18 Dec 2019

Editor Introduction

“Open systems” has been a security industry buzzword for decades, although reality has sometimes diverged significantly from the ideal. The current state-of-the-art in open systems provides a multitude of benefits to increasingly complex physical security systems. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable to elaborate: What is the impact of open systems on physical security?

The role of a security system has changed tremendously in the last few years. Modern security systems can no longer operate in analog silos. As interconnectivity becomes more and more important, the debate between the pros and cons of open versus closed security systems is well and truly over. Today, even “closed” single-manufacturer systems have to plan to bring in outside data. Customers are increasingly demanding to unify a very rich ecosystem of sensors and data into their security platform, such as access control, ALPR, intrusion systems, perimeter detection, or even point of sale and other business operations systems. True unification based on an open architecture takes stand-alone components of a security environment as well as specialised plug-ins beyond just being connected and opens up a new world of collecting and using actionable business intelligence that can greatly enhance business operations.

Jeff Bransfield RS2 Technologies, LLC

Open systems are impacting all aspects of physical security, from development to installation. In general, these systems are becoming increasingly accepted across the industry, and for good reason. Thanks to the flexibility these systems provide, integrators can create solutions tailored to their client's unique needs. Gone are the days of the “build once and maintain forever” mindset. End users are requesting flexibility, and in turn, the industry is responding. Integrators can mix and match manufacturer products to provide a true “best of breed” solution, or, in the case of RS2 specifically, are able to make modifications to APIs to provide even greater levels of customisation. In addition, with open systems becoming more and more prevalent, it is forcing manufacturers to focus on differentiators. As a result, start-ups and veteran companies alike can allocate resources to innovation. We can only expect technology to continue to grow at a rapid pace.

Alan Stoddard Verint Systems

Open systems are one of the most important factors when it comes to deploying a comprehensive and cohesive technology solution. In today’s data-driven environment, security managers and operators rely on a multitude of sensors and devices – from a wide variety of vendors – to ensure protection. In highly complex environments, it is crucial that data from these components can be collected and correlated to identify and even anticipate threats and incidents. An open platform approach enables organisations to connect their existing assets and gain rapid insight without having to replace equipment to satisfy the requirements of a closed platform. With interoperability at its core, an open platform approach with intelligent technology solutions can incorporate various components to ensure that no incident goes unnoticed and that communication is streamlined between devices and security personnel. Additionally, open systems are key when it comes to convergence, which is more important now than ever before.

Mike Beevor Pivot3, Inc.

Open systems can only be a good thing for the security industry as they will serve to bring it up to date technologically and align better with data center best practices. We at Pivot3 see more and more IT departments becoming involved with physical security infrastructure, so being better aligned with modern technologies is a strong start. Open systems also allow for much deeper integration between security applications as well, although care needs to be taken in ensuring that the integrations are kept up to date, and any new releases or versions are tested thoroughly before deployment, otherwise there can be serious, unintended consequences. Security practitioners should also be careful to avoid “sprawl” by creating multiple infrastructure systems for each application they’re attempting to integrate, and this may be achieved by using a modular, scalable, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solution where all applications run on the same infrastructure.

Physical security is of such high importance that organisations have made a significant investment in technology to help keep people and the property safe. Video surveillance, access control or intruder alarms are designed to solve a specific purpose individually. The value of an open system solution is that each of those individual applications could benefit from the data created within. The sharing of information via integration among all the individual components has endless benefits.  Essentially knowledge is power, and in a security situation, knowledge and overall situational awareness are an obvious game changer. The insights that multiple systems can have on a situation when working together provide a much greater picture of that situation, rather than the systems acting alone in silos. 

There is always a balance of open versus secure. The easier a system is to install, configure, and use, the more holes will exist that can be exploited maliciously. Finding the balance that allows systems to be more open, while not undermining their ability to be secure, is the ever-present question in every industry using new technologies.

Editor Summary

System openness is a desirable, and increasingly common, aspect of security systems on the market today. Even the most “complete” systems generally provide a degree of openness to enable integration with other third-party technologies. Open systems are a key aspect of technology development as the security industry broadens its capabilities and the scope of its impact on the enterprise.