Q&A: Bosch's Leon Chlimper on the Future of the Security Industry

What's the new picture of the security industry for 2006? SecurityInfoWatch.com caught up with Bosch Security's Vice President of Systems Leon Chlimper to answer that question. Chlimper was in prime position to answer, having recently presented at the SecureWorld Expo series, a traveling road show co-sponsored by Security Technology & Design magazine with a convergence track that brings together IT managers and physical security directors to share their concerns. After giving Chlimper time to collect his impressions following the show, SIW editor Geoff Kohl caught up with him for an interview about the state of the industry for 2006. Here's what Bosch Security's Leon Chlimper had to say…

In December you made it to the SecureWorld Expo series. What were some of the lessons from that show in Dallas?

I saw that there is a lot of exchange of information that needs to take place. From a manufacturing standpoint, we still have a lot to learn. We see that the big IT managers are not usually open to sharing their information. They are very protective of their networks, and we as security professionals have to prove ourselves to them.

One of the big misconceptions is that we still present software as a desktop application. We think our software is just to run our hardware, but they see new software as a network concern and ask, "How do you test your software for reliability?" If you come from an IT world, just the ability to talk to the related hardware doesn't mean reliability. For the IT community, it's not just about plug-and-play; our software has to meet their standards of reliability of how it affects their network.

We're also hearing that software will be on servers, not PCs. And then the challenge becomes an IT one: How do you manage that information that is on the server? On the same note, I think that everybody is moving to edge intelligence. The further on the edge you put the intelligence, the more reliable the system becomes. If you have a problem, you just lose that device, not the string of sensors. So, as a whole, that's where the move is going, but issues like standards have to come first.

Besides the technology changes, what else is changing that is making the IT community and the physical security community change?

From a conceptual standpoint, what's happening is that the changes are being driven by the business management systems world. We are becoming part of the business system and have to be a part of it now. For example, we have used proprietary cabling systems for years. But now that we're part of the business network, we can't be using proprietary cabling.

How do you sum up the problem of standardization that is facing manufacturers today?

It's a question: How do you make sure that your systems connect, but not lose your niche? We know we are not going to be able to interconnect everything, but we are seeking conduits to develop integration into other manufacturers' products. We're working on and with batch standards; we're looking at interconnectivity using the OPC connectivity standards.

Much of this discussion gets down to the role that integration will play. How is that role changing?

There are so many things going on. We have to ask, who ends up using physical security? Most customers are small and are just now beginning to adopt physical security technologies, but they're adopting them as business tools. These companies for the most part are not network centric. The change, therefore, has to come in the enterprises – in hospitals, in the multinational companies – where the network is the backbone of that company. The integrators are the ones that can pass along to them a sense of security – they are the ones that go in to understand these customers' needs.

What's one of the biggest challenge facing small systems integration firms or dealer companies that are moving into the "systems"-type installs?

Many small systems integration or dealer companies are not able to hire an IT guy. So they know the security technology, but they need an IT guy to work with the client since the client wants to talk about how it affects the network, so they subcontract to an IT guy. But then the problem is that the subcontracted IT guy does not know the product. He knows the network, but he doesn't know the physical security products. If I put a networking guy in front of a bank, is that guy capable of not only understanding the bank's network, but also understanding what a bank needs in terms of security and integration? Again, the role of the integrators is changing, as much as we the manufacturers are changing.

One of the challenges in our industry is that guys are out there putting this technology on the network and installing software and they often don't have the training. Dealers of today will be relegated only to basic commercial and residential if they don't get the IT training. Just because you know a computer doesn't mean you know the difference between a route and a switch. It's very important that people in our industry know what they don't know.

What does the change in security technology mean for the guard services industry?

It's happening today and it's happening throughout the whole industry. Instead of four guards in the past, maybe we now have two. What I think is happening is that technology is a means to better the ability of the guards. If an alarm is going off on a pumping station in the middle of nowhere, security and sensor technologies can tell you what's happening out there. Then you can analyze what you do, and then the guard becomes the response team rather than just serving as a human sensor.

Are we going to eliminate the guard? No. With today's technologies, guards are going to be required to be more technology savvy. They are going to be equipped with more technology, and they are going to be more adept at using technologically coordinated responses.

Leon, to close up this interview and to think about 2006 and beyond, what are your predictions for how the IT world will change physical security?

-- Number one is intelligence at the edge.

-- Secondly, I think we'll see a changing and higher use of smart card technology.

-- We'll see the creation of software that is not just for physical security, but it becomes software that allows other business uses.

-- Fourth, the IT world is going to run anything to do with software and data storage.

-- The physical security will remain in charge of the hardware.

-- Finally, I think we're going to see a single "box" at the edge that does everything – it's fully intelligent, and you can plug in anything you want and use the intelligence algorithms on that sensor.