There were plenty of new things to see at SecTech Roadshow

SECTECH Roadshow is always a good place to get an idea of how technology is developing in the Australian market. The nature of the roadshow demands exhibitors bring products and technologies that catch the eye – you’re not getting the full range, just the eye teeth.

Being able to get a hold on the pointy end of electronic security technology is no bad thing and SecTech Roadshow 2018 gave visitors the perfect opportunity to do so. SecTech roadies brought along their newest and coolest solutions and it was interesting to see what was popular and what was not.

There’s always plenty of CCTV gear at SecTech – we saw that again this year. Something else we saw having a big impact was access control and security solutions, and security and home automation solutions. One exhibitor remarked that it was as if installers had just woken up to the possibilities of the latest home automation solutions. Another suggested technicians simply wanted to connect with devices again. At the same time, a couple of installers pointed out they rarely had a chance to see new products in the flesh and were making sure they saw as much as possible while they could.

The attraction of traditional forms of security packaged as alarm, intercom, CCTV camera, addressable switch is enhanced by the maturity of this part of the market. There’s no question these days whether wireless home automation solutions are reliable, nor is there any doubt about their capability to be driven using mobile apps, which are now familiar to most installers, as well as the user market.

Perhaps something else was driving the interest – new product cadence is up – there were home automation and security solutions at SecTech that many had never seen before, as well as new and enhanced devices from respected brands, many of which reach market in different ways. The fact home automation systems now offer 2MP surveillance cameras might not sound like a big thing, but it greatly increases their appeal with users weaned on HDTV, not QCIF.

We also saw some leaning in from companies like Dahua and Hikvision around intercoms and access control. It’s not new but it’s a growing push and supported by quality distributors, there’s zero chance we’re not going to see pressure in this part of the market. At the same time, I heard comments that showed access control and its collective sub systems are where there’s still worthwhile profit to be made. Access control is not over-cooked by any means but it’s going to become more competitive moving forward.

There was a lot of heat around IVA, too. Most surveillance manufacturers have some element of analytics in their firmware and there are now high-end solutions from the likes of Imagus, Ipsotek and Davantis, as well as mature analytics from companies like Bosch, FLIR, Mobotix, Hikvision, Dahua, Dallmeier, Network Optix and Pelco. There was definite interest and not just from installers and integrators but from end users, too, who are increasingly looking to enhance their return on investment and increase operational fluidity.

SecTech Camera Shootout, sponsored by CSD and Milestone, also told us things about the latest cameras. Organisers went for fixed camera types to iron out some of the variations we’ve seen in the past – huge lenses and beta-type camera bodies. What we saw during the shootout was a general improvement in performance across the board. We’re going to review the shootout in more depth elsewhere but there were plenty of good things to say about most the cameras on test.

Of note were improvements in WDR handling with external domes and bullets, as well as a reduction in motion blur across the board. We did see some elevated bit rates but it’s hard not to see engineers’ willingness to blow out bitrate as a tacit recognition of evolving infrastructure. The piddling bit rates installers were trying to deal with in the past are nothing in the face of anywhere-you-like 30-50Mb 4G LTE comms.

At the same time, we saw some manufacturers – Vivotek springs most immediately to mind – that showed very low bitrates alongside good operational results. Elsewhere there was evolution, too. Better processors, enhanced firmware, more stable software platforms and better integration. The market is maturing – not only in time, but in terms of alliances and mutually beneficial sharing of IP.

Perhaps the thing that stood out most at SecTech Roadshow was the professionalism of all distributors who carry and support end-to-end networked and integrated security solutions. No capable electronic security integrator is a hands-off box mover and the most engaged of the distributors seemed to do best at the Roadshow, underscoring the fundamental importance of relationships and technical nous as the recipe for success in the fast-moving electronic security industry.