Adapting to Change
- By Michael Regelski
- Feb 01, 2012
Perhaps the most common challenge and opportunity facing any industry
in today’s world is creating solutions that can accommodate
the transitions that come with the rapid advancement of technology.
From product development all the way to the end user, rapidly evolving
technology requires companies to adapt quickly and move nimbly.
The security industry is not immune to this trend. Technological advancements
have had a trickle-down effect that has impacted every corner of the industry.
As we look to 2012 and beyond, the greatest challenges and opportunities will
be found in advancements in video surveillance, open protocol standards and systems
integration. Adapting to these advancements while simplifying the application
for both installers and users will be the keys to success.
Having a key role in the security industry, video surveillance is what protects and
monitors the safety of the consumer. In today’s industry, video is not just transmitted
to a fixed screen or display that is monitored by a security guard; video is now
transmitted over networks to many different devices and players.
This means that security companies need to ensure their technology can be
accessed through many means. If security companies don’t adapt and determine
ways for video surveillance to be accessed via networks—wired or wireless—and/
or through mobile applications, they will not succeed.
The networking and IP-based systems provide an opportunity for users to get
one unified security network, driven by open standards and the integration of systems
from different products and manufacturers. A good example of this is the IP
network video camera. This camera has shifted away from standalone proprietary
video systems. The IP network video camera operates on a networked security
environment. Users want to be able to be plug their cameras into the network
and have it automatically connect to their system so they can view, command and
control the cameras without having to worry if they are using a combination of
multiple manufacturers or technologies, such as high-definition, PTZ and thermal.
This is the kind of integration that customers are now demanding. With today’s
technology, consumers should not have to worry about a complex integration system.
They should be able to access, stream and play video surveillance on any device.
Those companies that leverage leading-edge technologies into their products
and then make them user-friendly and easy to install and service are those that will
win in today’s environment.
Moving Video to the Cloud
Cloud-based computing is becoming a new model of efficiency in the IT industry,
from business applications such as salesforce.com to Apple providing cloud services
with its mobile devices. The move toward cloud computing has its own valuable
opportunities—scalability, ease of access and distribution—and holds great
promise for the security industry as it relates to video.
Now, with cloud computing and server virtualization, video storage can be centralized
by the cloud and managed as ubiquitous storage. Managing independent
devices with individual storage capacities will be a thing of the past. Video in
the cloud can also allow for reduced installation and expansion costs. Imagine a
video installation where an IP-based camera installation is put on the network, is
automatically discovered, and starts to stream relevant video to centralized cloud
storage. Users can then access data from different devices no matter where they
are in the world.
The key to migration toward cloud-based security offerings starts with building
a scalable and open architecture that can support the demands of these systems.
A service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a key enabler for mobile applications and
cloud-based computing. SOA maximizes server management, infrastructure availability
and maintenance costs for IT efficiencies.
Commercial applications, such as Google Maps, are developed as SOA and delivered
as a Web service that can be accessed through an open type of interface and then connected to other applications.
The idea behind SOA is that if security
industry manufacturers can design
their products based on this architecture,
then they can create many different
services that are totally uncoupled,
monolithic applications and allow for
access from many platforms.
The movement to create open systems
that was pioneered by Lenel back in
1995 continues to be a growing trend
in our industry with users demanding
even greater levels of openness and
systems integration. The success of an
open architecture design is based on
the manufacturer’s ability to provide
tools in the product that allow the system
integrators, third-party solution
providers and even end users the ability
to make connections to other systems
without complexity. Advancements in
technology have provided unique tools
to aid in this.
Ironically, when Lenel first came out
with the industry-leading OnGuard software
product, many observers said that
an open platform would never be a viable
solution in the security industry. Now,
everyone speaks of open systems architecture
and design and its necessity in the
industry. “Open” as a mantra seems to
be everywhere these days, across every
product on the tradeshow floors.
What are the next levels of integration,
interoperability and openness that
we can look forward to? Traditionally,
in access control systems, the most proprietary
area resides at the embedded
system level, such as panels, peripherals
(IO), readers and cards.
A key driver for bringing open standards
to the embedded system level for
access control solutions is being driven
by the government. This is being led by
homeland security efforts with Personal
Identity Verification credentials, which
are an important development not just
for government but also for the security
industry in general. Homeland Security
Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12)
established a mandatory governmentwide
standard for secure and reliable
forms of ID issued by the federal government
to its employees and employees
of federal contractors for access to
federally controlled facilities.
While the short-term focus is on creating
secure credentials from trusted
sources for federal employees and contractors,
the bigger picture shows a future
state where government smart cards
can work across different manufacturers’
readers, have readers work across
different panels, and have panels work
across different software so they are no
longer locked into a proprietary model.
The problem for the government,
like commercial customers, is that in
the past end users needed to buy cards
and readers from the same company to
ensure proper integration. It also was
necessary to buy panels and peripherals
from the same company to achieve
interoperability. However, as readers
become IP-based and are decoupled
from the panels, that openness will be
required to move from the cards all the
way up to the panel level.
As a company, Lenel is moving in a
similar direction. In partnership with others, we have begun an initiative called open supervised device protocol (OSDP)
to promote peripheral compatibility and connectivity to panels. In addition, we are
evaluating how to deliver open interfaces and development environments for our
panels and embedded systems. This will allow third parties to drive integration into
these systems in a similar manner to Google with its Android operating systems.
Tying the Data Together
As greater systems integration has occurred within security, organizations have
wrestled with the challenges of having all the different sensors and systems work
together, from readers to cameras to motion detectors to thermostats and heating
and air conditioning controls. These represent different pieces of data coming into
a centralized system that must be managed by fragmented security infrastructures.
Presenting this enterprise-wide information in one central location adds a degree
of value for customers. However, there are bigger opportunities available.
Companies can enjoy multiple operational and cost efficiencies if the solutions
remove complexity and leverage analytics to provide correlations between all of
the different pieces of information available.
In the early 2000s, Lenel introduced the concept of “Total Security Knowledge
Management.” In essence, the goal was to provide connectivity to the various security
systems in a facility, offering users a seamless user interface with the ability to
minimize training and drive operating efficiencies into the system operating center
(SOC). Today, the new buzzword in the industry is called Physical Security Information
With today’s PSIM systems, users still have to leave all of their other systems
intact. So, if someone has access control systems from three different vendors, two
video systems and five intrusion systems, they don’t replace anything or minimize
the amount of system head-ends. All they are doing with PSIM is creating a super
overlay that aggregates data. This often comes with a cost of development to tie it
all together. No doubt there’s value in aggregating systems, but only if the end customer
benefit is added value, with reduced overall expense and system complexity.
How are overall expenses reduced? By pushing integration to lower levels within
the system. The ability to remove redundant head-end systems, consolidate databases
and allow for a seamless user experience will drive efficiencies for the end user.
Bringing It All Together
The next generation of integrated systems will not only encapsulate security systems
but also building controls. Operational efficiency is an important aspect of
building controls and security. Today, a new goal is the emphasis on energy savings.
Understanding that information requires a holistic approach to system integration
that pulls together building information, provides the analytics for the
reports and measurements, and is able to optimally configure and use facilities to
realize energy savings.
All of these different actions can occur from the different pieces of data that
can be aggregated by an access control system. Analytics and the ability to understand
what the events mean, and the correlations, are critical to the future advancement
of intelligent systems.
There are many technology changes occurring today. We are continually looking
to take these advances and bring them to the market to provide ever-increasing
value to our customers. In today’s world, the security industry can be sure of two
things: technology will advance, and the end user will demand ease of use because
Whether it’s video surveillance, open architecture and integration,
or physical access control, there will be change. With that
change, opportunity will be presented. Those who are nimble and
adapt quickly will win.
This article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of Security Today.