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There’s no question that the popularity of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) security and home automation products is on the rise. The reasons for the growth in DIY sales are numerous, including increased awareness of home automation products, fast set-up, limited (if any) installation costs, and interoperability with other smart security products. In fact, with the parallel rise of smart home hubs like Alexa and Google Home, many people are opting to attempt the set-up of smart home devices without any professional assistance. According to a 2018 Residential Security Market Report prepared by Parks Associates and Security Sales & Integration magazine, “More than 60% of installing dealers now report that DIY systems are biting into demand for their services.” But the rise in DIY is not entirely bad news for security and home automation installers and dealers. There are a number of ways to view this glass as half-full. Let’s look at a few of them. Increase in revenue for dealers With their lower cost and perceived ease of installation, DIY products have broken down barriers for additional purchaseThere are reasons for dealers and installers to be cheerful about the rise of DIY. For one thing, according to that same Residential Security Market Report from Parks Associates, residential security dealers are doing quite well. The report states, “In 2017, revenues were up an average 7.72% for security dealers.” What about installations? The report goes on to say, “For 2017, the average number of installs per dealer was 22 per month, compared to 17 per month in 2016.” So, revenues are up for security dealers, and at least part of the reason can be attributed to the fact that DIY products can raise overall awareness of and spur interest in other home automation and security products. With their lower cost and perceived ease of installation, DIY products have actually broken down barriers for the additional purchase, and installation, of complete, professionally installed systems. Wireless, connected smart locks For example, the sale of wireless, connected smart locks (viewed by some consumers as DIY) can lead to opportunities for further home automation product sales and professional installations. Connected smart locks can actually act as an extension of a smart hub or controller. They can be used to wirelessly communicate with and control all the devices that make up a home automation system, including lighting, entertainment, thermostats, air, alarms, shades and more. With their lower cost and perceived ease of installation, DIY products have actually broken down barriers for new security installations And they can do all this from a prime, convenient location – the front door, as well as other points of entry like the side or back doors. Plus, smart lock conversion kits like Kwikset Convert let homeowners easily bring home automation capabilities to their door without altering the aesthetics of the entry. Connected smart locks can allow homeowners to set up their home with custom scenarios, right before they step inside. For example, residents can program their lock so that every time they unlock the door, a foyer light goes on, temperatures begin to rise to a set level – even connected coffee makers can begin to make a cup. Portfolio of home automation products One of the best ways to mitigate the ‘threat’ of DIY sales is for dealers and installers to become more versatileSmart locks are just one example of the potential of DIY products to spark a homeowner’s interest in a wide range of other home automation devices, many of which would benefit from professional installation. One of the best ways to mitigate the ‘threat’ of DIY sales is for dealers and installers to become more versatile and offer a complete portfolio of home automation products. The larger the home automation offering, the more devices there are to sell and install, the larger the installation required, the greater the need for professional installation. Many homeowners who feel like they have a certain level of handiness will start by trying to do it themselves with a DIY product. But things don’t always go as planned, especially if they are attempting to set up a robust home automation system. First off, just because a product is DIY doesn’t mean that the old products that are being replaced are going to easily make way for the new. A DIY thermostat or smart lock might require that the old equipment (and possibly wires) get tugged out of the wall. Messy holes might need to be filled. Advantages of professional installation Even after the old system has been removed, homeowners planning on setting up a connected system may soon realise they don’t have the electrical skills or technological know-how to install and connect all devices, get a system programmed correctly, and get everything up and running smoothly. Professional installers have learned from experience; there’s very little that they haven’t seen before. With their years of experience, installers know the best way to automate a home and how to create a custom smart home experience Do-it-yourselfers might be able to solve problems by searching the internet and finding videos. But, then again, they might not. After going the DIY route once, many full-home automation system enthusiasts are beginning to realise that the best way to get things done right the first time is to leave the installation and set-up to a professional. Professional installers can and should bring an extra level of experience and guidance to the process. Their services should go beyond tech installation and also include interface design. With their years of experience, installers know the best way to automate a home – how to create a custom smart home experience that doesn’t make the user feel less than smart. Selling additional home automation products If a problem arises due to installation error, the DIYer does not have any recourse to correct these mistakesResidential security dealers who offer professional installation should be willing to embrace the DIYer who has attempted to do a self-install but has not been able to complete the process successfully. With an open mind to this scenario, they can save the day for the DIYer, as well as create an opportunity to sell additional home automation equipment that the DIYer may not have known to be available. The disparity between DIY and professional installation also brings to light the fact that there are no ‘satisfaction guarantees’ and no ‘installation/labour warranty’ available when a home automation system is installed by a DIYer. If a problem arises with either the equipment connectivity due to installation error, or if a piece of equipment is installed incorrectly, the DIYer does not have any recourse to correct these mistakes. This may not be as critical if a DIYer installs a minor piece of equipment, but with something as critical as securing and protecting their home with a home automation and security system, most people want full peace of mind that everything has been installed correctly. Reduces connection instability According to a 2017 study by the analyst firm, IHS Markit, “The quality of the equipment is usually higher in professionally installed systems, and professional configuration and setup greatly reduces the potential for connection instability…” This is an issue that DIYers may come to realise over time. On the other hand, one issue DIYers may recognise right away, especially if they are attempting to connect multiple devices, is that the connectivity may be inconsistent. Professionally installed devices operating on a wireless protocol might deliver better, consistent, longer-range connectivity IHS Markit explains that, “DIY systems rely on open protocols and Wi-Fi connectivity that can sometimes be unreliable, creating connection issues. Some of the sensors can become unrecognisable to the system, requiring intervention from the user. In contrast, professional wireless systems rely on UL- or EN-certified equipment to operate on the basis of proprietary frequency, enabling them to work with the control panel much more seamlessly.” In other words, professionally installed devices operating on a wireless protocol, even an open-source protocol like Z-Wave, might deliver better, consistent, longer-range connectivity, and fewer headaches. Not everyone is a DIY customer There are customers who want someone to install the devices correctly and help them learn how to use and maintain themThere’s no doubt that there’s a segment of the security and home automation market that loves to spend their free time doing their own home improvement. They are watching videos, reading how-to books and manuals, and enjoying every minute. There’s also a segment of the market whose top goal is to save money up front. For these customers, there’s no getting around the joy of saving money with the lower cost of many DIY products. But there are also a great number of prospective customers out there for whom DIY is of absolutely no interest. These consumers do not want to be their own IT department. They want expert help: they want someone to install the devices correctly and help them learn how to use and maintain them. The IHS Markit study points out what many home automation dealers already know: that the elder and aging-in-place markets are an ideal destination for the security and convenience of home automation products. The study says, “Many senior citizens are not tech savvy enough to install a DIY system by themselves, so they tend to rely on professionally installed systems that are usually maintained by a family member.” Along with the senior citizens market, there are many other market segments out there that still desire worry-free professional installation. Installers should offer a range of products that includes some DIY products, and some leave-it-to-a-pro products Producing complete and custom solutions Perhaps the best way for dealers and installers to stave off that feeling of doom that they might have about DIY is to tackle the problem head on and be creative. Offer a range of products that includes some DIY products, and some leave-it-to-a-pro products – consider the DIY product a great entry point for a more comprehensive system. Play up the peace of mind that comes with professional installations and support that pitch with flexible monitoring contracts and service plans. Share what you do and why; relay your passion for producing complete and custom solutions and communicate how you add value to any and every sale. No one, not even the most tech-savvy consumer, wants to install their own products if the end result is that the product doesn’t work the way it should. That’s where the pros can, should and will always come into play.
The access control industry tends to be more conservative when it comes to the adoption of new technology and services for end users, but that doesn't mean that 2019 won't provide a significant amount of progress through emerging trends taking shape in the industry. In addition to the increased adoption and acceptance of the cloud, mobile credentials and biometrics are becoming more mainstream, and integrations between manufacturers will take centre stage. Here, we take a look at these and other trends helping to shape the coming year. Cloud-based products We're continuing to see a demand by end-user customers for customised responses to certain actions within an access control system For many access control manufacturers, the core of the business is in more traditional products, with a high percentage of installs continuing to be these kinds of projects. However, over the last couple of years, cloud-based products have emerged as a viable option for customers. We've seen more of a willingness for end-user customers to inquire whether this is an option for them, citing ease of use, remote management, cybersecurity and more as part of their foray into this branch of access control. The cloud has established its reputation as being quicker to install, more flexible for customers to access and manage both their access points as well as the video associated with these doors, and placing less pressure on internal (or in some cases, non-existent) IT teams to help set up and manage an access control system. Mobile credentials applications We're continuing to see a demand by end-user customers for customised responses to certain actions within an access control system. For example, if there's an alarm set off during the day along a perimeter, the ability to automatically execute a lockdown and simultaneous email or message to everyone within the building alerting them to the issue is critical. The desire for this kind of flexibility within a system is prompting manufacturers to build new simple to use graphical tools into their systems that allow customised action responses that are proportional to the level of alarm. There's a strong desire by many of today's companies to be able to use mobile phones for access control and as such, manufacturers are either developing their own mobile credentials applications or integrating their systems with these kinds of products. Over the last couple of years, cloud-based products have emerged as a viable option for customers Future of biometrics As companies start to ask about whether their facilities are safe enough, they're often more willing to consider access control that takes security to a new level, such as the implementation of biometric readers. Biometrics is getting more usage in professional security applications and many customers want to move away from using physical cards for access control. Manufacturers that don't currently have biometric hardware in place are starting to integrate with readers designed to offer this functionality in an effort to meet the demands of customers. The dramatic rise in facial recognition biometrics is something that will likely shape the future of biometrics as costs start to decrease. While the access control industry is highly fragmented, we're seeing a trend toward increased partnerships and open-platform technology that helps end users achieve the kind of comprehensive security that they desire. Video management platforms We're seeing a trend toward increased partnerships and open-platform technology that helps end users achieve the kind of comprehensive security that they desire For example, there are a number of access control providers that are providing paths toward full integration with lock manufacturers and vice versa in an effort to meet the needs of clients who may have purchased locks but a high powered access control system to properly manage them. There's also a large shift toward full integration with video management platforms and access control systems to fully integrate the two into a single, user-friendly experience and give end users more control over both. Additionally, manufacturers are looking to provide customers with a single system that meets the needs they have with regards to video, intrusion and access control. Right now, I don't think there's a system that can fully deliver on the promise of being exceptional at all three, so integrations and partnerships remain important to achieve that end goal. Access control world An increasing number of end users are realising the holes in the current Wiegand protocols that have been in place since the 1980s, along with the large number of ‘off the shelf’ equipment that's now available to allow outsiders access through readers that operate under these protocols. As a result, in the last decade or so, OSDP has come onto the scene and is growing in popularity. One of the most important steps for access control manufacturers in 2019 will be to listen to customers who are concerned with this vulnerability and work toward fully supporting OSDP in an effort to protect these access control systems. It's an exciting time to be a part of the access control world, as we finally see results from all of the hype centred around the cloud, biometrics, mobile credentials, hacking protection and strong partnerships come to fruition. As 2019 begins, look for these trends to grow in popularity and for manufacturers to really listen to the end-user customer they serve and respond in kind.
The extensive analysis and discussion preceding any decision to implement a new physical security solution – whether it’s hardware, software or a combination of both – often focuses on technology, ROI and effectiveness. When it comes to deciding what type of security entrances to install at your facility, you will almost certainly also consider the aesthetics of the product, along with throughput and, if you’re smart, you’ll also look into service concerns. Each of these factors has its important place within the evaluation process, and none should be overlooked as they all have a significant effect on how well your entrances will perform once they are installed. Culture influences door solution decisions How significant will the change from current entrances to security entrances be for employees? Still, one additional factor actually trumps everything: if you have not considered your organisation’s culture in choosing a security entrance, you may be missing the most important piece of the puzzle. Culture is a part of every other decision factor when selecting an entry solution. Before you make a decision about what type of entrance to deploy, you need to consider and understand the values, environment and personality of your organisation and personnel. For example, how significant will the change from current entrances to security entrances be for employees? If people are accustomed to simply walking through a standard swinging door with no access control, this will be a culture change. Beyond this, whether you are considering a type of turnstile, a security revolving door or possibly a mantrap portal, simply walking through it will be a significant change as well. Training employees on door security You’ll want to know whether employees have ever used security entrances before. If these types of entrances are in place in another part of the facility, or in a facility they’ve worked in at an earlier time, the adjustment will not be as great as if they’ve never used them at all. Consider, too, how your personnel typically react to changes like this in the organisation or at your facility. They may be quite adaptable, in which case there will be less work to do in advance to prepare them. However, the opposite may also be true, which will require you to take meaningful steps in order to achieve buy-in and train employees to properly use the new entrances. With the increased importance of workplace security, discussing new entrances with workforces will help maintain a safer environment Communicate through the decision-making process All of this will need to be communicated to your staff, of course. There are a number of ways to disseminate information without it appearing to come down as a dictate. Your personnel are a community, so news about changes should be shared rather than simply decreed. As part of this process, you’ll need to give some thought to the level of involvement you want for your staff in the decision-making process. Finally, do not overlook the special needs among your personnel population. You undoubtedly have older individuals on staff, as well as disabled persons and others who bring service animals to the office. Entrances need to be accessible to all, and you never want to be in the position of having a gap in accessibility pointed out to you by the individual who has been adversely affected. New security entrance installation By communicating early and often with your personnel, you can alleviate a great deal of the anxiety Once you have made the decision about which security entrances to install, training your personnel on how to use the new security entrances – both before and after the installation – will help to smooth the transition. Because workplace security is such a big issue right now, it makes sense to discuss the new entrances in the context of helping to maintain a safer environment. They will prevent violent individuals from entering, decrease theft, and most of all, promote greater peace of mind during the workday. If you can help them take control of their own safety in a responsible way, you have achieved much more than just a compliant workforce. By communicating early and often with your personnel, you can alleviate a great deal of the anxiety and concern that surrounds a significant change in the work environment. Schedule group meetings Consider your employees; what type of communications do they respond best to? A few suggestions to educate staff on the benefits of the new entrances include: Typically, you would communicate a general message 2-3 months in advance and then provide more specific information (for example, impacts to fire egress, using certain entrances during construction) in a follow up message closer to the installation date. Schedule group meetings to: announce the rationale for increased security, share statistics on crime, review the new security changes that are coming, show drawings/photos of the new doors/turnstiles, and show the orientation videos available from the manufacturer. These meetings are an excellent way to work through user questions and directly address any concerns. Once the installation of a new security system is complete, it is a good idea to have an "ambassador" on board to help employees use these new systems Ensure you monitor public areas If you are implementing a lot of new changes, such as a new access control system, new guard service and security entrances, you might consider hosting a ‘security fair’ on a given day and have the selected vendors come for a day with tabletop displays to meet employees and answer questions during their lunch. This could be a great way to break the ice in a large organisation. Make user orientation videos (provided by the manufacturer) available in several ways, for example: Intranet Site Monitors in public areas—lounges, cafeteria, hallways, etc. Send to all staff as email attachments Immediately after installation, once the doors or turnstiles are operational but before they are put into service, train ‘ambassadors’ on how to use the door/turnstile. Have these people monitor and assist employees during peak traffic times. What is the ultimate success of the installation? By communicating clearly and openly with your population you can greatly facilitate adoption and satisfaction If you have thousands of employees, consider dividing them into groups and introduce the new entrance to one group at a time (Group A on Monday, Group B on Tuesday, etc.) to allow a little extra orientation time. Place user education ‘quick steps’ posters next to the door/turnstiles for a few weeks to help employees remember the basic steps and guidelines, e.g., ‘stand in front of the turnstile, swipe badge, wait for green light, proceed.’ Ask your manufacturer to provide these or artwork. While there are always going to be people who are resistant to change, by communicating clearly and openly with your population you can greatly facilitate adoption and satisfaction. Your responsiveness to any issues and complaints that arise during and after the implementation is equally fundamental to the ultimate success of the installation.
Vicon Industries, Inc., designer and manufacturer of video surveillance and access control software, hardware and components brings a new level of convenience and simplicity to its VAX Access Control solution with today’s introduction of mobile credentialing. This new feature allows VAX customers to present their smartphones, instead of cards or fobs, to specialised Bluetooth-enabled VAX door readers. Smartphone and mobile credentialing Upon installation of a custom smartphone “wallet” app and a simple authentication process that links that app to the specific phone, users enter their personal VAX credentials into the wallet. Multiple credentials can be accommodated. No additional activation steps, such as entry of personal information or Bluetooth linking, are required. To unlock doors using the mobile credentials, users unlock their phone, access the credential within the wallet app and push the “unlock” button. Credentials are uniquely linked to each smartphone and cannot be shared or installed across multiple devices. Android and iOS devices are supported. Strong AES encryption, combined with smartphone PINs or biometrics, make the mobile credentials even more secure than traditional smart cards. Two models of contactless door readers are available; one requires immediate proximity (1.5 inches) and one with read range of up to 15 feet. The Bluetooth readers can also accommodate traditional RFID access cards, providing flexibility to administrators wishing to offer both types of solutions to employees. Access Control Bret McGowan, Vicon’s V.P. of Sales and Marketing, says, “Access control is as much about convenience as it is security. If a solution isn’t easy for customers to use, doors will remain propped open and the system can’t do its job. Our new mobile solution makes it possible for employees to always have their credentials with them, even when they’re not carrying a purse or wallet. It’s another way we are using cutting-edge technology to deliver ‘advanced simplicity’ to the security marketplace.”
Vicon Industries, Inc, designer and manufacturer of video surveillance and access control software, hardware and components, announces that its SN673V-B Cruiser PTZ Camera with 20X optical zoom and 1080p HD video has been deployed in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, as part of the Coastal Conservation League’s novel project, ‘The Pelicam.’ The Pelicam is a weather-resistant Vicon camera, mounted on a pole along with solar panels, battery back-up and a wireless transmission system, on an isolated strip of land within the harbor. Wray Lemke, Founder and Vice President of electronic and security services company Mount Pleasant Radio, volunteered his time to bring this project to fruition. Conservation league The Pelicam’s location is a popular spot for pelicans and other shore birds to build nests and raise their young because it is inaccessible to raccoons, coyotes and other natural predators. The Vicon camera’s 20X optical zoom provides close-up video of the birds, allowing biologist from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the public to witness behaviours that would not normally be observable by humans. Conservation League makes use of the camera’s presets to quickly change between scenes, live-streaming on YouTube video of the most interesting wildlife The Conservation League makes use of the camera’s presets to quickly change between scenes, live-streaming on YouTube video of the most interesting wildlife on display at any given time. Video recorded to the camera’s local SD card is available for DNR biologists to review and study. Andy Hollis, Data and GIS Analyst for the Conservation League, says, “The quality of the new camera is great. It pans and zooms exactly as it should and its high magnification gets us in really close.” Building public awareness In addition to supporting the research needs of the DNR, the Pelicam is hugely popular within the community, garnering regular coverage in the local media and receiving more web traffic than any other page within the organisation’s website. Mr. Hollis explains, “As an advocacy organization working with local and state level government to enact programs and laws to support conservation, the Pelicam is one of the most highly effective tools we have for building public awareness and enthusiasm for our mission.”
Vicon Industries, Inc., designer and manufacturer of video surveillance and access control software, hardware and components, announced the launch of Valerus 18.2, the latest version of its popular thin-client VMS solution built upon true open standards. New to this release are features that include: automated NVR failover, enhanced configuration options that include an enhanced rules engine that can respond to external events, tighter controls for system access authorisations and network-wide log collection and reporting. It also offers support for Valerus SmartAnalytics, a soon-to-be-released, tightly integrated video analytics solution that offers real-time event detection, video search and business intelligence applications. Valerus’ new NVR failover option allows administrators to create ‘failover clusters’ within the network, in which one or more NVRs are identified as dedicated failover units to support primary NVRs. Failover NVRs automatically take over for primary NVRs within their cluster, maintaining all camera and system settings until the original NVR is restored to operation. Playback of recorded video remains seamless, eliminating the need for operators to know exactly when failover occurred. Valerus automatically retrieves video from the NVR on which it resides. Valerus SmartAnalytics for event detection Valerus SmartAnalytics can analyse video from multiple sources in parallel and allows for complex detection scenarios that link detection rules from different cameras The addition of Valerus SmartAnalytics as an option for users of Valerus 18.2 brings powerful, integrated analytics capabilities to the VMS platform. The Valerus SmartAnalytics engine applies detection rules based on sophisticated AI algorithms to provide live action alerts, post-event search and business intelligence trend analysis. Valerus SmartAnalytics can analyse video from multiple sources in parallel and allows for complex detection scenarios that link detection rules from different cameras. Unlimited combinations of analytics detection rules can be applied to each camera. Events and search tools appear within the Valerus interface, providing a simplified experience for system operators. Both NVR failover and Valerus SmartAnalytics support are offered through a new ‘enterprise’ level Valerus licensing tier. The Valerus SmartAnalytics modules will be available to customers running Valerus Enterprise, version 18.2, beginning in early fall, 2018. Customers currently running Valerus Pro or Core level software can easily upgrade to Enterprise without the need for camera relicensing or hardware replacement. Improving security staff’s situational awareness In keeping with the Valerus commitment to delivering ‘advanced simplicity’, Valerus 18.2 offers a simplified but more powerful system configuration user interface. Administrators can now use the Valerus rules engine to create multi-step automated actions in response to events generated by external systems. Administrators must now actively provide each user with access to Valerus resources by assigning him or her to one or more ‘roles’ – Admin, Operator, Supervisor and/or Investigator For example, an integrated LPR system’s identification of a black listed vehicle can prompt Valerus to immediately call up relevant cameras and send a text alert to specified operators, improving security staff’s situational awareness and ability to respond quickly. The configuration interface now simplifies load balancing, making it easier to move cameras between NVRs, and provides additional navigation buttons for jumping between the device and resource screens. Enhanced security through authorisation system Valerus 18.2 offers enhanced security through an updated authorisation system. Administrators must now actively provide each user with access to Valerus resources by assigning him or her to one or more ‘roles’ – Admin, Operator, Supervisor and/or Investigator. Assigned roles determine which resources are available to each user upon logging in. For support and maintenance teams, a single request can now provide system-wide software logs from all devices, making it easier to troubleshoot. “Vicon’s Valerus VMS platform has proven to be hugely popular in enterprise applications, from citywide and statewide surveillance systems, to healthcare and education campuses, to the largest Cathedral in the world. We anticipate that the features we are introducing with Valeurs 18.2 will do much to further that trend,” said Bret McGowan, Senior V.P. of Sales and Marketing.
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