As the electronic security industry turns to the latest consumer technology to change the way users interact with security systems, it should come as little surprise that a growing wave of niche-hungry start ups is looking at security electronics.
THERE are a couple of recent releases that attract attention for their simplicity, the fact they integrate so much in very small packages. I think it would be a mistake to think of these as true security systems but it’s equally foolish to assume end users will not desire a similar level of features and flex from professional domestic security solutions in the future.
Whether this tech is a real commitment to the market or a fishing attempt for the sort of monster buyout we saw with Nest is a moot point. This clever stuff is coming and it will appeal to young people – life-long renters who have grown up with technology and who represent the next wave of customers.
GIVEN the increasing symbiosis between electronic security solutions and consumer and industrial technologies, it’s always instructive to think about the ways emerging technologies might impact on security electronics in the years ahead.
I can never think about this long before grounding on the sandbank of broader IT infrastructure, our own IP technologies, thickening cloud. It’s a duplex connection. At the same time digital technologies liberate our systems, they constrain us through the limitations of compression, bandwidth, storage, unrealistic cost and the painful proprietary aspirations of global players, each wanting to own the future.
EVEN if Australia has opted out of the NBN, it remains obvious where networks are going to in the future. Ultra broadband.
It’s always tough to talk about broadband with a straight face. Over-subscription and under investment in cable, fibre and wireless infrastructure by a whole ecosystem of ISPs means the majority of customers rarely get the services they pay for. But change is coming, regardless of the strictures of government and commercial expediency.
There’s no doubt that more bandwidth is desirable – the more bandwidth, the more desirable. And that’s precisely what the propeller-heads at Google have come up with. Broadband so beamy it makes our defunct national broadband network look petite.
ONE of the most pervasive news trends of the past 12 months has been projections of growth in the demand for security electronics and networks – not just slight growth but enormous growth. Not only are the numbers being thrown around very large, they seem to take in most parts of the market.
There’s growth in IP video. There’s growth in thermal cameras. There’s growth in the security demands of key utilities – and this latter is spread across the entire market – including intrusion detection, perimeter, fire, building management and access control. We’ve also seen projections of growth in areas like building management and home automation which recently saw a huge confidence play, with Google buying home automation manufacturer Nest Labs for more than $US3 billion.
Google’s acquisition of Nest Labs suggests big tech sees potential revenue in home automation and security. Though what sort of business model it believes will generate revenue is a little harder to say.
EVEN after everything we’ve seen going on in the monitoring market over the past 18 months, Google’s $US3.2 billion play for Nest Labs, an automation manufacturer founded in 2010 with a turnover of around $US300 million, seems extravagant.
CASTING your eye over an electronic security industry under pressure from changing user expectations, from changing manufacturing techniques, from changing routes to market, it’s easy to decide our business is under threat. There is some truth to this perception but it’s by no means the whole story. Fact is, there’s plenty to look forward to.
It’s certainly been an interesting 12 months. During the year we’ve watched Australia’s largest and most successful electronic security company begin to undertake a process of reinvention, seeking to streamline and reposition itself with a greater online presence and a sleeker backend. And we’ve watched as the previous year’s cutting edge technologies have become widespread, faster. We’ve also seen ongoing pressure on margins, a pressure I don’t think is going to go away any time soon.
We live in a competitive world. No sooner has cutting edge technology been developed than it’s shoe-horned into a matchbox of white plastic, its price shorn to the bone.
The chipset of today’s cutting edge video surveillance camera is the chipset of tomorrow’s retail or domestic cloud solution, leased to an end user at no visible cost, like some giveaway 4-zone alarm panel. And when I say tomorrow, I mean it literally. Right now the humblest $200 fixed mini domes and compact cameras are rumbling around powered by the most powerful HD processing engines. Can it go on indefinitely? I think not.
The Australian Coalition Government’s rapid move to shut down installation of the current National Broadband Network and move to an entirely different model may save money in the short term but it will hamper expansion and uptake of electronic security systems for decades to come.
NO doubt about it, the biggest news in monitoring this month is the new government’s quick action on the plan to cut back the $A45 billion national broadband network currently being rolled out across Australia. I think no matter which side of the political divide you sit, the presence of reliable, high-speed, future-proof NBN infrastructure was an appealing thought to electronic security people. With 1Gpbs download and 400Mpbs upload to each site, it promised fast, secure and dependable comms. If properly installed and maintained, it would have lasted many, many decades.
THERE’S something ugly out there, something that highlights the vulnerability of our networked security devices. Something that demands electronic security people start thinking about IT security.
It’s Shodan, for Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network, a search engine contrived by John Matherly back in 2009. Shodan snuffles around searching for servers, computers, routers, web cams, security cameras, cars, heart monitors, networked alarm systems, traffic lights, power station controls - anything with an IP address.
This search engine employs filters to undertake its searches and it hunts for anything programmed to answer a request. Using it, hackers have access millions upon millions of unprotected or poorly protected network connected devices.
OUR cover story for September looks at the changes sweeping the IT industry, recognising that our symbiosis with IT means security electronics and networks people and their products cannot avoid being swept along for the ride.
While I was writing that feature I started thinking about the broader impact of technological change and how it’s likely to flow through over the next 5 years. For a start what’s interesting is that the technologies proliferating are those change the way people interact with information. That information might be data, friends, systems, video, music – it’s the interface that’s the key here.