Ask the Expert: Brad J. Wilson
Issue: What is your opinion of the security industry today, as the
year draws to a close?
Solution: As we all know, 2009 was a difficult year for the security
industry and many of our customers. The recession has impacted
all of us to some extent. It has taught both integrators and end users
to find new ways to get more from each security dollar invested.
We have become more creative in finding new uses of security
equipment that allows the costs to be spread among various departments
such as security, operations and human resources.
Issue: What trends do you predict for 2010?
Solution: While we are beginning to see the economy pick up,
we would be wise to remember the lessons learned from this recession
for many years to come. But even during tough economic times,
technology continues to leap forward. There will be new products
and trends developing within the security industry in 2010. Here is a
look at some favorites.
Managed services. Although the concept of managed services
has been with us for several years, there is a new momentum building.
Central station operators can now not only manage an end
user’s video and access control applications but also use software to
provide health checks on cameras, recorders and card readers. This
allows for the immediate fixing or replacement of failing or failed
equipment before it causes a problem.
Network protection. IT folks are very protective of their network,
which now carries much of the security data -- video and access --
that moves from remote locations to a security operating center.
The added uses offer more opportunity for hackers to break into the
network. IT is demanding more network security, and equipment
manufacturers are responding by building additional safeguards
into their products.
Near field communication. NFC is a short-range wireless communication
technology that operates on a high frequency to exchange
data between devices over a short distance (about 4 inches). It can be
used to turn a device, such as a mobile phone, into a contactless ID
card or provide ticketing information for airlines or other sources of
Card-reading locks. Access control manufacturers have been
successful in creating locks that can be read by the access control
system. This allows for cylinders of file cabinets, desk drawers and
other areas to be accessed by smart cards. It also provides an added
layer of protection by allowing only authorized employees access
to areas that may contain highly sensitive documents. Keys, which
can be easily lost, stolen or copied, are taken out of the system. And
by communicating wirelessly with the access server, these new locks
provide an audit trail of who opened which cabinets and when.
Power sources. As cameras and card readers continue to be placed
in more remote areas, we will see an increase in the use of battery
and/or solar-powered equipment.
Video. Video surveillance, which has grown dramatically over the
past decade, will continue to be the star of the security industry in
2010. Expect to see new and improved video management systems,
increased IP camera deployment and more use of video analytics at
the camera. The latter will gain wider market acceptance as prices
drop and performance continues to improve.
Reader Question: I am the president of a professional services
firm that maintains highly critical documents on behalf of our clients.
We’ve had problems (primarily a large number of false alarms) with our
current alarm monitoring company and are looking to make a change. If
we do, what questions should we ask of a potential new service provider?
Solution: The following questions should help get you started.
Does the monitoring center offer proactive solutions to reduce
Your monitoring company should provide proactive monitoring
solutions rather than only reactive services. This model provides you
with an effective tool to combat false alarms and the associated fines.
Confirm that the monitoring center offers Web-based solutions that
provide real-time access to alarm, access control and video information.
Additionally, verify that the center offers the ability to create and
retrieve detailed, custom reports.
Should I select a local, regional or national monitoring
It’s important to do some basic research before choosing a central
station monitoring company. I suggest asking the Central Station
Alarm Association for a list of the UL-listed member companies in
your area. Also ask your insurance company for a list of local alarm
From a technical perspective, the location of the monitoring center
has become almost a moot point. Whether you are across the country or
down the block, the use of telephone lines, fiber optics and the Internet
are reliable transmission sources. However, a local monitoring center
often has an established working relationship with the local police and
What type of training do monitoring center employees receive?
Far too often, emphasis is placed on a monitoring center’s advanced
technology, rather than the human element. Monitoring center operators
are tasked with responding to the information provided by the technology;
therefore they must be professionally trained and certified. For
example, the CSAA provides a certification program not only for the
monitoring center itself but for each individual operator. Inquire if the
monitoring center is a CSAA Certified Five Diamond Central Station
and the operators have received their Level I and II certifications.