Hello “interoperability.”

Earlier this week I attended ADT's Technology & Convergence Forum, which was held at their flagship North American monitoring center in Aurora, Colorado. I found the forum very informative and one initial observation I would like to share happens to deal with a prediction that was made by Jamie Haenggi, ADT's vice president of worldwide marketing, when she stated that "convergence" will no longer be the security industry's buzzword in 2007. According to her, the new buzzword will be "interoperability."

I actually hope that prediction pans out because "interoperability" does get closer to the heart of the matter. It's great to talk about "convergence," but more importantly we need to put the focus on why convergence is happening. At the end of the day, convergence is all about return on investment (both from a security and a financial standpoint); and a big reason for this return on investment is the interoperability offered by the convergence of IT and physical security.

For example, take Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled cameras. Yes, they are cool because they hook up to an IP network and can be viewed remotely from any computer connected to the Internet. But another key component to an IP-enabled camera is that it follows a universal protocol shared by all IP cameras. Going forward, it shouldn't matter who makes the IP-enabled camera (or IP-enabled DVR for that matter), they should be "interoperable" on any IP network. This gives security personnel more flexibility in designing, maintaining, and upgrading CCTV systems--and this is only one of many examples of interoperability.

In access control, we're also starting to see a push toward interoperability, especially with HSPD-12 signed into law by President Bush which calls for the standardization of ID cards for all federal employees. These ID cards will be used for access to both physical locations and logical data. Theoretically, such ID cards will be able to increase security and reduce costs for the government. In Corporate America, some companies are already migrating toward such interoperable ID cards.

So there you have it from Haenggi and other top ADT experts. The security industry's new buzzword and concept to look out for in 2007 is "interoperability." Time will tell!