Change Remains the Constant: The View from the 2005 ISC West Expo

From locksets to intelligent video, curiosity and a love of technology continue to drive our industry


The SecurityInfoWatch.com and Cygnus Security Group team made its way through ISC West 2005 today and all-in-all, I'd say that everyone's been pretty impressed. If you've not yet made it to an ISC West show, especially if you're a security dealer or integrator, you need to plan on attending one in the future. From the international pavilions (China, Korea and more), you get a look into what's happening overseas, and then, of course, there are the recognizable U.S. and European players here that you've known for years.

In my travels, I was able to visit with quite a few vendors' booths, which - because it's ISC West - unfortunately only represents a half of 1 percent of all the booths here. But I focused on making it a good industry cross-view, to look at traditional equipment like power supplies (Altronix) to high-tech systems that feature software added to computer chips that are in turn worked directly inside a camera (ObjectVideo).

One of the things that kept coming up was how much the language of security is changing. Not being a programmer myself, I've had to learn the language of SDKs and APIs and firmware-vs.-software-vs.-hardware and open system design and a whole lot more. The world of security is changing and it's going to take some effort if you really want to stay on top of today's newest technologies.

As you've certainly read on this website and heard in Security Technology & Design, the winds of change are pushing more IP- addressable systems into your field of vision. Panels to control access control readers are plugged in via the IP network now. Video gets distributed across the world through IP-networkable video servers and now, even our good old standby of CCTV is becoming "intelligent."

Whether it's deciding what event to send to the monitoring staff, or cameras like Panasonic's new SDIII system that can automatically track objects and refocus themselves if it's shooting in B&W versus color, or software like that from Verint that can take enterprise video from "pipe dream" to reality, today's solutions are more high-tech than ever. At some points, if you're doing a booth crawl on the ISC West floor like I did today, you wish you could pull an IT expert out of your back pocket to serve as a translator.

And while new technology continues to push into new directions and challenge us to learn how to understand the technology that our industry is encouraged to install, sell, buy and use, as you walk ISC West, it's also clear that this industry is keeping its core and building upon itself.

Around the corner from our booth (#15141 in case your at ISC West), some guys were competing on how fast they could install some fire notification equipment. These are the same guys who then, having attached a strobe to a system in what could have been a record time, made their way over to a software-enabled video system.

Please pardon the tired old expression, but the more things change, the more things stay the same. We simply have to learn another skillset without forgetting the skills we already know. When electronic access control came out, mechanical locksets didn't go away. When biometrics popped up, PIN and card access stuck around. And now that it's IP- addressable, network-connectable, and Ethernet-routed, we're simply having to learn a whole new set of skills.

And as an industry marked by its curiosity with new technology, the learning experience promises to hold a lot of surprises and a lot of very cool twists and turns. Just like it always has.