What’s the Buzz for 2009?

Physical security and IT convergence
Fragmented, siloed and proprietary—is the industry permanently tethered to these words?
Time will tell. Driving the move to converged physical security is the access control sector, particularly the Department of Homeland Security’s Physical Access Control Systems. The Internet and IP-based video and other products operating on the network are further fueling integration.

Tyco’s Peter Boriskin said regulations like the Transportation Workers Identification Credentials and Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-12 and others are causing integration in the access control market to take off.

Boriskin, vice president of Product Development for Tyco Access Control Video Systems in Lexington, Mass., said the end-user realizes far-reaching benefits from integration. “The more they can automate, the lower their costs. This is especially important as companies tighten their belts. There’s value in integration,” he said.
Integrators are embracing convergence, Boriskin said, adding skill sets that include network topology, data mining expertise and building intelligence to get more out of video and physical security.

Seeing and believing
Companies like Tech Systems, Duluth, Ga., are participating in more convergence in the field, according to Wayne Smith, vice president of Network and Professional Services. Tech Systems is a Physical Security Authorized Technology Provider from Cisco®.

“Integration and convergence is beginning to move along quicker with network compliance in place and lower operating costs for solutions,” Smith said. “Users don’t want to be limited by geography and they can deploy IP and remote managed solutions globally,” he said.

Certainly, progress hangs in the balance.

“Real integration is still in its infancy,” said Richard A. Deer, chief executive officer, Magellan Integration Inc., Evansville, Ind. Deer said it’s not a single idea, application or device having the greatest impact on the state of physical security and IT convergence.
“It is this wide variety of knowledge and experience that has ‘pooled up’ in fragmented forms. Pools of knowledge have developed in narrow areas within the IT space, the physical security space and areas like strategic management and the like. Whoever ‘connects’ the dots between organizational needs and the innovations by our industry will drive this thing home,” he said.
According to Derek Brink, CISSP and vice president and research fellow, IT Security, Aberdeen Group, Boston, the main problem with logical/physical security convergence opportunities is the sheer number of them.

“Aberdeen’s research has shown that through their emerging capabilities in the area of security governance and risk management, companies are taking proactive steps in security and compliance controls. A consistent, enterprise-wide view of security risk–integrating both physical security and IT security–is a sensible element of this overarching strategy,” he said.

Brink said using a single device (smart card or other token) is one common starting point, a positive step to the greater vision of IT access, building access, photo ID and even inter-organizational trust housed within a single converged “container.”

“But issuing devices is merely the tip of the iceberg. Logical and physical identities must also be correlated at the management level,” he said.

Siloed systems
The notion of siloed systems still hangs heavy over the industry. “There needs to be a concerted effort to develop open protocols,” said John Frazzini, president of Behavioral Recognition Systems (BRS Labs) Inc., Houston. “We are beginning to be able to correlate what’s happening logically with what’s happening physically,” he said. “Before analytics and intelligence, we couldn’t take 1,000 cameras and know what they were doing. Now we can take that intelligence and import it into a converged security application,” he said.

The IT and the physical security groups are two distinct entities, which also has resulted in slower adoption of some technologies. “The IT side of the industry has been quite aware of the concept of convergence, especially in logical and physical access,” Frazzini continued. “From an operational standpoint, compared to the technology sector and the sophistication of cyber crimes, physical security was viewed as very primitive. Its information was not seen as credible. Now, it’s understood physical security can be tied to logical data systems,” he said.

Monitoring Response & the Central Station
The days of monitoring openings and closings only are over. Thanks to technology there are many ways for central stations to generate recurring revenue from alarm breaches, supervisory and other signals, moving these firms into the role of critical data and building intelligence centers.

Central stations are becoming more of an information hub, driven by technology and other ways of connecting with subscribers electronically, according to Morgan Hertel, vice president, The Command Center Inc., Corona, Calif. The UL-listed Command Center was created in 1990 by several independent alarm companies who remain as dealers today.
“During one month we sent over 40,000 e-mail and text messages, while three years ago we were not sending any,” said Hertel. “Today we monitor the health of over 400 computers, network switches, phone systems and other IP-based devices and services connected to our automation systems. None of this was happening two to three years ago,” he said.

Central stations continue to evolve into critical response centers, offering personal emergency monitoring devices, according to Troy Iverson, vice president of Sales and Marketing, AvantGuard Monitoring Centers, Ogden, Utah.

“Often times, lives literally hang in the balance of our operators, so it has become increasingly important to have state-of-the-art systems on the technological and operations side,” Iverson said.  “Technology has also enabled us to increase the efficiency in which we verify alarms.  From feedback we know that as technology has increased, false dispatches have decreased,” he said.  

The Command Center’s Hertel said central stations that choose to embrace technology will find “a lot of green fields” out there. “For those centrals that are not interested, I think the gentleman from Cisco said it best at  ISC West  two years ago--’lead, follow or get out of the way, because they are coming right at this market,’” Hertel said.

Future Shock: Your Distributor 2038
Where will we be 30 years from now in product distribution?
Here’s what two national companies had to say:

ADI’s vice president of Marketing Randy Teague confirmed that network bandwidth, processing power and digital storage will increase enormously in capability.
“In addition, mobile video applications will become common due to advances in wireless and cost – not only in applications like law enforcement or mass transit but in some automobile applications. Communications will expand to all mobile devices including cell phones, PDA’s, media players and more,” Teague said. “Biometrics will be widely used as the industry settles on one or two techniques that will become highly reliable, near zero false negatives and positives, and balance any privacy concerns,” he said.

Tony Sorrentino, vice president of Sales, ScanSource Security, Greenville, S.C., said the next 30 years in distribution will be significant. “Manufacturers will rely more heavily upon the efficiencies of distribution to service a larger percentage of their dealer base,” Sorrentino said. “Value-added distributors will play a key role by providing education, training, technical support, financing and logistics. As security products move to the network and new products are introduced at a faster pace, staying current on the latest product information will be even more important to the integrator,” he said.

Building Bridges
Avocado Security, Fairfax, Va., feels it has come up with a solution—the software-as-a-service provider has developed an application program interface or API that represents the “true convergence of security and IT,” said Kevin Shahbazi, chief executive officer (CEO). “This is how you build the bridge.”
Shahbazi said the challenge in integration has been that there are “islands of information and no one product talks to another and this has become a huge bottleneck to convergence.” He believes the solution is in the software the company has developed that is in essence a process to automate all the functions of business intelligence a customer wants into meaningful data.
The Avocado platform is embedded with numerous APIs to communicate with all these proprietary and legacy video surveillance security products. The software is agnostic to the type of camera, DVR or other device, Shahbazi added. “Using existing cameras, we convert security images to graphs, charts and meaningful business intelligence metrics,” he said.

The Role of Wireless in Response
Wireless and mesh networks are clearly playing an important role in the development of early warning response services. Broadband wireless and its routing reliability has increased significantly, further propelling its use at the central station, according to Paul Gassett, director of Worldwide Marketing Communications, Azalea Networks, Milpitas, Calif.
“It is now possible to monitor with accuracy, reliability and consistency, places previously ‘out of bounds’ when it came to video surveillance due to challenges in running fiber to the camera as well as video quality,” Gassett said. Azalea Network’s solution includes patented video packet transmission technology and jitter-free video quality with minimum frame loss, another critical requirement for wireless video surveillance applications in the central station.

Trend Watch: Centralized Back Up
Central stations are moving to smaller localized Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) solutions for system redundancy. If the only UPS is a large central one, a failure will take down the entire security system. With the expansion of security systems to include applications such as access control, perimeter detection, cargo container X-ray and remote security we have seen the need for UPS products installed near the security system. These UPS products may need to be ruggedized to operate in harsh outdoor environments and start with a plastic, composite, aluminum, steel or even stainless steel outdoor rated (NEMA 3R) enclosure. The UPS should be able to operate in -40 to +40 degrees and be tough enough to operate in dusty environments and withstand shocks and vibrations. The batteries, to operate effectively in cold temperatures, need heater mats and possible balancers to monitor and regulate the strength of each cell. Expect the future to bring easier system integration--surveillance cameras with connections and cables designed to receive power from a UPS; compact solutions; advanced communications such as WiFi; new battery technologies like lithium-ion; and renewable energy power sources such as solar.
– Audey Korpus, marketing manager, Alpha Technologies Ltd., Burnaby, Can.

Alarms Ring Truer
SD&I went to the Security Industry Alarm Coalition’s, Stan Martin, executive director, for  an update on alarm response.
Q. What’s the current state of the industry regarding false alarms, alarm response and verified response? 
A. “Unnecessary alarm dispatches continue their downward trend. We have seen a nearly 70 percent reduction in the alarm dispatch rate. Where we once saw an average of three dispatches per system per year, overall we are now at less than one dispatch per system per year (for residential, once every four years).  This is an incredible reduction given the fact that alarm installations more than doubled from about 18 million to over 38 million!
Q. What do you think the future of central station monitoring service holds?
A. “We will continue to see alternative means of verification pick up in acceptance. There is a lot of energy around video verification and though we do not believe it should be mandated for a police dispatch we do believe the technology is well suited to help cops catch bad guys. SIAC will pursue an ordinance option that may allow police to upgrade the alarm response priority if criminal activity is determined from video, an enticing option for all parties.”