As typical with the last day of any tradeshow exhibition, the ASIS floor traffic was lighter, making it a bit easier to get from one booth to another. But with so many vendors, it would be impossible to visit every booth and have a quality conversation on what was new. Nonetheless, I saw a few more things that fell into common “buckets”, albeit not necessarily ones that you haven’t seen for yourself. However, they are noteworthy as they do make up a promising trend for security technology.
Integration of multiple security devices or applications continued to march on. What may seem as a minor evolutionary step might be a subtle or, in other cases, a not so subtle move by a company to enter new markets. For example, more video management system (VMS) software companies have integrated capabilities that are not considered as video management functions. Thus, they have jumped on the PSIM (physical security information) bandwagon. ONSSI has used PSIM in their product messaging for a while. Others simply observe that customers want a single interface and have begun to not just pass video to an access control partner, but actually have the ability to buzz a door open from inside their video GUIs. So clearly access control, PSIM, and VMS vendors are vying to be “THE” security interface to the security operator. It is interesting to note that the larger players don’t really play on the PSIM front, or have chosen to quietly partner with a PSIM vendor rather than providing their own offering. To be fair, it may be that this technology, while bringing many new capabilities, can enable a competitor and loosen the hold on their installed base. It would also be an excellent way to take market share from a competitor, if looked upon as an offensive strategy.
Integration has also extended to various hardware vendors. Mobotix has rolled out a POE door console that incorporates a keypad, VoIP speaker phone, and camera. While that might not be such a big deal, that keypad also hides contactless badge reading technology. Thus, it heralds Mobotix’s entry into the access control part of the market.
It’s well recognized that integrated products can make life easier for customers and dealers/installers; this is particularly true when deploying the technology. Plug ‘n play is essentially built-in to most of these products. But plug ‘n play is also evolving with more devices and products automatically discovering and registering with their respective control/management system head-ends. Since many of these systems use IP, these auto-discovery mechanisms must also navigate internal and external firewalls. IP camera vendors have definitely improved their capabilities in this area.
In some cases, the ability for the edge devices to call home to their head-end units is absolutely critical. It tends to be easier for them to call out to the head-end management server/device, located in a remote location or operated as a hosted service, versus head-end management piercing an organization’s internet firewall in an attempt to locate its related customer premises equipment (CPE). Thus, plug ‘n play is a key function for hosted services companies, such as some of those that I mentioned yesterday. After all, reducing complexity is part of their value proposition for end-users.
In an attempt to pull all three days worth of ASIS innovation hunting together, I would leave you with a few thoughts/technologies and capabilities to watch. They may not be earth-shattering, but they are worth mentioning, in any case. Comparing the companies that tend to occupy the edges of a tradeshow floor versus those in the middle is an excellent metaphor for technology innovation adoption and mainstream use. In security, you tend to find smaller companies using new technology or applying proven technology from other industries (such as IT) at the edge. As you move to the middle or center of the floor you find larger companies that don’t tend to be as nimble (there are exceptions, though). The technology found at the center is typically long proven and familiar, yet it also tends to be more complex to deploy and operate, less functional, and more costly in the long run. Ironically virtualization, hosted services, integration and plug and play have been proven in mission-critical business systems and applications countless times over. As an industry, while we may be risk-aversed, these “innovations” have demonstrated their value. Regardless of the perspective, the security industry and business will grow and improve with the adoption of these technologies.