SOMETHING SEN talks about with monotonous regularity is ‘operational requirements’ yet we consistently see products and applications which leave us wondering whether or not these imperatives got lost somewhere during the process of design and installation.

It’s easy to see how this might happen when considering the complexity of many solutions and the variable performance parameters of much of the technology currently available. There’s also the cognitive bias inevitably introduced by products a company sells or installs. That pointed saying that when you’re holding a hammer every problem looks like a nail applies to electronic security solutions, as well.

Manufacturers and integrators tend to follow different paths toward solutions and that can leave end users with systems that don’t fully meet their requirements. For manufacturers and distributors – and this depends on the size of the system and the nature of the supplier – a sale of hardware and software is not necessarily the sale of a functioning solution. Meanwhile, integrators struggle to learn systems on the go while massaging them to fit a customer’s endlessly organic network topologies and operational topographies.

The challenges of meeting operational requirements are not made any easier when solutions are over-sold as offering capabilities they can’t quite attain. You can see this in a small way with compact CCTV cameras that are alleged to deliver crystal clear images in .002 lux, or access control and security management solutions that purport to offer ‘total control of your global enterprise’. Taking such claims at face value and trying to apply them to the operational imperatives of serious end users is certain to end in a mixture of egg and face.

In an industry like electronic security, which always has and likely always will, exist at the bleeding edge of technological development, viewing everything through an operational prism is vital. And you need to carry that intense focus all the way through the process of applying any solution, from start to finish. It can’t be only about a nebulous global fix, either. Each component of a system needs to be examined for operational fitness.

I once saw an application in which the same camera had been used throughout a complex and challenging site and at the end of my walk-through it was clear the end user was angry about something he’d not had an opportunity to unload on before. What that something turned out to be was that in particular operating conditions in vital areas of the business, multiple cameras were completely blind. It was an intense example of a loss of operational focus. An entire solution, an installer’s reputation and an end user’s ability to legitimately operate under the law had been compromised to save a few hundred dollars.

It’s not the only time I’ve seen such things. Another time a management systems showed serious operational flaws that a good-natured end user had convinced themselves met an acceptable level of performance, despite introducing strange extended latency in cameras of the highest quality. The application demanded the highest level of live performance at key times to support law enforcement personnel, the solution resided on a beautiful purpose-built network, yet it did not meet the foundational operational requirement.

End users, installers and integrators and consultants must ask, and manufacturers and distributors must answer the most searching questions about attaining real world functionality from electronic security solutions. What do you need? How can you deliver a solution that meets this need?

We are at a point in time where, from an operational perspective, 2 opposing trends have intersected. The first trend is an increase in serious threat profile. The second trend is a reluctance to invest in high quality operational outcomes. It’s inevitable that every day, in thousands of applications, these trends continually meet.

Operational challenges form the centrepiece of Security and Government Expo (click here for more), which will be held in Canberra on November 3 from 12-6pm. The event is organised by SEN in partnership with ASIS ACT is it’s the perfect opportunity for end users, integrators and suppliers to go eyeball-to-eyeball over their most challenging security requirements. Be sure you don’t miss it. ♦

By John Adams