Audio Integration: Security—A Three Legged Stool

Sept. 10, 2012
Audio, listen in and speak, adds value to security systems, but is often forgotten in the sale.

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of SD&I magazine

Recently I’ve been speaking about and sharing with security integrators, a concept of what I call the “Three Legged Security Stool.” One leg is for access control, the second is for video and the third— voice audio. Access control can be thought of as the brains of a security system by holding data and permissions. It serves as the arms and hands of the system; it can either keep someone out or invite them in.

With the advent of IP video, you can remotely position a set of eyes anywhere you can place an IP camera on a network. With a video management system, you can see what is happening and make a decision on how to respond. However, you respond by dispatching someone to address and handle what you see. By the time someone responds, i.e., a security guard for example, the event may be over or the people gone. You are simply left with a record of the event.

Audio adds interactivity

When you add the audio leg to those two other legs of security, you now become fully interactive. You can talk and listen to the person you see on your video system no matter where the location or how remote. If the person is lost or simply needs assistance, you can talk to them and provide reassurance. On the other hand, if they have ill intent, you can now interact and, as one colleague put it, deploy verbal judo. The norm is once someone hears a voice and they know they’re being watched, they’ll stop and will leave the scene.

An ideal example of this would be in the UK. They deploy more security cameras than anyplace in the world. However, the increase in installing more video cameras has not had much of an effect on deterring crime. Now they are deploying “talking cameras,” adding the important element of voice to the security mix. Once they see something that requires immediate action, all they have to do is push a button and talk. This added voice audio modifies human behavior reducing crime and violence.

Any area that an integrator has installed an access control point or deployed an IP camera, you should ask yourself, “Is this a location we need to add the mouth and ears of security too?” With voice over IP (VoIP) stations now capable of 10 watts of power over standard POE and 105db, you can start looking at locations where you needed separate components before. When it comes to selling voice communications, we find the biggest hurdle is the sales person. They have become so programmed to selling only access control and video tied together that they fail to add the audio component that adds tremendous value for the client.

I have encouraged people to secure the sale they are familiar with, that being access control and video systems. Once that sale is complete, simply ask the client “what are you using for audio?” That one question opens up an entire new dialog and allows the VAR to enhance the end user’s system and provide, as we mentioned before, a brain, arms, hands, eyes and, of course, mouth and ears of security. And with IP audio systems needing only an end point device, it is easier than ever to add value in a business model as well as take care of the best interest of our customers.

From a business stand point, if a VAR stopped selling access control they would simply go out of business. The same would be true if they stopped selling video. If they don’t provide voice as part of their security package, they are unconsciously doing that same thing every single day. This is one way a VAR can easily grow their business by asking that one simple question and adding that critical audio leg to the security mix.