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The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has made us all more conscious of who is coming and going from our property. Whether it is a family home, business premises or public building, property owners want full control over access for protection and peace of mind. As a provider of access control technologies, we are seeing a growing demand for automated gates with a variety of access control systems. There are a number of considerations that buyers need to make when investing. And as an installer, there is advice that you can offer to help your clients make the right choice for their property. Here are some of the key considerations you’ll need to make and discuss with your client. Whomever you buy from, you should be offered more than a simple instruction manual. Electronic locks, magnetic locks and code security In the first instance, you’ll need to advise on the type of lock and access control available. Electronic locks release on the operation of the automation system to allow the gates to open. Locks are required for all non-locking (also known as reversible) operators and are recommended for any gate on a multi-user site or any gate over 2.5m. Apply the same logic to an automated gate as you would to a domestic door – for example, you wouldn’t fit your front door with a lock on the same side as the hinges or a drop bolt at the hinge end of a manual gate so why dispense with this logic when the gate is automated? Electronic locks release on the operation of the automation system to allow the gates to open There are a number of locks on the market including magnetic locks, drop locks that “shoot” a bolt into the ground and side latching locks. These are all designed for external use. While the gate itself will provide physical security, the customer will want to feel in control of who enters their property, when and for what purpose. Consider access for post and deliveries, waste disposal and visitors arriving on foot etc. There is a range of options available. Intercom systems will allow the user to vet visitors, keypad entry can allow remote access for visitors with a specific code, remote controls allow an oncoming driver to open the gates without getting out of the vehicle, and a timer control can be used to open or close the gates at certain times of the day. Vehicle detection loops can be installed discreetly under the tarmac allowing the presence of vehicles to exit the gates and prevent closing whilst obstructed. Sliding gates versus swinging gates There are a number of locks on the market including magnetic locks, drop locks that “shoot” a bolt into the ground and side latching locks Gates can be automated to either swing or to slide open and in the case of swinging gates, the opener may be concealed underground or gate mounted. The most suitable opener for your installation will depend on the space available and the type of gate selected. Concealed underground automation is ideal for highly ornate gates. However, where gates are fully infilled (typical of many timber designs), gate mounted openers are concealed from the front of the gate by the gate leaf and present a cost-effective option. The choice between slide and swing is largely down to space - swing gates require a clear space for their opening arc whilst sliding gates require space to one or both sides of the gate. Sliding gates are perhaps the best choice where the drive slopes or when drive space is limited, as they use the least space when opening. Voltage Most swing gate and sliding systems are available in 24v or 230v. The 24v systems still need 230v mains power – there is a transformer built into the 24v control panels. Deciding which voltage to use can include a combination of factors such as the material of the gates, the location of the system and the safety features you want. Concealed underground automation is ideal for highly ornate gates With wrought iron gates, the wind can pass through them whereas with fully boarded wooden gates (popular because they give full privacy) the wind has nowhere to go, so they act like sails. For commercial or industrial applications with larger entrances and a heavy gate, you may need 3 Phase 400v power (sliding gates only). Installing gate motors in confined spaces The environment in which you are fitting may well influence which gate and motor you recommend. Will it be in an exposed area which is subject to the elements? Will it be positioned on a slope? Sliding gates are perhaps the best choice where the drive slopes or when drive space is limited Installers have always faced the challenge of installing gate motors in confined spaces. When fitting a pedestrian gate, there is often limited space in which to work – potentially making an installation time consuming and technically demanding. If this is the case for you, consider a gate operator which is designed specifically for installations with limited space for manoeuvre. An example of this is the E5 compact gate operator. The operator is not only small but has an optional slide lever attachment designed for installations where there is extremely limited space, meaning that just 8cm of the pillar is needed for installation. What’s more, improved fixing points and a simple ‘hook and fasten’ process means assembly is safe, quick and straight forward. Ultimately, you’ll be looking for a good quality, reliable product with good service. Work with a supplier that offers more than just a manual. If they are happy to offer training, their time and advice when you buy, the chances are you’ll get their support long term.
The safeguarding of premises through the monitoring of entrance and exit points has traditionally been a very manual aspect of security. Human operators have been relied on to make decisions about who to admit and deny based on levels of authorisation and the appropriate credentials. But the access control business, like many industries before it, is undergoing its own digital transformation; one where the protection of premises, assets and people is increasingly delivered by interconnected systems utilising IoT devices and cloud infrastructure to offer greater levels of security and protection. Modern access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification, right through to complex networks of thermal cameras, audio speakers and sensors. These systems, connected through the cloud, can be customised and scaled to meet the precise requirements of today’s customer. And it’s the ease of cloud integration, combined with open technologies and platforms that is encouraging increasing collaboration and exciting developments while rendering legacy systems largely unfit for purpose. Remote management and advanced diagnostics Cloud technology and IoT connectivity means remote management and advanced diagnostics form an integral part of every security solution.Cloud technology and IoT connectivity means remote management and advanced diagnostics form an integral part of every security solution. For example, as the world faces an unprecedented challenge and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruption, the ability to monitor and manage access to sites remotely is a welcome advantage for security teams who might otherwise have to check premises in person and risk breaking social distancing regulations. The benefits of not physically having to be on site extend to the locations within which these technologies can be utilised. As an example, within a critical infrastructure energy project, access can be granted remotely for maintenance on hard to reach locations. Advanced diagnostics can also play a part in such a scenario. When access control is integrated with video surveillance and IP audio, real-time monitoring of access points can identify possible trespassers with automated audio messages used to deter illegal access and making any dangers clear. And with video surveillance in the mix, high quality footage can be provided to authorities with real-time evidence of a crime in progress. Comprehensive protection in retail Within the retail industry, autonomous, cashier-less stores are already growing in popularity The use of connected technologies for advanced protection extends to many forward-looking applications. Within the retail industry, autonomous, cashier-less stores are already growing in popularity. Customers are able to use mobile technology to self-scan their chosen products and make payments, all from using a dedicated app. From an access control and security perspective, connected doors can be controlled to protect staff and monitor shopper movement. Remote management includes tasks such as rolling out firmware updates or restarting door controllers, with push notifications sent immediately to security personnel in the event of a breach or a door left open. Remote monitoring access control in storage In the storage facility space, this too can now be entirely run through the cloud with remote monitoring of access control and surveillance providing a secure and streamlined service. There is much to gain from automating the customer journey, where storage lockers are selected online and, following payment, customers are granted access. Through an app the customer can share their access with others, check event logs, and activate notifications. With traditional padlocks the sharing of access is not as practical, and it’s not easy for managers to keep a record of storage locker access. Online doors and locks enable monitoring capabilities and heightened security for both operators and customers. The elimination of manual tasks, in both scenarios, represents cost savings. When doors are connected to the cloud, their geographical location is rendered largely irrelevant. Online doors and locks enable monitoring capabilities and heightened security for both operators and customers They become IoT devices which are fully integrated and remotely programmable from anywhere, at any time. This creates a powerful advantage for the managers of these environments, making it possible to report on the status of a whole chain of stores, or to monitor access to numerous storage facilities, using the intelligence that the technology provides from the data it collects. Open platforms power continuous innovation All of these examples rely on open technology to make it possible, allowing developers and technology providers to avoid the pitfalls that come with the use of proprietary systems. The limitations of such systems have meant that the ideas, designs and concepts of the few have stifled the creativity and potential of the many, holding back innovation and letting the solutions become tired and their application predictable. Proprietary systems have meant that solution providers have been unable to meet their customers’ requirements until the latest upgrade becomes available or a new solution is rolled out. This use of open technology enables a system that allows for collaboration, the sharing of ideas and for the creation of partnerships to produce ground-breaking new applications of technology. Open systems demonstrate a confidence in a vendor’s own solutions and a willingness to share and encourage others to innovate and to facilitate joint learning. An example of the dynamic use of open technology is Axis’ physical access control hardware, which enables partners to develop their own cloud-based software for control and analysis of access points, all the while building and expanding on Axis’ technology platform. Modern access control solutions range from simple card readers to two factor authentication systems using video surveillance as a secondary means of identification Opportunities for growth Open hardware, systems and platforms create opportunities for smaller and younger companies to participate and compete, giving them a good starting point, and some leverage within the industry when building and improving upon existing, proven technologies. This is important for the evolution and continual relevance of the physical security industry in a digitally enabled world. Through increased collaboration across technology platforms, and utilising the full range of possibilities afforded by the cloud environment, the manufacturers, vendors and installers of today’s IP enabled access control systems can continue to create smart solutions to meet the ever-changing demands and requirements of their customers across industry.
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 National Security Inspectorate (NSI), the UK’s independent certification body specialising in the security and fire safety sectors, shared in the success of this year’s IFSEC and FIREX exhibitions as the integrated events proved important forums for approved companies and applicants, as well as key industry stakeholders, to engage face-to-face with NSI experts. The three-day events provided a vital opportunity to raise awareness of the valuable role of independent certification in enhancing the performance and operational effectiveness across the sectors. NSI’s continued support for the Show Me How feature was evident with a series of sessions on the NSI stand. The topics included updates on PD 6662 for the installation of alarm systems, the new Kitchen Fire Protection Systems scheme (SP206), NSI’s CCTV Code of Practice NCP104 and the latest modifications to the SIA Approved Contractor Scheme workbook. Importance of using trained risk assessors NSI Chief Executive Richard Jenkins presented the heat winners’ prizes at the end of the final day in the Keynote ArenaNSI’s Head of Field Operations (Systems), John Davidson spoke at FIREX to a packed theatre on the importance of using competent, trained risk assessors to complete life safety fire risk assessments. Once again, NSI auditors judged the work of teams competing in the Engineers of Tomorrow Competition, a key attraction within IFSEC International. This year the competition not only showcased the skills and talent of apprentices, but laid the foundations for becoming a part of the highly respected World Skills competition. NSI Chief Executive Richard Jenkins presented the heat winners’ prizes at the end of the final day in the Keynote Arena. The heat winners on day three were Matt Eminson and Ryan Harker from Chubb (Intruder Alarm competition) and Callum Tootle and Chris Lomax from EFT Systems (Fire competition). Coming together to enhance public security Independent certification is recognised as an important framework for continual improvement for businesses" Richard Jenkins NSI Chief Executive commented: “Once again IFSEC and FIREX exemplified the benefits of industry coming together to enhance public security. Our stand welcomed a considerable number of enquiries from companies interested in engaging with NSI’s highly trained team of experts. “Independent certification is recognised as an important framework for continual improvement for businesses; one we are pleased to spearhead within the security and fire safety sectors. We employ the most highly trained professionals who help to drive up the performance of businesses of all sizes as part of the assessment for approval. “It was inspiring to see so many NSI approved companies attend this year’s event and we were proud to play our part in helping to shine a spotlight on new talent within the sector. It was also a pleasure to welcome so many invited guests to our VIP drinks reception celebrating our collective commitment to raising standards.”
AMG Systems has been commissioned to help digitise the traffic monitoring system for newly-extended hard shoulder bus lanes on Belfast’s main motorways, to make it more efficient, secure and reliable. A new IP-based CCTV system was being installed as part of the extension project, so the underlying fibre network needed to be upgraded in order to handle the high-grade images being transmitted back to the city’s Traffic Information and Control Centre (TICC). The upgrade helps to enhance passenger journeys by improving the quality of real-time information sent to traffic management teams. AMG – Juniper Networks partnership AMG, working with Juniper Networks, a leader in secure, AI-driven networks, brought the IP-driven CCTV project together across numerous government agencies and private construction contractors to create a cost-efficient, robust solution for Belfast’s M1 and M2 motorways. The Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure (DfI) awarded a tender to Graham Construction to work on the extension of hard shoulder bus lanes along the M1 and M2 motorways, intended to improve journey times and service reliability for bus passengers without affecting general traffic flows. The scheme was designed by DfI consultants Aecom, who also carried out site supervision and project manager roles during construction. The work included the provision of new and upgraded Pan Tilt Zoom IP-based CCTV cameras for traffic monitoring purposes by the Traffic Information and Control Centre (TICC) in Belfast. Hikvision PTZ IP video camerasGraham used Hikvision PTZ IP video cameras – installed by Chubb – for traffic monitoring Graham used Hikvision PTZ IP video cameras – installed by Chubb – for traffic monitoring. But connecting them to the Pelco system in use at TICC was not as straightforward as it at first seemed, which is where AMG Systems and Juniper Networks came in. “On each of the two motorways, the existing fibre network had only two spare fibres, so all the images had to be combined onto the two, allowing for a resilient ring,” consultant Jo Hopkins of Highways Consulting says, “meaning that if one fibre broke, the other would be able to transmit all the images. The existing cameras on the network were analogue, but we took the opportunity to install digital cameras. This reduces the number of times the images are sampled and converted from analogue to digital and back again, which improves the quality of the image.” Connecting IP cameras to fibre network Hopkins worked with Graham on the project, and said AMG was asked to provide a reliable, cost-effective means of connecting new cameras onto the existing fibre network, bringing the images back to the Traffic Control Centre in Belfast. “The task itself was straightforward, but the integration into an existing live system made the project more complex,” she said. Hopkins and AMG Systems Business Development Director Sara Fisher worked to address the network challenge, which included upgrading from analogue to IP cameras for the first time on the Belfast motorways. AMG switches The network design utilises nine AMG switches on the M1 fibres and 15 switches for the M2 The network design utilises nine AMG switches on the M1 fibres and 15 switches for the M2. At the TICC control room, there are a further four AMG switches which allow the IP cameras to connect to the existing Pelco monitoring equipment. Fisher explains that the control room network connection was further complicated as the TICC’s existing system called for the use of multi-casting and VLANs, and an existing firewall also had to be factored in. “The most appropriate interface in this case was Layer 3 POE switches from our partner Juniper Networks,” she said. IP video surveillance A DfI TICC representative said: “The joint network design by AMG and Juniper Networks has met the challenge presented to them in upgrading our hard shoulder bus lane cameras from purely analogue to IP and has provided a resilient network, intended specifically for the task. AMG’s post-sales service and advice has also proved extremely helpful.”
Consolidation – a decrease in the number of companies in a market achieved through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) – has been an important trend among manufacturers in the physical security market for many years. More recently, the trend has also appeared to extend to the integrator market. Larger integrators have been buying up other large integrators; in some cases, they have also been buying up smaller, regional integrators to expand their geographic coverage area. We wondered if this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable has noticed the trend. We asked: Has consolidation among security companies shifted to the integrator/installer market? What is the impact?
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