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The best ISC West ever? Setting the stage for upbeat security market in 2016

Published on 14 April, 2016

No doubt about it: ISC West 2016 was a hit.

Every comment I heard during the show (and since) has highlighted how busy the show was. There was plenty of booth traffic, even on the (traditionally slow) final day of the show. Some say it was the best ISC West in the last several years. Others say it was the best show ever.

Quite a contrast to some other recent industry shows, plagued by meagre traffic and complaining exhibitors. Instead, there were people everywhere at ISC West, asking questions and soaking up information on the latest technologies. It seemed the largest booths were especially crowded.

Merging new technologies with existing systems

From a technology standpoint, the show had plenty new to offer, but nothing stood out as a revolutionary or surprising development. Much of the talk we heard was more of the same – more mobile apps, more 4K cameras, more Internet of Things, more Cloud. But I also sensed that these elements are now being viewed in a more practical sense – how they can be used in existing systems to the real benefit of the market. The hype of previous shows is now quietly translating into better value propositions for integrators and end users. Maybe that’s what was causing all the excitement.

Strides in video technology

In video, the 4K cameras that made a big splash a year or so ago are now part of systems. But 4K is just one aspect of these improved video systems. Making higher resolution possible are strides in video compression using H.264. Several video manufacturers have released enhanced H.264 codecs that minimize bandwidth and storage requirements even more, thus paving the way for the higher data streams from 4K cameras. Even the next generation codecs – H.265 – are making inroads, offering the promise of even more bitrate savings in the future. Manufacturers are also concentrating on low-light imaging, and their impressive low-light performance now also preserves the colour in an image.

The Cloud and mobile apps for user convenience

The Cloud has been hyped for several years in our market. At ISC West, although there was less talk about Cloud as a concept, if you listened closely, you could hear that more companies are addressing the needs of the Cloud and providing options to use the powerful Software as a Service model. Many sought to de-mystify talk of the Cloud: Everything runs on a server, the question is just where that server is located. Cloud has morphed into an option, offering new levels of flexibility.

The new industry view on cybersecurity is that it is an ongoing challenge that will require awareness and best practices at every level – manufacturers, consultants, integrators and end users

Mobile phones were all over ISC West this year, and not just those used by attendees. Exhibitors showed mobile phone apps that could interface directly with existing systems, whether video or access control or intruder. We as consumers are used to our smart phones being flexible tools that are packed with features, so it’s not surprising that security professionals would want the same level of convenience. Exhibitors at ISC West demonstrated the industry’s move in that direction. Smart phones can also capture video, which can now be streamed to various video management systems in real time. Furthermore, there’s the growing use of smart phones as credentials (in lieu of cards) – ISC West highlighted some new aspects of that trend, too.

Stepping up to cybersecurity

Finally, ISC West demonstrated unequivocally our market’s determination to face up to the issue of cybersecurity. Just two short years ago, cybersecurity was the “elephant in the room,” never discussed but undeniably present. In the interim, manufacturer after manufacturer has stepped up to face the issue head-on, to discuss it, to communicate its challenges, to improve their products on its behalf. The new industry view on cybersecurity is that it is an ongoing challenge that will require awareness and best practices at every level – manufacturers, consultants, integrators and end users. At ISC West, it was clear that manufacturers are poised to lead the way.

As goes ISC West, so goes the industry. If that is true, the outlook is excellent.

Several exhibitors told me the leads they get from ISC West drive their business for months in the future. But even beyond leads, the enthusiasm and optimism of ISC West this year bodes well for a vibrant market that is on the upswing throughout 2016. We can hope.

ISC West 2016

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