Nicolas Richter, Head of Security Products for Siemens Building Technologies, looks at the increasing importance of interoperability in the security market.
In trying to identify the greatest driver in the security market at the moment, I would have to say interoperability. If you look at intrusion, for example, it is no longer just intrusion, particularly in the commercial sector. The access control system operates during office hours but then out of hours, yes, you have the initial intruder detection, but then perhaps CCTV sending live images for alarm verification down a secure network to an alarm receiving centre which co-ordinates the response. The increasing involvement of service providers in the security equation, particularly telecommunications and energy companies, is helping to push this trend for interoperability, not only within security but beyond. People are already starting to see security as a necessity rather than a luxury when it is being purchased as part of a package alongside such staples as light, heating and water. This brings about a change in the mindset - no longer is it about purchasing an individual solution to a single problem but rather a package that solves several.
The security market asks for security
For those manufacturers involved in the different sectors of the market, Siemens Building Technologies (SBT) included, it is this very sector differentiation that we have to move away from. The market asks for security - it is the industry, particularly the manufacturers, that define the boundaries and we need to ensure that we are able to offer products which can cross these boundaries to offer an optimum solution rather than thinking in strictly product sector specific terms. We have three product lines in our security portfolio CCTV, intrusion and access control but it is important that we don't erect solid barriers between the different disciplines.
Research & development in interoperability
This integration of different technologies is not easy and requires significant investment but it is an investment that we see as critical. Some 20 percent of our total R&D budget in the next year will be devoted specifically to interoperability. We need to listen to what the market wants and then deliver if we are to develop from our current position.
Global presence & interoperability
In taking on this position as Head of Security Products at SBT, one of my objectives is to create a global presence and interoperability between the three product lines is key to that. We are already bringing forward the notion of interoperability. On our recent stand at IFSEC, this was very much to the fore access control working together with video authorization, authorized entry recording using access readers to set and un-set maybe intrusion systems - it's all interaction. That makes it a very strong offering to customers who aren't looking to buy video or access or intrusion - they are looking to buy security so we now have to harness the competences of these vertical lines and actually bring it out.
Acquisitions towards achieving integration
In talking about integration, this applies as much to businesses as it does to products. Acquisitions have and will continue to play a fundamental role in our strategy. SBT purchased Bewator in 2005, a leading access control specialist that added considerably to our existing capability. More recently we have acquired iMetrex (known in Europe as Europlex), an Indian based company that provides integrated systems and solutions for security and fire risks - again an example of integration being at the heart of what we need to do.
Siemens' experience & know-how
We have various centres around Europe, Asia and the US, all feeding into a pool of development - for Siemens as a business this means more than 30,000 software engineers at 150 R&D locations in 30 countries with some 62,000 active patents. Whether the developments are in CCTV, access control or intrusion, we must always have integration and the way the different products can interact and interoperate with each other, in our minds.
Role of IT
It is also important that we recognize the considerable impact of IT on our business. As CCTV and access control moves over wider and wider areas, we are coming out of the buildings and onto networks. We therefore need to recognize that we are coming out of the security manager's mind and into that of the IT manager. We need to address the issues that the IT manager is facing, be it IP compatibility, bandwidth technology or the security of the network over which the information will travel. Returning to the increasing integration of CCTV with intrusion, the benefits in terms of IT are considerable - much better to use a 24 hour monitored, secured and controllable link to receive real time online access to CCTV images than an Internet based approach which makes the images potentially accessible by anybody. Recognizing this increased IT focus, our product support, training and product development in general takes into account the needs of the IT manager.
Means of differentiation
Interoperability also brings a number of other factors to the table: it offers a significant means of differentiation, particularly against low cost imports, while also ensuring cost of ownership benefits to the customer.
There has been a paradigm shift in security towards interoperable products/systems that are part of customers' IT. This will only increase as customers move away from a CCTV or an intrusion or an access control option, and look towards a more holistic "Security" approach, which is not product sector specific.
Head of Security Products
Siemens Building Technology