BGWT’s Rob Meachem is one of electronic security distribution’s most experienced leaders. Now tasked with taking BGW Technologies to next level, he discusses the company and the opportunities and challenges facing the distribution market. In the Interview this month, Rob talks with SEN editor, John Adams.
JA: How does it feel to be back in the electronics security industry, Rob? Are you enjoying yourself?
RM: It feels great but to be honest, having so many strong relationships and friendships in the industry, I hardly felt I ever left. Certainly, a lot has changed in 2 years and I’m loving being a part of helping to grow this young business.
JA: Tell us about BGWT, it’s a bigger company than many people in the local security industry realise, isn’t it?
THERE have been so many mergers and acquisitions in the electronic security market over the past 12 months it’s enough to make your head spin.
Honeywell has bought Xtralis, is looking to divest its Building Controls business and has talked merger with UTC. Ingram Micro is being bought by HNA, Apollo has bought ADT, Johnson Controls and Tyco are merging, FLIR has acquired DVTEL, Hanwha has bought Samsung Techwin and Canon has acquired Axis and Milestone. What do these acquisitions mean for installers, integrators and end users? Do changes of ownership undermine the nature of an organisation, disrupt its lines of product development? And what is the motivation for the current flood of M&A activity?
Home automation is continuing to trend, with overseas takeup suggesting it’s likely local monitoring providers who are doubling down on home automation capability are on the track.
ELECTRONIC security systems, home and office automation solutions and broadband internet and cloud continue to enhance and complement one another – so much so it seems that automation solutions are beginning to look as if they may attain ubiquity. Is it likely the homes and SMEs of the future will expect automation capability that combines intrusion detection, access control and video surveillance as a matter of course – that all well-designed secure and energy efficient homes will include considerable levels of automation?
TECHNOLOGICAL development in every area of security electronics has become tectonic – the underlying layers are all in motion.
It’s a paradigm that demands more from everyone – more development, more education, more technical training, more standards, more open-mindedness. And behind this new paradigm we’re seeing more investment in infrastructure, facilitating expansion of the capabilities of solutions - demanding a living and breathing comprehension of multiple layers of networking. Everywhere in the market there’s change. You see it in management software, in control panels, in devices – whether cameras or intrusion alarm sensors, or access control readers and expanders. And much of this change swirls around the governing imperatives of networkability and integration.
What were the most influential products and technologies of 2015? It’s always difficult to find a balance between the solutions that catch the market’s momentary attention and those solutions that will go on to have a serious impact on the way we conduct our business.
KEY products and technologies in 2015 included mobile app management of security and automation solutions, improvements in CCTV camera technology – particularly increased resolution, reduced bitrates and larger sensor sizes - and the ongoing process of developing management solutions that allow single-workstation management of multiple subsystems, locally and globally. Other trends include falling costs, the elevation of risk for law enforcement agencies and other government departments, as well as in public spaces.
ELECTRONIC security has always been about finding a balance between dichotomous needs; hair trigger sensitivity, yet reliability; easy access, yet high security; low light performance yet wide dynamic range; high resolution, yet low bit rate; low price yet high quality; ease of installation, yet powerful integration.
Looking back over 2015, it’s possible to see the tension imposed by all these improbable bedfellows, to see the ways in which the laws of physics and the forces of the market end up shaping our solutions, rough hew them how we will. Alongside these conflicting demands, however, it’s also possible to see the shape of a future beginning to emerge. It’s a powerful future.
Martin Gren, Axis Communications' Founding Father
IP camera pioneer Axis Communications’ co-founder Martin Gren talks about developing the world’s first IP camera, the nature of core IP camera performance, and the present and future of video surveillance technology.
JA: Martin, you’ve been with Axis since 1984 – it must be highly rewarding to have been so successful – was there a point at which you realised the company was going to grow so fast and become so large? Does the business still give you moments of wonder, of pleasure?
IF there is a perfect price performance crossover – the spot on an axis in which price and performance intersect in just the right way – it seems DIY camera makers have failed to find it when it comes to home automation systems.
As installers know, there’s a point at which spending less on hardware buys you more trouble, not more margin. But consumers have a lot to learn, if a recent study by Argus Insights is anything to go by.
“According to overall consumer feedback, there is immense room for improvement,” Argus wrote in its report. “Distrust from consumers about the reliability of connected devices is obstructing growth in consumer adoption (of home automation).”
AFTER 132 people were murdered and 352 wounded in Paris by multiple teams from a local cell of Islamic State on Friday night, it’s impossible for security people not to wonder whether anything could have been done to stop the carnage.
Protecting public space from attackers whose hatred runs so deep they can machine gun young civilians in a music hall is fraught. Security teams and law enforcement personnel cannot protect all spaces. The best they can do is detect threats at the door, or use electronic security systems to detect the images or sounds charateristic of an attack, and provide on-site or rapid emergency services response to subdue attackers and succour victims.
The global internet of things is coming, driven by demographics, as well as by the pursuit of new revenue streams. Is the electronic security industry ready? Surprisingly so, and may benefit in multiple ways.
WHEN it comes to phrases of jargon, there’s nothing quite so popular in the technology sector right now as the internet of things. The nature of this ecosystem, its topology and any functional form of user interface remain utterly nebulous. Given the glacial uptake of proprietary cloud, the concept of socialist cloud may well be beyond the bounds of a coherent business model. Even its acronym is annoying.