Security Industry Vendor-Neutral State of Technology

Dec. 11, 2014
Providing vendor-neutral state of technology information is challenging

Q:    I’m a recently-graduated IT network specialist. How can I obtain vendor-neutral information about networked physical security systems?

A:    Until recently that would have been a difficult task. However, the Security Industry Association (SIA) has stepped up to the plate by launching a semi-annual electronic publication: SIA Technology Insights—which should now be considered required reading based upon the increasing rate of technology change.

In earlier decades, you could almost always find a recently-written book about access control or security video or alarm systems and other technologies that would present an accurate picture of the technology capabilities along with recent innovations. You could utilize such reference material for at least five years, and then keep yourself updated by trade show attendance every few years. For at least the past 6 years, that has no longer been the case.

Technology Rate of Change

The rate of technology change today proceeds at an astounding pace, and the rate of change keeps increasing.  Hard drive capacity and cost (see Figure 1) make a good visual representation of the general rate of change trends across all aspects of computing and networking technology. The price erosion for hard disk storage over the years is startling: according to, the average cost per gigabyte fell from $437,500 in 1980 to $0.05 in 2013. As can be seen in Figure 1, during the ten-year period from 1996 to 2006, the maximum capacity of hard drives jumped from 1 GB to 500 GB. In the following one year, it jumped that much again—while the cost per gigabyte fell by nearly 50%.

Computing power and network capacity trends show similar graphs (see Figures 2 and 3). Wired communication speeds have increased 10,000-fold in the past three decades, and computer processing power has increased over 30,000 times in the same time period.

All three trends have the combined effect of significantly lowering the cost of security video deployments while at the same time significantly increasing their quality and capacity capabilities.

When 10 years’ worth of technology change can occur in a single year, and when the annual rate of change keeps increasing continuously every year, annual technology updates are no longer sufficient. Because vendor promotional materials rarely provide a cross-industry perspective, even though they are plentiful they can’t suffice for general educational purposes.

SIA Technology Insights

This is where the value of SIA Technology Insights journals comes into play ( Two issues have been published to date, providing over 100 pages of vendor-neutral information about security technologies that end-users can use to update their security technology thinking. Be warned in advance that the journal’s visual presentation rivals that of the best vendor promotional materials that I have seen—so don’t let that sway you into regarding the content as any kind of hype or fluff. These articles are not stories about product features. They are instead realistic presentations about current technology capabilities. A lot of work has gone into these journals. Although some of the material is technically detailed, the material is explained well enough that readers will achieve clarity of understanding that is not commonly obtained from other materials.

In particular, SIA Technology Insights should be helpful for anyone—especially IT personnel not familiar with physical security technology—who wants to get up to speed on the range of industry technology applications and stay updated, which can be done by means of the journal’s semi-annual issues.

Write to Ray about this column at [email protected]. Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. For more information about Ray Bernard and RBCS go to or call 949-831-6788. Mr. Bernard is also a member of the Content Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council ( Follow Ray on Twitter: @RayBernardRBCS

About the Author

Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III

Ray Bernard, PSP CHS-III, is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (, a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. He has been a frequent contributor to Security Business, SecurityInfoWatch and STE magazine for decades. He is the author of the Elsevier book Security Technology Convergence Insights, available on Amazon. Mr. Bernard is an active member of the ASIS member councils for Physical Security and IT Security, and is a member of the Subject Matter Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council (

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Follow him on Twitter: @RayBernardRBCS.