How does the consumer market affect end users' expectations of security system features?
The connected workplace, increase in “bring you own device” environments and even the rise in telecommuting have served to blur the lines between an employee’s private life and his employment. The idea of an executive’s obsessive need to check his Blackberry while on vacation has crept into the popular culture and is now a familiar cliché that is as old as, well, Blackberries. The blurring of lines has also created a blurring of expectations. Now employees expect their systems at work to be as responsive and user-oriented as their new iPad. The result has been to raise the game of many manufacturers in the physical security marketplace. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How does the consumer market affect end users' expectations related to image quality, mobile access, or other security system features?
The consumer market expects data to be delivered clearly, quickly and effectively, which means we are experiencing more and more end users requesting higher resolution images from their video surveillance systems. Over the years we have seen an increase in organisations going mobile and end users more and more are expecting the versatility of being able to access data and surveillance information from their smartphones, as well as their desktops, laptops and notebooks. Gone are the days of a siloed IT department or security personnel. End users expect ubiquitous access to a variety of data, everything from surveillance information to GPS mapping, to access control and weather sensors as well as social media information.
The consumer market has a significant effect on end users’ expectations. Perhaps the biggest one is video quality. Because most consumers and end users have HD (and now even Ultra-HD) displays in their homes, they expect higher resolution and better video quality from their surveillance systems. Second, in regards to mobility and cloud access, consumers expect to use browsers and mobile devices for accessing information. They expect to be able to see video from surveillance cameras and use phones instead of cards for access control. Third, consumers expect cheaper prices. The prices of consumer goods drop pretty rapidly with advances in technology, and security system users have come to expect similar drops in prices for security system components. They expect higher capacities and lower prices for hard-drives, flash drives and SD/SDXC cards used in DVRs/NVRs and cameras. Finally, consumers want interoperability and ease of use in their security components.
The consumer market drives both the customers’ expectations and the technology used in the security space. The clarity of high definition televisions drove the demand for HD CCTV cameras. The enormous consumer demand for HD and now 4K televisions has made that technology affordable for CCTV applications. End users now use mobile applications for managing their homes and their personal lives. Because of this, almost every end user now has a smart phone with high speed data access that is available to be used for security applications, and we now have high expectations for how those applications should work and what they should be capable of.
The consumer market reflects “six degrees of connection,” particularly when it comes to video security features and mobile access. I’d say this advancement in consumer needs and expectations [applies especially to] home security. Home security cameras can sit on a shelf or attach to a wall. They can connect to the internet via Wi-Fi, stream a wide-angle view of your room day or night, record up to 30 days of video with audio to the cloud, and allow the owner to view the camera’s feed through an app on a smart phone. Fifty billion connected things in the next five years doesn’t seem unrealistic when we think about how many devices are already connected and how we access them on so many different platforms. These connected devices – thermostats or lighting controls – are “smart” because they can analyse data, essentially learning our preferences to offer greater comfort, convenience and safety.
The rapid development of technology within the consumer electronics industry quite naturally raises expectations for other industries to develop equally as fast. There are some obvious advantages to this transfer of end user expectations from one market to another. For example, I don’t think we would have seen the fast growth in interoperability if not for the rapid deployment of Internet connections and increased prevalence of improved network device capabilities that occurred in the consumer market.
Why would a security director want to settle for an inferior image on a surveillance system that is such an important part of doing his job? Why wouldn’t he want the face image of a possible criminal on his premises to be at least as clear as the images he sees in his den at home? Shouldn’t any employee accustomed to his interconnected “digital life” expect the same level of connectivity (and resulting improvements in efficiency) in the devices he uses in the workplace? In the end, it seems clear that improvements in consumer electronics are helping to drive improvements in systems used in our physical security marketplace. It’s one of the several factors pushing manufacturers to make their products better – and all of us safer in the process.
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