Customers are driving changes, the open platform has become the industry standard
- By Scott Ridder
- Jun 18, 2020
Integrated security solutions have become standard within
the security industry, but recent years have seen a shift in
the way companies want to manage their integrations. This
trend has been driven by customers, who want to see security
companies working in collaborative partnerships to create
systems that offer the right functionality for them.
These integrations have traditionally been focused on bringing
functionality into the security or access control system. Security
companies have brought on board integrated functionality
while ensuring their software remained at the center of the
While this approach has allowed customers to increase the
functionality of their security system, simplify interactions for
security system users, and consolidate audit trails, it doesn’t necessarily
cater to the unique requirements of each customer’s site.
THE RESEARCH SHOWS
Customer research has shown they want the ability to run their
security systems through the platform that most effectively meets
their needs. For example, sites that utilize access control and manage
large areas of freely accessible public space, such as shopping
malls, sports stadiums, and supermarkets, and whose site monitoring
is primarily through their video management system, have
indicated they would benefit from having some form of access
control integrated into their video management system.
This integration would allow them to quickly and easily manage
access control in response to live video footage. We’ve had
similar indications from the fast-growing cannabis market across
North America, where close integrations are vital in ensuring operators
meet very specific compliance needs.
Where an access control system is the primary system for
maintaining site security, such as at university campuses and hospitals,
sites want the ability to integrate functionality like elevator
control, video management, or complementary security products
like wireless access control into their access control system.
Security manufacturers have been challenged to step away
from aligning integrations around their own products, and instead
identify the core functionality required by customers, in
order to push or pull information into the applicable systems and
create the right solutions for each customer.
Customers and manufacturers both benefit from this approach.
Collaborative partnerships, where companies are working
together at the manufacturing level, encourage cooperation
and information sharing, and carry opportunities for joint marketing
Customers benefit from shared product knowledge between
the companies, which provides them with a valuable solution that
utilizes the best technologies across systems, and, if a fault arises,
these companies have the business relationships to enable a collaborative
approach to resolve the problem.
In addition to driving a change in the way security companies integrate
with one another, customers are also managing their own
integrations through the application of open interfaces.
Security manufacturers are commonly providing a standard
integrating platform which developers can use too quickly and cost
effectively allow a site to integrate their disparate systems. These
interfaces need to comply with modern programming standards,
providing a generic, efficient, and – most importantly – a secure
platform for integrating partners to develop upon.
An important aspect of these platforms is to ensure they are
“forward compatible,” meaning once the integration is written,
it will continue to operate with future versions of the security
platform. These qualities give project managers and enterprise
architects confidence in judging the risk and effort required to
integrate the desired functionality, and subsequently increase the
uptake of those using these integrating platforms.
This practice is becoming increasingly common; over the past
12 months, Gallagher has seen a 300 percent increase in the uptake
of programming interfaces. This increase is typically driven
by larger sites writing their own integrations to create a fit-for
purpose security system unique to their organization.
There are numerous reasons why a site would choose to do this,
rather than adopting an ‘off-the-shelf’ integration. It could be to
improve operator experience and simplify training by having all systems
running through a single platform, to simplify administration
by integrating data for a single source of information, or to push
alarms through to the correct department to respond to – for example,
sending server and network related alarms to the I.T. department,
or site lockdown alarms direct to a police dispatch system.
With customers driving changes to the way integrations are
managed in the security industry, it’s clear the product-centric approach
traditionally used by security manufacturers is no longer
relevant. Enduring, collaborative partnerships
and an open approach to managing integrations
is the key to creating security solutions
that truly meet the needs of our customers.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of Security Today.