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Demand increases for specialist IT skills among security system integrators
Demand increases for specialist IT skills among security system integrators

How can security system integrators not just survive but thrive in today’s IT-led market? The key seems to be in training. As increasingly more clients look to integrate access control with IT environments, they want integrators with the specialist skills to achieve this. For integrators that don’t invest in training, the risk is being left behind. Because many security system integrators aren’t providing specialist IT support, manufacturers are now offering services to make implementations and integrations easier. This isn’t a scalable or desirable option for many manufacturers though, they don’t want to become integrators. The result? Manufacturers will be pushed into developing products that can be integrated with IT networks off the shelf. And this isn’t necessarily the best option for end user, manufacturer or integrator. With a growing number of cloud-based security solutions, integrators also face the threat of clients opting for installation-only services. How security system integrators can survive and thrive today It’s not all doom and gloom for security system integrators though. To avoid becoming redundant, or being downgraded to simple access control installers, there’s lots you can do to strengthen your position. Listen carefully Many integrators are reluctant to do this, but it’s a great way to demonstrate the depth of your experienceOne of the first ways you can distinguish yourself from your competitors is by really listening to what your clients want and need. You can then translate this into a security or access control application tailored carefully to them. Many integrators are reluctant to do this, but it’s a great way to demonstrate the depth of your experience and product knowledge. It’s far superior to carrying out a standard implementation, which can leave clients feeling they’ve not been listened to or given good value. Up your IT knowledge TCP/IP has become the standard for communication between devices and central server applications in access control and security in general. So every technician now needs to know how to connect IP devices to networks and configure them in the central application. This is only the tip of the iceberg though, there’s so much more that integrators now need to be proficient in when it comes to IT. From understanding a client’s WAN, LAN and VPN networks to back-up systems, encryption technologies, key management and transparent communication. It’s also important to know how to integrate applications at server level, whether you’re integrating two or more security systems or a HR database. Most integrators have begun to invest in one or two IT experts, but this usually isn’t enough to meet clients’ needs. To really stay ahead, it’s crucial to invest more heavily in IT training and expertise. Choose your portfolio carefully When considering your portfolio, ensure you check the background of each product’s manufacturer Ideally, your portfolio should be small but rich, which is more difficult than it sounds. Choosing products that will scale easily is complex, and you need to consider the potential for increased functionality or connectivity as well as scalability. When considering your portfolio, make sure you check the background and outlook of each product’s manufacturer. You don’t want to select items that are likely to be discontinued in the near future, which can often happen after a manufacturer is acquired, for example. Get in the cloud In the security market, the mid and low segments are already shifting to cloud-based solutions that need neither integration nor IT skills. This leaves you with opportunities for just installation and maintenance services, where profit opportunities are reduced. An alternative is to begin selling cloud-based security services yourself to help you attract and retain clients for the long-term. Give clients added commercial value As competition increases and budgets shrink, offering added value, to new and existing clients, is a vital way to differentiate your business. This will help you to not just defend against competitors but to grow your business and increase your profitability. Configuring access control reports for clients is just one example. It’s relatively straightforward to do but provides really valuable insight into visitor flow. This can then enable them to, for example, staff reception adequately and provide sufficient catering, which all improves the experience for visitors and employees. Providing this kind of consultative service, instantly pushes you up the value chain. Stay agile and well informed To survive and grow as a security system integrator today, the upshot is that it’s crucial to keep pace with the market’s ever-changing trends, technology and client needs. And, to make sure you’re ready to adapt and give clients the services they want, it’s vital to give your people the in-depth training they need.

Blending physical security with convenience is no simple task
Blending physical security with convenience is no simple task

Back in the 1960s a lead engineer working in conjunction with the United States Navy for Lockheed’s Skunk Works team coined the acronym KISS, which translated to the design principle ‘keep it simple stupid’.  The KISS principle embraces the concept of simplicity, stating that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than geared up to be more complicated. When it comes to physical security systems, this concept can also play a key element in its overall success. Secure work environments For years the tug of war in the security industry has pitted the need for a secure environment against the desire for technology that is convenient for users. However, finding a happy medium between the two has often seemed elusive. I believe you can design and have operational convenience at the same time as achieving high security" Jeff Spivey, a security consultant and the CEO of Security Risk Management, has this to say about it, “If there is an understanding of the security-related risks and their separate and/or collective impact on the organisation’s bottom line business goals, a resolution can be reached.” Jeff also does not think that convenience and high security have to be opposing each other. He says, “I believe you can design and have operational convenience at the same time as achieving high security.” Importance of secure access control The premise is that for organisations and spaces to be truly secure, they must be difficult to access. So, by its very nature, access control is designed to be restrictive, allowing only authorised staff and visitors to access a facility or other secured areas inside. This immediately puts convenience at odds with security. Most people will tolerate the restrictive nature of a controlled entrance using badge, card or biometric because they understand the need for security. When that technology gets in the way of staff traversing freely throughout the facility during the course of a business day, or hindering potential visitors or vendors from a positive experience entering the building, they become less tolerant, which often leads to negative feedback to the security staff. Enhancing corporate security Security consultants like Spivey and security directors all stress that understanding the threats and risk levels of an organisation will most likely dictate its physical security infrastructure and approach. All the technology in the world is useless if it is not embraced by those who are expected to use it and it doesn’t fit the culture of the organisation. Once employees and customers are educated about what security really is, they understand that they're not losing convenience, they're gaining freedom to move safely from point A to point B. Converged data and information shape new access options Migration of physical access control systems to a more network-centric platform is a game-changer for security technologies The migration of physical access control systems to a more network-centric platform has been a game-changer for emerging security technology options. The expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), Near-Field Communication devices powered by Bluetooth technology, and the explosion of converged information systems and identity management tools that are now driving access control are making it easier than ever before for employees and visitors to apply for clearance, permissions and credentials. Wireless and proximity readers Advancements in high-performance wireless and proximity readers have enhanced the user’s access experience when presenting credentials at an entry and expediting movement throughout a facility. A user is now able to access a secured office from street-level without ever touching a key or card. Using a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or triggering a facial recognition technology, they enter the building through a security revolving door or turnstile. A total building automation approach adds extra convenience, as well as seamless security, when access technology is integrated into other systems like elevator controls. A total building automation approach adds extra convenience and seamless security How to Meet Security Concerns at the Entry While security managers are charged with providing their facilities the maximum level of security possible, there is always the human element to consider. But does the effort to make people comfortable with their security system ecosystem come at a cost? Does all this convenience and the drive to deliver a positive security experience reduce an organisation’s overall levels of security? And if so, how can we continue to deliver the same positive experience including speed of entry – while improving risk mitigation and threat prevention? Door entrances, barriers Users can slip through the door or turnstile barriers while they are still open after a credentialed individual has gone through Let’s examine some of the various types of entrances being used at most facilities and the security properties of each. With some entrance types, there is the possibility for security to fall short of its intended goals in a way that can’t be addressed by access control technology alone. In particular, with many types of doors and barriers, tailgating is possible: users can slip through the door or turnstile barriers while they are still open after a credentialed individual has gone through. To address this, many organisations hire security officers to supervise the entry. While this can help to reduce tailgating, it has been demonstrated that officers are not immune to social engineering and can often be “talked into” letting an unauthorised person into a facility. Deploying video cameras, sensors Some organisations have deployed video surveillance cameras or sensors to help identify tailgaters after the fact or a door left open for longer than rules allow. This approach is not uncommon where facilities have attempted to optimise throughput and maintain a positive experience for staff and visitors. Security staff monitoring the video feeds can alert management so that action can be taken – but this is at best a reactive solution. It does not keep the unauthorised persons from entering, and so is not a totally secure solution. Optical turnstiles, speedgates Security staff should carefully evaluate its facility’s needs and consider the technology that is built into the door itself Security staff should carefully evaluate its facility’s needs and consider the technology that is built into the door itself. Not all security entrances work the same way. And, there will always be a balance between security and convenience – the more secure the entry, the less convenient it is for your personnel and visitors to enter your facility. For example, it takes more time to provide 2-factor authentication and enter through a mantrap portal than to provide only one credential and enter through an optical turnstile or speedgate. Perimeter protection So, it is an important first step to determine what is right at every entrance point within and around the perimeter. Remember that convenience does not equate to throughput. Convenience is the ease and speed of entry experienced by each individual crossing that threshold, while throughput relates to the speed at which many individuals can gain access to the facility. A more convenient entry makes a better first impression on visitors and is good for overall employee morale. Throughput is more functional; employees need to get logged in to begin their workday (and often to clock in to get paid), and they quickly become frustrated and dissatisfied when waiting in a long line to enter or exit the premises. Considering form and function when designing a security entrance can ensure that those requiring both high-security and convenience are appeased.

Home monitoring at the edge: Advanced security in the hands of consumers
Home monitoring at the edge: Advanced security in the hands of consumers

Imagine a home surveillance camera monitoring an elderly parent and anticipating potential concerns while respecting their privacy. Imagine another camera predicting a home burglary based on suspicious behaviors, allowing time to notify the homeowner who can in turn notify the police before the event occurs—or an entire network of cameras working together to keep an eye on neighborhood safety. Artificial Intelligence vision chips A new gen of AI vision chips are pushing advanced capabilities such as behavior analysis and higher-level security There's a new generation of artificial intelligence (AI) vision chips that are pushing advanced capabilities such as behavior analysis and higher-level security to the edge (directly on devices) for a customisable user experience—one that rivals the abilities of the consumer electronics devices we use every day. Once considered nothing more than “the eyes” of a security system, home monitoring cameras of 2020 will leverage AI-vision processors for high-performance computer vision at low power consumption and affordable cost—at the edge—for greater privacy and ease of use as well as to enable behavior analysis for predictive and preemptive monitoring. Advanced home monitoring cameras With this shift, camera makers and home monitoring service providers alike will be able to develop new edge-based use cases for home monitoring and enable consumers to customise devices to meet their individual needs. The result will be increased user engagement with home monitoring devices—mirroring that of cellphones and smart watches and creating an overlap between the home monitoring and consumer electronics markets. A quick step back reminds us that accomplishing these goals would have been cost prohibitive just a couple of years ago. Face recognition, behavior analysis, intelligent analytics, and decision-making at this level were extremely expensive to perform in the cloud. Additionally, the lag time associated with sending data to faraway servers for decoding and then processing made it impossible to achieve real-time results. Cloud-based home security devices The constraints of cloud processing certainly have not held the industry back, however. Home monitoring, a market just seven years young, has become a ubiquitous category of home security and home monitoring devices. Consumers can choose to install a single camera or doorbell that sends alerts to their phone, a family of devices and a monthly manufacturer’s plan, or a high-end professional monitoring solution. While the majority of these devices do indeed rely on the cloud for processing, camera makers have been pushing for edge-based processing since around 2016. For them, the benefit has always been clear: the opportunity to perform intelligent analytics processing in real-time on the device. But until now, the balance between computer vision performance and power consumption was lacking and camera companies weren’t able to make the leap. So instead, they have focused on improving designs and the cloud-centric model has prevailed. Hybrid security systems Even with improvements, false alerts result in unnecessary notifications and video recording Even with improvements, false alerts (like tree branches swaying in the wind or cats walking past a front door) result in unnecessary notifications and video recording— cameras remain active which, in the case of battery powered cameras, means using up valuable battery life. Hybrid models do exist. Typically, they provide rudimentary motion detection on the camera itself and then send video to the cloud for decoding and analysis to suppress false alerts. Hybrids provide higher-level results for things like people and cars, but their approach comes at a cost for both the consumer and the manufacturer. Advanced cloud analytics Advanced cloud analytics are more expensive than newly possible edge-based alternatives, and consumers have to pay for subscriptions. In addition, because of processing delays and other issues, things like rain or lighting changes (or even bugs on the camera) can still trigger unnecessary alerts. And the more alerts a user receives, the more they tend to ignore them—there are simply too many. In fact, it is estimated that users only pay attention to 5% of their notifications. This means that when a package is stolen or a car is burglarised, users often miss the real-time notification—only to find out about the incident after the fact. All of this will soon change with AI-based behavior analysis, predictive security, and real-time meaningful alerts. Predictive monitoring while safeguarding user privacy These days, consumers are putting more emphasis on privacy and have legitimate concerns about being recorded while in their homes. Soon, with AI advancements at the chip level, families will be able to select user apps that provide monitoring without the need to stream video to a company server, or they’ll have access to apps that record activity but obscure faces. Devices will have the ability to only send alerts according to specific criteria. If, for example, an elderly parent being monitored seems particularly unsteady one day or seems especially inactive, an application could alert the responsible family member and suggest that they check in. By analysing the elderly parent’s behavior, the application could also predict a potential fall and trigger an audio alert for the person and also the family. AI-based behavior analysis Ability to analyse massive amounts of data locally and identify trends is a key advantage of AI at the edge The ability to analyse massive amounts of data locally and identify trends or perform searches is a key advantage of AI at the edge, for both individuals and neighborhoods. For example, an individual might be curious as to what animal is wreaking havoc in their backyard every night. In this case, they could download a “small animal detector” app to their camera which would trigger an alert when a critter enters their yard. The animal could be scared off via an alarm and—armed with video proof—animal control would have useful data for setting a trap. Edge cameras A newly emerging category of “neighborhood watch” applications is already connecting neighbors for significantly improved monitoring and safety. As edge cameras become more commonplace, this category will become increasingly effective. The idea is that if, for example, one neighbor captures a package thief, and then the entire network of neighbors will receive a notification and a synopsis video showing the theft. Or if, say, there is a rash of car break-ins and one neighbor captures video of a red sedan casing their home around the time of a recent incident, an AI vision-based camera could be queried for helpful information: Residential monitoring and security The camera could be asked for a summary of the dates and times that it has recorded that particular red car. A case could be made if incident times match those of the vehicle’s recent appearances in the neighborhood. Even better, if that particular red car was to reappear and seems (by AI behavior analysis) to be suspicious, alerts could be sent proactively to networked residents and police could be notified immediately. Home monitoring in 2020 will bring positive change for users when it comes to monitoring and security, but it will also bring some fun. Consumers will, for example, be able to download apps that do things like monitor pet activity. They might query their device for a summary of their pet’s “unusual activity” and then use those clips to create cute, shareable videos. Who doesn’t love a video of a dog dragging a toilet paper roll around the house? AI at the Edge for home access control Home access control via biometrics is one of many new edge-based use cases that will bring convenience to home monitoring Home access control via biometrics is one of many new edge-based use cases that will bring convenience to home monitoring, and it’s an application that is expected to take off soon. With smart biometrics, cameras will be able to recognise residents and then unlock their smart front door locks automatically if desired, eliminating the need for keys. And if, for example, an unauthorised person tries to trick the system by presenting a photograph of a registered family member’s face, the camera could use “3D liveness detection” to spot the fake and deny access. With these and other advances, professional monitoring service providers will have the opportunity to bring a new generation of access control panels to market. Leveraging computer vision and deep neural networks Ultimately, what camera makers strive for is customer engagement and customer loyalty. These new use cases—thanks to AI at the edge—will make home monitoring devices more useful and more engaging to consumers. Leveraging computer vision and deep neural networks, new cameras will be able to filter out and block false alerts, predict incidents, and send real-time notifications only when there is something that the consumer is truly interested in seeing. AI and computer vision at the edge will enable a new generation of cameras that provide not only a higher level of security but that will fundamentally change the way consumers rely on and interact with their home monitoring devices.

Latest Interlogix news

Feenics welcomes Yannis Souris and Chris Smith to its Ottawa headquarters to address continued growth
Feenics welcomes Yannis Souris and Chris Smith to its Ottawa headquarters to address continued growth

Feenics Inc., an award-winning provider of the Access Control as a Service (ACaaS) Keep by Feenics cloud-hosted platform, has added two new team members to its Ottawa headquarters. Yannis Souris has been appointed Marketing Manager and Chris Smith takes on the role of Regional Sales Manager for the Northeast, as the company continues to address its ongoing fast growth in the cloud-hosted access control market. Souris is a seasoned marketing professional with 20 years of experience in digital marketing programs, brand management and e-Commerce platforms. His marketing, advertising and creative work has garnered Souris considerable recognition—earning more than 200 local, national and international awards. Cloud-hosted platform Chris Smith is a results-oriented professional with nearly a decade of experience managing a national territory At Feenics, Souris will work closely with top management to continue to communicate the Feenics story of the efficiencies of a cloud-hosted platform—focusing on social media, media outreach and internal and external marketing programs. Prior to joining Feenics, Souris was Digital Marketing Director for Knowland Courses and Workshops in Ottawa. New Regional Sales Manager for the Northeast, Chris Smith is a results-oriented professional with nearly a decade of experience managing a national territory, focusing on the implementation of effective strategies to increase sales and grow the customer base. Most recently he was Regional Sales Manager for Interlogix, where he managed and developed the dealer channel, attaining leading sales results. His other achievements include: 2018 Top Rising Talent Award; Employee of the Quarter Q1 2018; and Top 10% in sales quota achievement. Assist in critical initiatives “As we continue to grow, adding important team members will assist in our critical initiatives and messaging,” said Paul DiPeso, Executive Vice President of Feenics. “With these two hires, we bring new and exciting marketing expertise and deep sales experience to the Feenics organisation.” Keep by Feenics gives users the choice of on-site servers or offsite cloud deployment Feenics continues to fortify its position as an ACaaS market leader, recently certified as an International Organisation for Standardisation ISO 9001:2015 company. To address global growth, Feenics opened an office in the Middle East and since has added other management and sales team members to solidify its market expansion. Feenics is the maker of Keep, a cloud-hosted platform that provides extreme scalability, unprecedented flexibility and advanced security in ACaaS applications. Native visitor management It integrates native visitor management and a RESTful API that allows systems installers simple integration of a wide array of complementary systems and open hardware devices, generating new revenue streams while creating a path for customers to lower their total cost of system ownership. Keep by Feenics gives users the choice of on-site servers or offsite cloud deployment, hosted by the public cloud Amazon Web Services. Keep significantly minimises costs through simple, maintenance-free and automatic upgrades, patches, disaster recovery and back up.

Interlogix plans to dismantle its businesses in the United States and Canada by the end of the year
Interlogix plans to dismantle its businesses in the United States and Canada by the end of the year

Interlogix, a division of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, announces a plan to dismantle its businesses in the United States and Canada by the end of the year. Here is a statement from the company: “After a thorough portfolio review of our security business, we have communicated our plans to wind down our Interlogix U.S. and Canada businesses. This decision will allow us to focus on the significant growth opportunities for our other fire and security businesses, including LenelS2.” Fire detection and life safety Dealers can continue to purchase, install, register, and service Interlogix products with complete confidence" Interlogix products will be manufactured and orders fulfilled through 2019 and will be available for purchase from distributors and dealers during ‘a well-coordinated transition period,’ according to the company. “We will continue to provide customer support related to product technical services, timely fulfilment and comprehensive product warranty into 2020 and beyond,” says the company statement “Dealers can continue to purchase, install, register, and service Interlogix products with complete confidence.” Interlogix represents a full product line including intrusion detection, video surveillance, fire detection and life safety, access control and security/fire data transmission products. Enhanced video streaming capabilities Interlogix was created in the merger in 2000 of ITI Technologies and SLC Technologies. It was purchased by General Electric in 2002 and later renamed GE Security. United Technologies Corp. (UTC) bought the security business of General Electric in 2010 and reverted back to using the Interlogix brand. Last year, Interlogix introduced TruVision Navigator version 8.0 of its unified security software Last year, Interlogix introduced TruVision Navigator version 8.0 of its popular unified security software, including enhanced video streaming capabilities, integration with the Interlogix UltraSync Modular Hub systems and tighter integration with IFS networking switches. Voice-controlled digital devices Early this year, Interlogix reinvested in its UL-listed, professional-grade, security panel lineup and added two touchscreen controls. In addition, it began providing access to more device integrations – such as sensors, lights, locks, thermostats and garage door controls, video doorbell cameras and voice-controlled digital devices, among others. In the spring, the company re-launched its Interlogix Security Pro program, a national channel partner program offering Interlogix dealers an array of resources and incentives designed to help them successfully grow their businesses.

Winners of Electronic Security Expo 2019 Innovation Awards announced
Winners of Electronic Security Expo 2019 Innovation Awards announced

The winning products and services of the 2019 Innovation Awards were revealed at ESX 2019 on June 4 in Indianapolis. Each year, the ESX Innovation Awards programme recognises outstanding products and services that drive the electronic security and life safety industry forward. This year’s winners continue that legacy with novel innovations and improvements. To determine the best of the best, judges selected winners from a pool of applications from manufacturers and service providers serving the industry with innovative end-user offerings and tools that help dealers, integrators and monitoring professionals become more efficient and profitable. Category winners were as follows: Access control pdqSMART+, Grade 1 Cylindrical Lock by PDQ Industries Enterprise Access Control by Alarm.com OmniAssure Touch by Honeywell Commercial automation / control systems / networking TruProtect™ Integrated Security Solution by Interlogix Dealer services QuoteAnywhere G2.0 – Mobile Sales Quote & Sign Platform by WeSuite CSR Readiness PRO by CSR Privacy Solutions, Inc. Digital health / well-being systems Essence 3D Sense Fall Detector by Essence Smart Care Fire / life safety DynamixSmoke by Advanced Honeywell Home SiXCOMBO Two-Way Wireless Smoke/Heat and Carbon Monoxide Detector by Resideo Installation / service tools fireNspec by PnewSoft, LLC. System Surveyor by System Surveyor Intrusion systems BX Shield Outdoor Boundary PIR Series by Optex, Inc. IQ Panel 2 Plus by Qolsys 1122 Wireless (PIR) Motion Detector by DMP - Digital Monitoring Products BAT-Connect Communicator by Alula Mobile apps for consumers Honeywell Total Connect VISTA Partitions by Resideo Video Verification App by DICE Corporation Smart Signal by Alarm.com Monitoring station CHeKT Visual Verification Bridge by CHeKT Specialty products & services WattBox 150 IP Power Outlets with OvrC (1 controlled bank, 2 outlets) by SnapAV Video surveillance SecureCom Video NVR™ by DMP - Digital Monitoring Products Thermal-Optical DeepinView Turret Camera DS-2TD1217-3/V1 by Hikvision USA Umbo AICamera by Umbo Computer Vision DuraVisionDX0211 by EIZO Inc. Umbo Light by Umbo Computer Vision Next-gen products Judges from across the country were invited to provide their expert opinions  The winners selected are recognised as next-gen products and services that offer significant opportunities for growth. Judges from across the country were invited to provide their expert opinions based on thorough criteria. This year’s judges were: Rodger Reiswig, Johnson Controls (Florida); Grady Medcalf, Spectrum (Colorado); Michele Monheim, Amherst Alarm (Upstate New York); Steven E. Paley, Rapid Security Solutions (Florida) and Adam Thompson, Wired-Up Systems (Arizona). Criteria of judging Entrants to the Innovation Awards program were judged on: features and functions, innovation, end-user experience, ability to solve a problem, revenue growth potential, impact on company efficiencies and compliance with regulations. These metrics provided a rubric that determined the most innovative and exceptional products and services in the industry. Winners of the Innovation Awards were featured in the ESX Innovation Awards Showcase in Booth 615 during live expo hours.

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