassers. Managed services have migrated to a business acumen with value the user can realize in overall cost savings and greater operating efficiencies. In addition, managed services with video escort and virtual guard tours are seeing growth and while end-users still need to be educated on this facet, it's ready to explode.
"There's tremendous opportunity for managed services in key areas, such as night time guarding," Atteberry said. "These properties need security after hours. During the day, there is tremendous value in having security personnel such as guards as a deterrent. We can get the same value from remote guarding in off hours. In fact, remote guarding is a great enabler of guard services and augments it well."
Overall, Atteberry said Siemens has seen a big pull back by property management in their traditional activities as a result of the recession. "They are looking for security for empty buildings and still want to maintain security because of vandals. Many are looking to standardize on their platforms and drive efficiencies and save money. They have fewer tenants and want to know how they can maintain what they have at a lower cost," he said, adding that it's the service that comes with the product-solution that the end-user counts and depends upon.
"Managed services with video escort have seen some growth in particular, but it's still in the early phases of adoption," Atteberry said. "We do find value in that but there is still a learning curve in the industry. This pertains to people escorts and also asset escorting and tracking. A perfect example is the Federal Reserve transferring a large amount of money from point A to B."
Atteberry said end-users like standardization and many have a variety of different installed systems. "Every building has different access control and a different video platform. They want better management and want to standardize on one system, one integrator, so they can maximize efficiencies and their costs. Our managed services can work with most of their platforms. We have a platform that works with some 80 percent of the cameras out there. They also want IP-based access control and we get more and more requests for Web-based applications from users who don't want to have to use a VPN connection. They want to get on with a basic Web browser and lock things down for example, if the offices are closed for the day."
IP is in the driver's seat
The move to more IP-based solutions, he said, will continue to drive the market. "More and more commercial buildings will be moving to IP-based solutions. The cost savings is so much greater for them. Through hosting services and managed services they will be able to reduce their ongoing operating costs. We will see more mass notification command and control platforms operating from the cloud in the future. The industry is ready for it, the technology is growing and we are just on the tip of the iceberg with what the user can do with it."
There's opportunity in the parking, high- rise and office vertical markets. These customers need cost savings and new technologies in the way of RFID, managed services, access control, biometrics, video and more. Integrators who can present unified solutions that realize costs savings, add value and increase efficiencies will be ready to go when the economy turns around.