Change is in the air. The burglar and fire alarm industry is moving squarely into the realm of turnkey systems solutions and converged services. The Internet and networking is having a major impact, as well as megapixel cameras and wireless connectivity. Stand alone systems are becoming a thing of the past. Most equipment carries more than one function or can be piggybacked on legacy devices to expand functionality. Access control is migrating to management and recordkeeping and yielding more value for the end user. Physical security is linking with information technology (IT) and that means more substance out of every installed automated product. Internet protocol (IP) cameras are here and gradually becoming standardized. Look for IP access control (readers) to be the next up and comer.
These are just some of the trends gleaned from this exclusive interview with SD&I readers. For more check out the exclusive podcast posted at SecurityInfoWatch.com.
How is the scope of projects changing—from products to specs and more? What are you doing today that you weren't doing five years ago?
Cynthia Freschi , president, North American Video, Brick, N.J.: The trend toward integrating security and surveillance systems with related systems on a common control platform has really gained traction in the past few years. The operational benefits between simply interfacing systems and integrating systems are quite significant. This has greatly affected how systems are designed and deployed for converged network applications.
Alan Kruglak , senior vice president, Genesis Security Systems LLC, Germantown , Md. Kruglak is the president of National Security Integrators: There are two big changes in the scope of work. First, almost every new project today requires the use of IP video. The second biggest change is the integration with human resources (HR) and other systems. Clients with larger systems are demanding the integration of the security system with LDAP and Active Directory.
John Krumme CPP, president & chief executive officer, Cam- Dex Security Corp., Kansas City, Kan. and St. Louis. He is also secretary of SecurityNet : Five years ago we weren't working directly with IT managers. Today, every system has the involvement of the end-user's IT department. By using the end-user's network we are able to design a more robust system and enable more associates within the company to view.
Paul Owen, regional vice president, ADS Security L.P., Nashville and 2009 president-elect of the Tennessee Burglar and Fire Alarm Association. ADS operates a UL-listed, Five-Diamond central station: The IT person has really moved to the front of the line in terms of dealing with the end-user. They are protective of their network; and if we do want a network solution, we have to build our own.
Richard A. Penney, Viscom Systems Inc., Watertown , Mass. : We have noticed a process of close coordination in the bid and build process between security consultants, architects, general contractors, end users and the integrator on larger projects in particular. Security has moved from the end of the process to the front since the events of 9/11. As a result, the integrator's role of providing cost effective solutions and value engineering in a team environment has been the most significant change.
How are technological changes effecting who you deal with on a project?
Freschi : Security management is still the primary contact as these professionals have the expertise to establish security objectives. Depending on the nature of a project--new design-build versus upgrading an existing system—architects and engineers, builders, electrical contractors and other operations personnel may be involved in the process.
Kruglak : As the technology shifts more to integration with HR and AD, the role of the IT manager is increasing. For our clients, the security director is still calling the shots.
Krumme : Generally we are dealing directly with facilities management and IT managers. Security directors are involved with design. If a building owner is involved, they dictate their needs and push it down to their staff for implementation.
Owen: Technology driven solutions are now the norm. In the past, technicians were more low voltage wiring specialists and not much else. Now they require an extensive knowledge on computer systems in being able to do their jobs.
Penney: As we continue to provide our services to our customers we many times will deal with Security & Life Safety Group, Facilities and owners at the same time for one project were in the past it may have been only one of the departments or groups.
What have you seen in new technology that you like and may be able to use in the future?
Freschi : There are several trends that are quickly taking hold in the security and surveillance industry including the use of wireless networks, software driven control platforms with advanced analytics capabilities and new imaging technologies such as megapixel cameras.
Kruglak : The biggest trend in the technology arena is the development of megapixel cameras. The megapixel technology adds real value to both the integrator and the client.
Krumme : Video analytics provide a tremendous tool for tracking and creating alarm conditions for capturing video images.
Owen: Without a doubt, video verification will play a major role in our industry for years to come. Technology will help address the data flow from alarms, allowing emergency services to focus on their job.
Penney: There is significant progress being made in IP based and virtual video switching technologies. This will allow us to integrate legacy video equipment platforms and current video IP solutions.
What are the technologies you have used/adopted that have helped increase your profitability?
Freschi : Proven technologies and devices, such as digital video recorders ( DVRs ), day/night cameras and matrix switching systems. Also, software driven solutions and middleware make the integration process faster with graphical user interface (GUI)-based operating platforms. This will greatly reduce installation and training time, which increases profitability.
Kruglak : As a rule, we are very reluctant to integrate ‘new' technologies into our systems due to supportability and service issues. To ensure profitability, we have maintained our current technology standards rather than bring on new products. New products are only brought on when they are considered safe and supportable, or when a client requirement mandates its use.
Krumme : Internally we are working to improve our efficiencies by tracking our own people's use of time. Spreadsheet accountability has helped us become more efficient.
Owen: The advent of the new technology with the AlarmNet Services product (Honeywell Security & Custom Electronics) has been good for us. With the AMPS Sunset Clause issue being at the forefront, the AlarmNet Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) radio solution, designed specifically for digital wireless communication, has not only let us address this mandate but also given us a new package in terms of the residential market that allows us to bypass the whole phone line/voice over Internet protocol ( VOIP ) situation.
Penney: Advanced communication technologies have been a contributing factor in improving profitability and customer support for our organization.