The security industry is seeing a shift in some of the foundational technologies that have been used over the years – POTS lines to Alternative Signal (Alt-Sig) Transmissions, for example – and any business looking to succeed in the future needs to understand these changes.
At the same time, new technologies are making their way into the industry from other markets – whether it’s IP products coming over from the IT industry or home automation from the custom electronics market.
Security integration companies have the opportunity to position themselves as experts, and in order to help you succeed, we asked veteran NTS instructors to discuss some of the new technologies they see making an impact on the market.
Overwhelmingly, the biggest technology trend these instructors identified is the shift to IP connectivity.
"IP communication is a major game changer for our industry,” says Larry Mann, Project Manager at Central Station, Inc. "Dealers need to accept that POTS is no longer a viable communication technology and they should embrace IP-based communication technology. That includes training the technicians in setting up, troubleshooting and managing IP networks.
"As more consumers adopt wireless IP communication for their facilities, an understanding of basic network troubleshooting will be necessary to eliminate conflicts with media servers, IP-enabled TVs and alarm systems.”
Jason Sokol, Operations Manager for Wallingford, CT-based Monitor Controls Inc., says that with IP, companies can now offer value-added services. "We are not just selling security systems. You can add video or temperature monitoring and be able to access any of the technology from your computer or, even better, your smart phone,” he says.
"There has also been a major growth in IP-connected video systems, which allow the public to view the home or business surveillance video on their Internet-enabled mobile device,” says Mann. "IP video can also be a portion of a home automation system, which has also shown major growth over the past three years.”
Home automation, traditionally offered by custom electronics dealers, now ties in with integrated security systems, and manufacturers and large national companies are helping to drive their sales.
"The manufacturers have introduced home automation into lower cost entry-level panels that will meet the needs of more of the mainstream population, which should drive new installations and growth to the installation companies, says Mann. "An installation company can use home automation to add value to the basic security system, especially when the control of the automation package is IP based.”
If security integration companies are going to succeed, they’ll need to focus on becoming IP experts, according to Joel Kent of FBN Security Company.
"This is so obvious because if you look at the large national companies, they all have a network/IT group with almost no security experience. They rely on the alarm technicians to connect to their network. Over the next year, the technician that cannot operate a laptop on site and perform basic IT functions to interconnect the system to the network will fall farther behind,” he says.
The other instructors agree.
"Learn network topology to include establishing static and dynamic network addresses and troubleshooting conflict between devices, routers and other connected devices,” says Mann. "This will be the basics for connecting digital video recorders, security and fire alarm systems, and home automation and low voltage control systems to personal mobile devices and the remote monitoring centers.
"An installation company can install an 8 or 16 camera system in a few hours but can spend the next day and half trying to get the IP communication to a remote or mobile device established,” adds Mann.
"Learn what an IP address is and how the information gets from the client’s home/business to their smartphone/computer,” says Sokol.
While the shift to IP affects a number of interconnected systems, it’s not the only technology change dealers need to understand.
"PERS (Personal Emergency Response Systems) will become popular due to the aging of the Baby Boomers and their existing familiarity with security systems,” says Joseph Hayes of All Country Security, Inc. "As they downsize and relocate, PERS will be a necessity.”
"Video verification transmitted via network cameras will become popular as more folks acquire broadband connections and Police departments push for verification of alarm signals,” adds Hayes.
"In addition is the change in communications paths, such as the obsolescence of copper phone lines and the addition of VoIP,” says Sokol.
As technology continues to evolve, and dealers continue to adapt, industry education is doing the same.
"NTS courses are incorporating the need for IT and network knowledge in the newest courses,” says Kent. "In 2012, the alarm technicians will have to be more IT and network savvy to survive. The more we learn, the more we need to learn. Technology is moving faster and faster. Where we used to go 5 years before major technology shifts in the industry, we now see 10-14 months between introduction and obsolescence (and replacement) of new technologies.”
"The technology used in the industry is dynamic and is always changing and adapting as new advances are introduced and accepted by the consumers,” says Mann.
"This change has been accelerated in the last few years due to the advances driven by the consumer computer industry. The security industry can take advantage of the consumers’ acceptance of technology to increase or offer new value added services that would increase the dealer’s revenue,” adds Mann.
"Current technology is changing the face of the security industry,” says Sokol. "Alarm systems are no longer a keypad, motions, contacts and a phone line. We have integration with building automation, lighting, temperature, video, and more.”
"Migration to IP is where the world is going, and our industry must go along to survive. It's lead, follow or get out of the way,” says Hayes.