The security week that was: 05/16/08

Wrapping up at IFSEC

This week’s Security Week That Was recap column comes from a hotel in Birmingham, England, where the IFSEC tradeshow has wrapped up.

A few more notes from the last few days of the show:

Farpointe has some very nice readers out on the market. At the suggestion of Galaxy Control Systems' Rick Fournier (who was there to promote the company's new 600 IP-integrated access control system to UK partners and resellers), I made it by their booth to check out the technology. Hot on the stand was a vandal-proof proximity reader that has reportedly been tested by a reseller in Texas who fired an onslaught of firearms at the device and found that he couldn’t damage it. But far more interesting from the company is that they’ve managed to create a series of proximity card readers that use very little power. In today’s day and age, as we all recognize our carbon footprints and as we face rising energy costs, it is time that we consider the power draw of all the security devices that might be set up at a facility or a campus. It may be a small effect on overall building power consumption to go with readers that draw less power, but as we swap incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents, and as we get a little better about turning off lights in buildings when we leave, or recycling office print-outs, it’s part of an overall “green” trend that our industry will have to recognize and get behind. On a plus note, if you can draw less power from each reader and security device, you might recognize cost savings that could essentially pay for the equipment.

Xtralis, a product manufacturer in both fire and security, was here at the IFSEC show and is introducing new systems for video and access control. According to the staff, the company has synthesized the acquisition of the VSK Group, which was acquired by Xtralis in September 2007 for $49 million. VSK was a Belgian subsidiary of Allied Defense. This is clearly a company positioning itself to become a major player in fire and security. The company now has product lines in video (the ADPRO brand), access control, fire control (the PROACTIV and ICAM brands), fire detection (the VESDA brand) and even traffic detection (the ASIM brand of solutions).

I visited BT Redcare to see the product that the company was recognized for in the IFSEC product awards. At their stand was a little system that is actually from Cylon Systems (known for policing product in the UK, apparently). It’s a camera that’s worn on a headband and which connects via cable to a miniature DVR. The video seemed good; the headband seemed comfortable and secure enough to wear while running after a suspect. Overall, it was a nice addition to a security chief’s tool of tricks. One thing that would step up this product immensely is if it could push live video back to a security control center via wireless. Maybe next year, right?

Milestone Systems had good news to report at the show. The video management software company told that they’ve now certified over 1,000 partners, including over 450 partners on their XProtect Corporate platform (which has only been out since last fall). That increasing number of certified partners is surely a sign of the times in IP video.

Gert van Iperen, executive vice president of security systems globally for Bosch, lead a press conference during the show, and as was to be expected, part of the program was to tout the new IP video standards partnership that the company has entered in with Axis and Sony. If you’re in Europe and want to follow this, the framework that the companies are jointly working on is to be released in October at the “Essen” security tradeshow in Germany. Bosch’s senior product manager for IP video worldwide Dieter Joeker said the goal is device interoperability for all IP products.

“We don’t think we have to reinvent the wheel,” added Joeker, implying that work on IP video communications standards is already happening from a number of fronts. What these three companies want to do is to latch onto the good standards that exist or are being developed and to build in standards and a framework where they don’t. I checked with a couple video management software providers who are in this space and they are all watching this closely. For their engineers it would be a god-send. Rather than having to add tweaks to their products to ensure they can work with the sundry product manufacturers IP cams, it would actually mean that they could make their system compatible with a standard like the one Bosch, Axis and Sony are developing, and then any camera vendor that complied with that standard would automatically work with their IP video management software.

Speaking of video management software, I caught up with Oren Feldman from EVT at the IFSEC show, and got an update on the company’s technology. They’re fully in market now, partnered well with companies like ioimage and distributors like Controlware, and still improving the software. Feldman noted that the EVT system was developed based on surveys of what users needed in terms of features, rather than developed around a single technology innovation made by a software engineer. The goal with the company’s software is to make a full, robust system that is also an easy system to to train the security staff on. The company seems acutely aware that once the product is sold, it’s not in the hands of integrators or software developers – rather, it’s being used by often underpaid and undertrained security officers manning control rooms. That’s why Feldman says the company is focused on making the system as easy to operate as possible. Incidentally, did you know that EVT is a five year old company that produced Linux-based DVRs before it moved into the software business? I didn’t, but it demonstrates the necessary ability to reinvent yourself in today’s changing market.

Well, that wraps up IFSEC; it’s time to catch a train, a bus, a plane and a car and get back to the U.S. Thanks for following our coverage of IFSEC. You can find our news coverage at our IFSEC 2008 page and photos and brief notes in my blog, The Security Check.