22 Aug 2018

Editor Introduction

The beginning of the school year and upcoming seasonal changes remind us that demand for security systems, like almost everything else, is seasonal to some extent. Making improvements to educational facilities during the summer months – including installation of security systems – is the most obvious example of seasonal demand, but there are others. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Which vertical markets for security are impacted by seasonal changes in demand?

All security markets have a degree of seasonal change, be that due to varying weather conditions or public holidays. However, the education security market is a good example of a sector that is particularly impacted by the time of year and changes in demand. Many security installation projects, upgrades and servicing visits take place during the school holiday periods such as Christmas, Easter and especially the long summer break. There is a noticeable uptake in security buying around these periods, which security manufacturers and suppliers need to thoroughly plan for. Another security sector that is noticeably impacted by seasonal changes is government. Various departments of government tend to approve projects at the beginning of the fiscal year for April/May installations, at the half-year period for October/November and also towards the end of the year for February/March. This ensures budgets are spent and work is carried out before fresh budgets are calculated.

Tim Palmquist Milestone Systems

Several vertical markets in security are impacted by seasonal changes in demand, but none is more apparent than the education vertical, specifically the K-12 market in the US. K-12 in the US was an early adopter of IP video security. With funding by the Federal Communication Commission’s E-rate program to make information services more affordable to schools, the K-12 vertical had the ability to procure impressive switched infrastructure, and IP video became an important driver justifying those expenditures. The budget year in K-12 ends on June 30th, and each year we see a significant rally in spending leading up to that, then again immediately after the new budget year in advance of the start of school in the fall. Understanding seasonal factors affecting budgeting and spending is key to helping partners position technology changes and prepare for delivery and commissioning time windows that address seasonal needs of the end user.

Two verticals most impacted by seasonal changes are education and transportation. For transportation, details caught in an image change due to meteorological change (such as snowfall). Looking ahead to when technologies like artificial intelligence and deep neural networks are implemented, the newest cameras will truly recognise objects in all weather conditions regardless of seasonal changes. For education, university and K-12 campuses face two distinct seasons. During school, security is focused on protecting students in the classroom. Whereas during the vacation period, the focus often shifts to protecting empty facilities from vandalism. Take for example the swimming pool at Pacheco High School in Los Banos, Calif., where a 5-gallon bucket of motor oil was dumped. The event was caught on camera and enabled location of the perpetrator, who is suspected to be a disenchanted student. Because of the change in threats, campuses need a holistic technology and adaptable protection plan.

One market in particular that sees a high demand in one season over another is in education. The “buying window” usually falls in the middle of the school year for the following year, so we'll see a spike in inquiries from consultants and specifiers, and sales initiated within that window. The reason behind this is that purchasing in the middle of the year and implementing a solution toward the end of the academic school year — and over the summer months — saves on closures and time spent installing new cameras, updated access control solutions and card readers, or other sensors within a facility. Another possible vertical-centric seasonal demand might be after the rush of the holidays in retail environments when there's a significant slowdown and new solutions can be implemented without much interruption in the day-to-day operations of a retailer.

Editor Summary

As the security market moves ahead toward the end of the year, companies will be looking to achieve their 2018 revenue goals and to prepare for 2019. The success in both cases may depend in part on how well they maximise windows of opportunity throughout the year. Some of those opportunities are driven by the seasons, and it may be too late for 2018. But working to maximise the benefit of seasonal demand is a useful strategy to ensure 2019 will be an even better year for security businesses.