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Integration between all three branches of the Physical Security business is now one of the main drivers for growth in demand from building operators and owners. However its full potential is being limited by a lack of initiative from manufacturers and system installers to adopt open communication standards that customers need if they are not to be locked into to one source of supply. Buyers have a strong resistance to accepting this.
On the horizon we expect to have Internet of Things (IoT) technology enable us to connect every device, sensor and actuator in a building delivering full connectivity across all types of Building Automation services and converged with IT enterprise services. This is available today for some new construct projects where the need for integration is limited to relatively small and not too sophisticated control systems. So should the industry just wait for the IoT to create an open, comprehensive holistic solution without the need for human intervention to control them?
Well probably not. A number of industry commentators now think that the IT community, which is controlling IoT technology, has been rather optimistic on how it will solve the fact that communications are the constraint in IoT design.
One size does not fit all applications. The characteristics of a robust communications layer, frequency band, maximum signal rate, nominal range, cryptography, network type and coexistence mechanisms show that its not magic but a lot of systems design and engineering to build application-specific communications to interconnect these devices. The devil is in the detail and it will take longer and be more expensive to achieve.
Therefore in the meantime it would be sensible for the physical security industry to build on what it can deliver today whilst extending integration to all BAS services and exploring the benefits of IT convergence.
Integration and IT Convergence have, for almost 10 years, impacted all three branches of the industry and in particular Video Surveillance, but its only in the last thee years through IP networks that integrate across all sectors has delivered more elegant and cost effective solutions. They are now being actively pursued by System Integrators. Integration across all aspects of physical security combined with IT Convergence is one of the most critical ingredients for elevating physical security to a profit center and to operate in a much higher level in the investment food chain.
Whilst the technology has been available the opportunities and the benefits for more joined up solutions has required System Integrators to be more “IT-ized” and Distributors to up their technical skills and this has taken time.
A slowing down in growth and reduced margins in the traditional market has forced them to redefine their strategy for delivering integrated systems and this has resulted in a significant increase in value add on integrated projects and growth in the security business.
The importance of convergence of IT and security is no longer in doubt, but to convince the CIO who is now most often the decision maker across security and IT in the prestige and multi-building owner market, you need to offer the package that convinces him that you have the expertise and capability to carry it out.
Cyber Security has become a major concern to the CIO because of the vulnerability of attacks through connecting with building services. These services are vulnerable to cyber attacks at the present time and we believe it’s holding back a faster advancement to full IoT in Buildings.
In the meantime most of the integration packages on offer only operate through a proprietary software platform and the downside to this is that many customers have a strong dislike to being locked into such systems. In addition there are insufficient system integrators that have the expertise to integrate all Building Automation services.
In the case of Physical Security integration across, access control, intruder alarms and video surveillance can be delivered through existing routes to market but when integrating with say Building Energy Control Systems and Lighting, contractual procedures and different distribution channels need to operate together. This is a logistics problem more than a technical one but does require system integrators to acquire expertise across a much wider front.
Major conglomerates such as Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Schneider and Siemens have this capability in house and can deliver it worldwide. There are a number of regional independent system integrators that have grown rapidly over the last five years that have the capability to deliver fully comprehensive integrated systems. However most system integrators today only have the capability to cover a limited number of services and are relatively small, have only a limited financial capability to take on large contracts.
We expect that the structure of the system integrator business will undergo some major changes not least consolidation in order to acquire scale and expertise over the next ten years, so they can deliver customers value propositions.
The physical security industry is relatively independent and from within, provides its own software and hardware which is unlike other Building Automation Services (BAS) where software specialist are more likely to provide the software platforms on which the different systems can exchange data and make it actionable. Our recent report, The Market for Building Performance Software 2016 to 2020 shows there are some 350 established suppliers delivering across the 16 different software markets within non-domestic buildings.
These platforms offer the capability to take the information from virtually all the BAS services in Smart Buildings providing analytic services and full comprehensive control across all elements. Big Data software will be required when multiple buildings and Smart City data needs to be processed.
Physical security will take the lead part in integration in at least one vertical market and that is the Retail Business. Here the convergence with IT enterprise operations has delivered cost savings through more efficient use of staff, identifying better display of goods and footfall intelligence. This is in addition to reducing pilfering by customers and staff that was the reason for installing video surveillance in the first place. The retail business is starting to regard video surveillance as a critical factor in improving its profitability.
This article is taken from our recent reports The Physical Security Industry 2016 to 2021 & The Market for Building Performance Software 2016 to 2020.