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Security system implementation: "bleeding edge" versus leading edge security technologies
The choice of the right security technology is one of the primary considerations for implementation or upgrade of a video surveillance system or other security system. Industry professionals making this critical decision often have to choose between a ‘bleeding edge’ technology, i.e. one that is in its infancy but offers great potential, and a leading edge proven technology. In this article, Stephen Malia - Vice President of Engineering Services and Marketing at North American Video (NAV), shares some key factors to consider before embracing bleeding edge technology.

The term bleeding edge technology refers to experimental or prototype security technologies that are not yet fully developed. It is associated with a greater degree of risk from issues such as undiscovered problems, compatibility and so on. Unlike bleeding edge technology, leading edge technology implies a relatively new but proven product that is revolutionary in comparison to other products.

Today’s bleeding edge technology ultimately becomes the leading edge technology of the future. However, bleeding edge technology is not always chosen for upgrades to a video surveillance or security system. Though the benefits may be great, with new levels of performance and overall effectiveness, bleeding edge technology solutions may also be prone to unexpected bugs and problems.

Making the choice between an innovative or unknown technology with great potential and a technology that is proven is a dilemma that will continue as the security industry advances into the future. A better understanding of the terminology, the different stages of the technology cycle and following the traditional methods of technology evaluation and adoption can help in making the right choices. The following are some key steps to help in making informed decisions on implementing the best security technologies for your application.

Objective of the security system

Take the time to articulate the problem of the existing system and how the new technology can accomplish the objective. Evaluate control and/or cost-saving benefits and other clear and measurable benefits that are not available from existing security systems or other available state-of-the-art technology.

Due diligence on products and vendors

Unlike "bleeding edge" technology, leading edge technology implies a relatively new but proven product that is revolutionary in comparison to other products

A good place to start looking for new technology is at trade shows where security product manufacturers showcase their technology expertise with displays of prototype products featuring cutting edge technology. Note however that in many cases, the product solution on exhibit may not yet have been tested in a beta environment and it is necessary to follow up with engineering to confirm final specifications and capabilities. Simply trusting that the equipment will meet original specifications can consequently be both a financial and safety risk. Testimonials and recommendations from end users should be provided by the manufacturer to help verify information about the product. In addition, references should also be provided to confirm the reliability of the manufacturer – especially if the company is a start-up or new to the security industry.

Deployment resources

If the new technology under consideration requires dedicated networks, equipment or staffing, it is important to establish which other internal resources or personnel must be brought on board. Other basic changes like electrical may also be necessary and they should be investigated and decided upon early in the process. Proprietary technology requires more effort and time to deploy than a standards-based solution, as well as impacting downtime and the resources required to manage the deployment. It is necessary to have a clear understanding of who has overall control of the deployment – the user, the systems integrator or the manufacturer.

Investments in new technology require serious consideration of the security system’s flexibility and scalability

Ease of use

When security technology shifted from analog to digital, several new providers entered the market and brought with them products that may have been modified for use in the security industry. It’s relevant to know if the product under consideration was developed for the market by industry experts or if it’s just a good idea looking for a home. Management should also review the ability of their staff to work with the new technology to determine if redeployment or staff additions are needed, as well as timeframe and level of training required for operation of the new product/system.

Flexibility / scalability / maintenance

Investments in new technology require serious consideration of the security system’s flexibility, scalability and maintenance. Many factors like size limitations, number of devices, changes or additions to the system and long term service and support issues need to be addressed and answered. For instance, if in-house security personnel and/or technical staff will be relied upon to troubleshoot problems, they will be pulled away from their regular duties. It is important in this case to determine if the system can be remotely serviced and what other options are available.

System integrator role

End users should look to their system integrator partners for information and guidance before deciding on new technology. System integrators have the expertise to design, procure and install video surveillance and security systems, whether these are tried and true solutions or those that include bleeding edge technology. 

In the final analysis, it’s not so much the technology that’s important – it is the customer needs and the best solution to meet those needs.

Stephen Malia Stephen Malia
Vice President Engineering Services & Marketing
North American Video
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