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During the last 10 years there has been a demand for integrating all 3 physical security functions and this has gradually progressed top down from the Enterprise to the SMB market. Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) software has been adopted in the public sector to create interoperability between safety & security systems including fire detection, extinguishing, evacuation, mass notification. These systems have been normally connected at the top of each system silo and have been the command posts for very large projects.

Other services in buildings such as Building Automation (BAS), Building Energy Control Systems (BECS) and Lighting have further extended demand for integration. Here progress has been made in connecting at the field level through applying one common communication protocol to join sensors and controllers across these different systems in buildings. The use of a common operating platform can be used but this does not necessarily make it “open” and often requires using software interfaces between some devices.

On new installations today there is limited use of operating on one common communication standard to join systems at the field level across a few different systems. So today we have limited possibilities of using an open system across the different services in buildings because so far there is not a suitable communication protocol that is appropriate for all applications.

For this reason integrating physical security systems and other building services is more difficult to engineer and commission and expensive to maintain. Consequently integration between all the different types of systems has not developed as fast as was forecast and growth appears to have stalled.
During visits to smart building installations we have seen many that have achieved connectivity through IP Networks across access control, lighting and HVAC functions at the lower level of control.

It is IP that has made this possible but it still needs a common communication protocol to be used to enable data to be transferred and understood. There are a number of open communication protocols that are being used but none so far that is appropriate to cover all the different BAS services in complex buildings.

Running parallel to this has been the need to converge physical security controls to the business enterprise, commonly referred to as IT Convergence, and this has provided huge benefits to the building owners and operators and is now installed in many Buildings.

The final link in this chain is bringing all these developments together into one system having the capacity and capability to join all the devices on a network that can “fly on autopilot” not needing human intervention. That we call the Building Internet of Things (BIoT).

In the meantime independent System Integrators (SI’s) and the Major Suppliers are for the most part achieving integration through their own software platforms but building owners are not happy about being locked into one supplier, because this has cost them dearly in the past, when it is necessary to update and extend systems.

SI’s have overcome some of this resistance by focusing on specific vertical markets such as Transport, Retail and Healthcare and encouraging other product suppliers to join them so that end users can get a better choice of equipment to meet their needs, whilst still delivering plug and play solutions.

The main route to market for total solutions has been through major suppliers such as Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric and Siemens selling direct to the end user. Independent SI’s are now active in promoting this business and this has opened up a second channel and created more competition. The major independent SI’s now deliver a full design and installation service for all the services in buildings not just physical security systems.

What we are seeing now is the first stage of transition into a full BIoT System. This is now the time for security product manufacturers to seek out strategic alliances and build stronger relations with system integrators.

BIoT is expected to be a common feature in smart buildings within the next 5 years. This will deliver connectivity and big data technology throughout the building and will connect up all IP devices across all the building services. So a solution that is open and can take data from all the devices and deliver to where it is going to be analysed and make actionable is close to being achieved.