Integration of building systems has been a topic of continuous discussion for over 20 years. While numerous technology silos have been brought together through top-end proprietary software, none have had the variety, robustness, or price point to make a real impact on the mass market. In the physical security segment specifically, “integration” and “IT convergence” have been buzzwords for more than 10 years, but it is only in the last 5 years of IP network integration that we have seen integrated systems begin to deliver. Today, we are at a critical turning point, as some manufacturers begin to accept an open integrated future and remaining siloes cling to their closed business models.
“The trend for integration across the three physical security businesses has continued and its scope has extended to include integration across other BAS services and convergence with the business enterprise. Most of this has taken place in new building projects,” explains our latest security report. “Manufacturers and system integrators are now heavily promoting the integration of video surveillance, access control, and, to a slightly lesser extent, intruder alarms. Integration is associated with developing common software platforms that meet the requirements of the end-users, but in the meantime, proprietary systems are being used, which is restricting demand.”
The limitations posed by proprietary systems now form the main driver for integration as end-users increasingly demand solutions that avoid vendor lock-in. By having the freedom to select best-in-class products from a variety of different manufacturers, end users can create long-term flexibility and reduce total cost of ownership. While user acceptance and established proprietary software policies form key barriers to mass systems integration, the change in mindset will likely be triggered by the technology itself. As the building technology landscape matures, more and more stakeholders will move towards an integrated model, naturally eroding many of the barriers to the widespread deployment of integrated security and smart building technologies.
“The importance of convergence of IT and security is no longer in doubt, but to convince the CIO, who is now most likely to be the final decision maker across security and IT in the prestige and multi-building owner market, it will need the offer of a package that convinces them it has the expertise and capability to carry it out,” the new report reads. “Successful deployments by market pioneers in a wide variety of scenarios demonstrate use-cases, effective ROIs, and competitive advantage for the companies that have made the investment, in turn helping to build confidence amongst decision makers in the wider market of the potential of integrated systems.”
The report suggests that demand for integration and convergence with the business enterprise will increase demand across the physical security landscape and also recognizes the strong position of system integrators to drive that trend. However, for this development to take place, the sector will need manufacturers to get onboard to ensure the compatibility of plug-and-play solutions. In the meantime, as more manufacturers offer both access control and video surveillance products that fully comply with the ONVIF standard, connectivity between different products can be achieved.
“The shortest way for a vendor to reach the market is probably to define something proprietary in the beginning, but when it comes to critical mass, the growing number of incompatible components available drives the need for interoperability and openness. We see the demand for openness growing more with time and we have tried to serve that demand by solving the challenges of interface implementation between surveillance cameras and video management systems,” said Leo Levit, ONVIF Steering Committee Chairman, during our webinar last month. “As we enter the era of video analytics and access control, we can help drive the open interface ideology in those industries. It's really fascinating to see the pace of adoption by vendors and I am really interested to see how the building industry adopts it.”
The Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) is a standardization organization specifying the communication and socialization of communication between different IP devices in the physical security industry. It develops a number of core specifications in different areas and those specifications are grouped into profiles designed for the most common use cases. One of the most recent additions to the ONVIF catalog is Profile M, which adds support for advanced analytics, metadata tagging, recognition software, and MQTT among other new features. In the eight months since it’s release, Profile M has seen the fastest adoption of all ONVIF profiles to date.
“Building automation is a very interesting area because a lot of our members are active in this domain, and we see a lot of convergence of the technology from different areas. So, the technologies that have been predominantly developed for a specific business area are starting to find their way to other areas. For example, something that's been developed specifically for surveillance may go into IoT or some pure IoT technologies may end up in building automation,” Levit responded, during the interactive webinar. “Considering this and the obvious demand, we are looking at different new profiles that will benefit smart buildings in the future.”
End-user expectations for integration will continue to grow as the limitations of proprietary systems become more pronounced against the backdrop of emerging open standards and rising end-user understanding. To serve that evolving demand, manufacturers, vendors, and system integrators will have to adapt their offerings to a more open approach that will challenge established business models. The winners of tomorrow’s security sector, and wider smart buildings industry, will be those who make the shift to an open approach to integration.