ASIS 2017 was off to a strong start on Tuesday, presenting a new wave of innovation to the U.S. security end user community. Many attendees to the Dallas show are well-placed in their companies to influence or direct the purchase of security products and equipment, and exhibitors sought to impress them with a range of new and enhanced options.

Moving from integration to unification

In general, the ASIS show has a quieter, less frantic feel than the spring ISC West show in Las Vegas. Conversations are more "intimate" than those common at integrator-focused shows. "End users are very honest about the challenges they are facing," observed Derek Arcuri, Product Marketing Manager of Genetec. "The challenges we are hearing are a symptom of similar problems we hear in conversations with other users. It's more than just technology, it's planning out the strategy and showing them how they can slowly inch toward their vision by investing in a platform that is open and unified."

Unification is a buzzword you hear more and more often in the security industry, and unification means something beyond integration. In the case of Genetec, unification summarises a strategy that leverages an identical technology approach underlying every facet of a broad-based solution, including video, access control and other technologies. Arcuri says customers should commit to a unified platform and then use integration to accommodate existing installed products and enable a gradual transition to a systemwide unified system as costs allow.

Among Genetec's current and future offerings highlighted at ASIS 2017 are vertical-focused product lines such as Airport Sense, Retail Sense and Traffic Sense, which offer specific capabilities and are all built on the Genetec unified platform.

Johnson Controls accelerates product development

A year after the headline-making acquisition of Tyco, Johnson Controls kicked off the first day of the ASIS 2017 exhibition with a press event revisiting the big story one year later. Johnson Controls says they are making significant investments in engineering to ensure accelerated introduction of products in the video, access control and intrusion categories – around 100 engineers have been added to the product development team, a 15 percent increase.

Johnson Controls kicked off the first day of the ASIS 2017 exhibition with a press event revisiting its acquisition of Tyco
A press conference by Johnson Controls kicked off the ASIS 2017 exhibition, about a year after their headline-making acquisition of Tyco

"As we have come together, all the positives have been realised," said Brian Young, Johnson Controls Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing. The complementary nature of the two businesses -- a prime motivator promoted when the acquisition was announced last year -- has been realised in many ways, including how the technology platforms work together, and even the sales cycles (Johnson Controls typically has a longer sales cycle, while Tyco's business moves faster.)

"We are starting to deliver real value," says David Grinstead, Global Vice President and General Manager of Security Products. Johnson Controls executives estimate the overlap of the two businesses is about 15 percent, which translates into 85 percent of new opportunity for crossover business to enhance both operations.

March Networks transitions to video software

Companies are changing as the market changes. March Networks is transitioning from being a hardware provider to developing software reporting tools that can increase the value of video and data by correlating the two. "Video is becoming more of an operational feature that every institution wants to have. We are more of an information company than ever, focused on software and services," says Peter Strom, President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are seeing how video can play a role beyond security."

For example, March Networks' new Searchlight for QSR (quick service restaurants) combines video with various data points, such as those provided by point of sale (POS) systems, to provide a "dashboard" to help a business owner track his business (with data tied into video to enhance the value). Video is stored locally, and data is stored in the cloud; the service is provided for a monthly fee. The company has similar data-driven products in other verticals: Searchlight for Retail and Searchlight for Banking, both providing a "360-degree view" of a business. 

March Networks has historically emphasised the importance of cybersecurity - driven by demands of its financial and retail verticals

Cybersecurity in the video surveillance market

March Networks also has historically emphasised the importance of cybersecurity -- driven by demands of the financial and retail verticals they play in. Their cybersecurity approach predates by a decade or more the current concerns in the market, says Strom.

March Networks is among the companies that see video taking a new, higher profile among customers -- and not just for security applications. Two verticals that March Networks is active in -- financial and retail -- have been especially impacted by the transition to broader use of video in a company.

At ASIS 2017, March Networks is also announcing integration of Patriot One Technologies' covert weapons detection solution with video. The cognitive microwave radar technology detects concealed handguns and other types of weapon, and sends real-time alerts to security. The system is "trained" and continues to "learn" after deployment, getting better and smarter at detecting hidden weapons with each screening.

Arecont Vision emphasises ease of use

Arecont Vision continues on its theme of making it easier for integrators to install products. They have extended "no-touch" remote setup to the MegaDome G3 Series. A vari-focal motorised lens can be set up remotely in any position with pan, tilt, focus and zoom. The remote setup avoids a technician having to stand on a ladder to adjust and fine-tune the image, which takes extra time and can be hazardous.

The MegaVideo 4K 8.3 megapixel camera also has multiple motorised lens options for remote setup. Arecont Vision plans to carry the approach through its entire product line over time, expanding ease of installation to an ever-broadening array of products.

This is just a sampling of what I saw and heard on the first day of ASIS, with plenty more still to come.

Read's Day 2 coverage here