NBN: Whos Steering The Electronic Security Industry
While it may not seem obvious, it appears to me that we are, at least in part, inevitably becoming part of the broader telecommunications industry and there may be enormous opportunities for companies able to develop ways to exploit new infrastructure to offer real world services. There’s no question many of our current breed of networked surveillance and access control solutions are perfectly designed for operation on a secure layer in a national broadband network. That means for the electronic and networked security industry an NBN is a positive thing.The planned 93 per cent fibre penetration of the nation’s homes and businesses is something that will have benefits for alarm monitoring as well as IP video and access control systems. Along with affordable upload and download it will be possible to undertake remote monitoring, offsite storage, enterprise-wide access control management for SMEs and plenty more. But it’s not all plain sailing. At a luncheon held in Sydney by Lan-1 at the end of last year, ATUG’s David Swift explained the importance of service level agreements to retailers and end users of telecommunications services. Swift insisted that the NBN needed to allow all layers of providers to offer concrete service agreements as to uptime and performance, and while he did not say the words, an SLA must include security of communications. These points are vital to our industry. Will end users be forced to pay for private WANs as they are today in order to move video images around town centres and cities, or will they be able to traverse low cost public networks? When you consider the enormous of network infrastructure now being absorbed by security budgets, the importance of an affordable, reliable and secure NBN grows keener. A key issue for our industry is who has their hands on the wheel during this challenging time. So far the industry has bumped its way through the wheel ruts of the digital revolution without too much damage done but it would be a mistake to say the driver hasn’t been pure market force. With the NBN things are different. The opportunities are too great for the industry not to at least consider what its needs might be in a broadband WAN environment and register those requirements with NBN Co. Those needs obviously include secure layers, reliability, widespread interconnectivity, redundancy in comms and power, as well as the physical security of network infrastructure. Something else we need to take into account is the sorts of new entrants who are looking at the potential recurring revenues of our industry with eager eyes. Many are huge telcos or media providers who will look to bundle services at competitive rates. Consider that many years ago it was internal data networks that were leveraged by banks themselves to wrest their branch lucrative monitoring contracts away the security industry and either manage them inhouse or contract them en masse and on their own terms. Clearly, an NBN to all doors that allowed the smaller businesses as well as commercial precincts and residential areas to package their monitored alarms and contract them out in bulk and on favourable terms is both a threat and an opportunity. Something else that’s important is getting end users on board in advance. Multi-site users need to understand how the NBN might be leveraged to enhance their existing or planned electronic and networked security systems and they need to plan their infrastructure taking these needs into account. There’s no point staying on the sidelines and waiting for the NBN to happen to us. When you consider the commercial possibilities and social benefits of services like affordable video monitoring, video alarm verification and real time monitoring of remote system status there’s too much at stake to play a waiting game.