I spent a long time trying to decide what my first column should be. Should I focus on access control, intelligent video, the state of the security industry? Whatever…I have given all the possibilities plenty of thought. A good beginning? Allowing you, often the client of integrators, to have my look into your partners.

In the past, electronic advances in our industry occurred as a follow after. What I mean by that is we were consistently at the trailing edge of innovation. It always happened somewhere else before it happened here. Computers, hardware…new products – always somewhere else first before they became security products. And, in many cases, it took several years to happen.

Have you noticed how that changed? Security manufacturers now create new security products at the speed of light. Take cameras alone - have you noticed how many new cameras there are? And, have you recently taken a count of how many new camera manufacturers have entered the market? It’s beyond comprehension that they all can survive or will survive.

Work as Advertised?

I think we all agree on the above but what about the burden it puts on your integrator partners? We all have a responsibility to our clients to review and assess these innovations. Do they really work 100 percent as advertised? I can tell you from my experience that (unequivocally) many don’t. Now please understand that I did not say all don’t, just many don’t. As an example let’s just take intelligent video. Is it ready for prime time? In some cases it is. In many cases it’s not. And believe me there are many more “it’s not” than there are “it is.” Take thermal cameras. Have you ever tried to identify an object 500 to 1,000 feet away with a thermal camera? It looks like a moving ghost or a hazy lump. Even when whatever it is gets closer and more defined, the chances are you will need another non-thermal camera to really identify what you are looking at.

So let’s analyze what I have just said. You will need a second camera “to really identify what you are looking at.” That means if an integrator sold the thermal as a stand-alone solution, would you have seen the intrusion? The answer is yes. However, would you have been able to identify the intruder? The answer to that is probably no…if you didn’t use a second camera.

How about the intelligent video attribute of identifying a package or item “left behind?” In this scenario someone walks up to a building or an airport fence, puts a package down and walks away. After a prescribed amount of time the camera’s “intelligence” characteristic causes an alarm, drawing the attention of the monitoring agent to the potential problem. Sounds great! Does it work? Absolutely! Does it work alongside a building on Fifth Avenue in the middle of Manhattan? Absolutely not!

So what does it all mean? It means that integrators need to be absolutely certain that what is recommended to you will work in the real world environment. Care must be taken by you and your integrator to ensure that a product works in a precise way and to avoid trying to use it in an environment for which it is ill suited. The “new” products we are seeing are very exciting and innovative. But be wary that enthusiastic selection doesn’t cost the end-user/integrator partnership a lot of pain or worse, a breakup of the partnership.

SIDEBAR: Meet Our Respected, New Columnist

Security Magazine welcomes Raymond Dean to the honored ranks of monthly columnists. Dean is president and founder of PEI Systems, “The Security Engineers,” a 34- year old New York City-based security integration firm. PEI specializes in the design, furnishing and servicing of integrated security systems to the Fortune 500. Deeply involved in associations serving the profession, Dean is also a founding member and past president of SecurityNet, a group of integrators started in 1993 to provide globally integrated security solutions and services.

Dean’s firm has been listed in SDM Magazine’s 2007 Top Systems Integrators report, which illustrated that convergence is occurring on a global, national and local level.

The result is that security technology gains in usefulness to the overall client operation. According to the SDM coverage, a sister publication to Security, systems integration is being driven in large part by IT-based technologies and IT involvement in the selection, purchase, implementation and operation of the physical security solution.

PEI Systems Inc., Long Island City, ranked No. 54, noted that its client base for enterprise systems has grown significantly year to year, primarily through expansion.