If anything is going to shape the nature of the alarm monitoring industry in years to come it will be the way people interact with information. It’s a seismic shift the industry still doesn’t seem to be entirely on top of.
YOU don’t have to walk far around Sydney’s streets to realise that every second person is walking online. Because I trudge through the CBD to work and because I find the practise of walking online deeply infuriating, I’m well positioned to have noticed this trend. It’s impossible to view such behaviour, in which humans seem to have internalised their latest-gen smart devices, without wondering about its impact on the way people would like to use broader technology.
YOU can’t stand on the brink of a new year without wondering what the future holds for our industry.
We’ve all read about the financial situation in the Europe, the possible slow-down of China, the stop-start recovery in the U.S. now overshadowed by an oil price-war, our own resources boom waning yet bolstered by falling currency and interest rates. Then there's the loom of acquisition with all its uncertainties. Given the intellectual labour of making sense of all these variables it’s easier to focus on something over which we have control, like the TV remote.
SEN editor John Adams speaks with Axis Communications CEO Ray Mauritsson about business trends, new developments in technology and the challenges and opportunities of the future.
JA: How is the Axis business going right now?
RM: I think over the last 2 years we’ve seen a little bit of a slowdown in our growth rate. There are 2 components to this – one is that the market is more mature – more companies have already made the transition from analogue to digital – the other reason on a global basis is that we have seen on a geographical level a couple of areas that have slowed down.
Businesses and organisations wondering about ways they might have mitigated the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris, are going to need to concentrate hard on the basics. The challenge for security managers is finding ways to protect businesses and sites that need to be accessed by customers, contractors and staff.
In Paris, parallel attacks were carried out by radical Islamists who claimed to be members of Islamic State and Yemeni Al Qaeda. They killed 11 staff at the office of satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, as well as killing a police officer. Meanwhile, an accomplice killed another police officer and later 4 customers at a kosher deli in a Jewish district. The attackers used automatic weapons and military techniques.
Year’s end is always an opportune moment to take a look at the state of the market, considering its current drivers, shifts in technology and consider the shape of the coming year.
In 2014, installers, integrators and end users continued to be overwhelmed with quality choices across most electronic security product segments. Given the maturity of the electronic security market it’s unlikely things are going to change. We’re going to see better performance, easier installation and improved user interfaces. We’re also going to continue to see prices drifting downwards, while high end feature sets push their way down product lines.
Lack of training is pushing electronic security technology into the realm of DIY
AFTER speaking with integrators a couple of months ago, as well as chatting with trainers at SIG, it’s been hard not to notice certain product trends in the industry.
Alarm panels that self-install, surveillance systems that find themselves over networks. I made the point in last month’s editorial that pressure on price was going to see poor quality solutions installed by the unqualified installers but during the month I got to thinking that the issue was more profound than that.
Perhaps the catalyst for my thoughts was Naren Gursahaney of ADT who said his company “recognizes the incredible opportunity developing” in the unmonitored, do-it-yourself (DIY) product segment that he rightly points out is largely unpenetrated by traditional security solutions. And thinking about this it seems there’s a confluence of forces coming that the industry in this country may have significant cause to regret.
A majority of residents are favour the idea of smart homes
A recent study suggests homeowners like the idea of automation and consider safety and security monitoring to be automation’s central role. But they have their own ideas about installation and monitoring.
LOWE’S 2014 Smart Home Survey reveals a majority of residents are favour the idea of smart homes. But some contradictory findings include that while around 50 per cent prefer do-it-yourself solutions, 62 per cent believe home automation solutions are most beneficial for real time monitoring of safety and security. At the same time, nearly 30 per cent of home owners want domestic access control solutions they can control remotely from smart devices or workstations.
John Adams talks to S2’s R. Todd Smith about the open platform electronic security company’s growth, challenges facing the client-server architecture model and the subtle definition of open architecture.
JA: How is the S2 business going, Todd? We’ve had a pretty tough last 5 years. Are you continuing to experience growth globally in the current market?
RTS: Yes, we are doing very well. We now have a range of very high-profile global accounts in addition to local business we do in the U.S. We manufacture all our products in the U.S. so we can keep control of quality and our IP-based solutions are economical to install and maintain. We are making inroads in Australia, too. We are represented here by BGWT and they have strong sales and support capability and plenty of stock.
JA: What do you put the success of the company down to?
Technical training failing to produce a new generation
SEN spent years droning on about technical training in a bid to encourage the creation of national technical standards for electronic security installers. Other organisations have taken up the torch at various times over intervening years but none has succeeded.
Whether this is an issue relating to the challenge of getting consensus between the educational systems of multiple states, or whether it’s been a lack of financial application is a moot point. Something that has not changed in all those years is the lack of capable technicians. Decades after the last Wormald apprentices came through, the situation is worse than it’s ever been. Technology has not stayed still, yet the addition of networking as a new support strata has not removed the need for installers and integrators to have a handle on the fundamentals of electronics.
Hikvision is the world’s largest video surveillance and electronic security manufacturer. It’s a towering achievement considering Hikvision didn’t make its first DVR until 2004. But what’s behind the company’s phenomenal success?
ARRIVING in China after a long flight, I spend a Sunday mooching around Hangzhou with Hikvision’s Daniel Huang and Michael Bates. The idea is to get a sense of the city and of Chinese culture before visiting Hikvision’s head office and factory - to get a feel for what lies behind the Hikvision story.