Yeah, we know. This virtual server looks nothing like a security controller.

We’ve had another 12 months of evolution in the electronic security industry – nothing new about that – but there are some trends that are increasingly pushing through the surface of inertia into clearer view.

It’s these trends that have had most impact on my thoughts around the best electronic security solutions of the last 12 months. SEN’s full review of the year’s products will hit the EDM in February but we’ll explore our sense of the best solutions of the year here.

After Security 2019 we talked about the way communications and software were impacting on the market and since then that impression has grown stronger. It’s a trend that’s not only being seen in new releases but is shouldering its way into the thoughts of end users and into tender specifications, as well. End user demands are going to drive the industry at virtual servers, SaaS and cloud more quickly than many realise and those demands are all about efficiency.

It should come as no surprise that improvements in internet speed and the increasing reliability of networks and network components are playing a role here. Customers are looking at their network structures in a whole new way, with cloud and data centres becoming more central to system design. It’s the type of users that are leading the drive that resonates most. They are serious customers in corporate and government organisations whose demands it’s impossible to ignore.

We were hit with this change at Security & Government Expo 2019 last month, when the head of ASIO T4 gave a compelling precis of where the organization had come from and where it was headed. The areas of gravest concern for the technological gatekeepers of government security solutions revolved around ensuring security in an integrated world – most telling, ASIO T4 called for the security industry’s help to meet the challenges.

The current state of the market displays a blurring of defined boundaries between systems and operating solutions. There’s increasing overlap between platforms and manufacturers and this process is going to accelerate, pulled forward by the gravity of a shift towards a kind of seamlessness I doubt any of us would have considered possible a few year’s ago.

Bastions of proprietary tech now look at the products of competitors in a new way – through the eyes of customers clamouring to focus their technological consciousness into a single point. This means integrations that used to be about device drivers have become about melding entire disciplines – pushing and levering and teasing systems of all kinds into distilled dashboards that present users only what they need to negotiate the challenges of the moment.

None of this should be taken to mean quality devices are not vital to system performance but the way these devices will be addressed in the future is going to be different and the processes customers take to integrate enterprise-wide solutions will consume capital that might have been spent elsewhere.

The potency of the ecosystem can’t be denied – the company has reached a tipping point in terms of success that’s likely to see growth accelerate – its success will encourage competitors. Other new products that have jumped out over the year include Brivo OnAir Pass, Salto SK, AnyVision face recognition and Nirovision’s cloud-based analytics.

A trend to watch is use of smart devices as credentials and system management interfaces. Smart devices as credentials sounds old hat we’ve been talking about it so long but after years of pioneering work by HID, the pace of penetration is quickening. Almost every serious access control player has an app of polish and reliability.

Having tested Hikvision Darkfighter X 4MP PTZ with 35x optical zoom we found this camera delivers security teams enormous power. Hik is also taking bites of the residential market with its video intercom solutions – growth is extraordinary built around a capable and economical solution. There’s nothing supernatural about the latest generation of Chinese hardware devices but they combine reliability, solid functionality and pointy pricing.

Bosch FLEXIDOME IP starlight 8000i won an ASIAL Best Product Award this year and deserved it – a great camera. Gallagher Security Health Check utility also deserves a mention here. It’s designed to allow users to run an automated check via their Gallagher Command Centre system at any time, reducing the time and expense of performing regular manual audits and it just won a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Award.

We also liked the Fujifilm SX800 long range camera, the Paradox HD series all-in-one motion detector and ethernet/Wi-Fi camera, HID’s multispectral fingerprint reader, 2GIG eSeries controllers and the Axis Q6215-LE 1080p, PTZ camera with 30x optical zoom and 400 metre IR. Also appealing were the Hanwha’s HAN-XNP-6550RH 2MP IR PTZ camera with 55x zoom and the Optex WX Infinity Series of outdoor intrusion sensors with 2 independent 90-degree detection areas that offer 180-degree detection coverage within a 12m radius. Impressive.

It’s nice to see there are still plenty of quality hardware devices to go with the clever software solutions currently being delivered to the market. A trend in 2019 that’s certain to leach into the new year is integrated security sensors – Paradox HD springs to mind but the 2GIG smoke, heat and freeze sensor also fits the bill.

Integriti version 19 from Inner Range – this was already a highly evolved solution and the addition an improved camera interface and evidence vault takes this to the next level. Users can view multiple cameras using a variety of standard layout configurations, control items associated with cameras, tweak tours, camera views, evidence clips and more.

Having taken a closer look at the Tecom ecosystem in recent weeks, it’s impossible not to be pleased with it – there’s a lot to think about in that product stack. I like Tecom ChallengerPlus, which delivers ‘a building on a board’ and backs that hardware up with solid software with potential for evolution and a secure cloud path. TecomC4 is another winner from Interlogix. Being able to bring multiple systems together affordably is going to be central to the future of suppliers and integrators. A free PSIM that’s under constant user and manufacturer development is a beautiful thing.

The latest version of Saab OneView is an if/then business rules integration platform topped by a lightweight management system that sits above any collection of integrated sub systems and aggregates system-wide events to give profound situational awareness, quickfire response to unfolding events and complex reporting via a single portal. The OneView interface is a thing of simple beauty – I really enjoyed reviewing it earlier in the year.

Genetec Security Center 5.8 probably exemplifies the new market direction best – the company’s sense of the future has proved unusually penetrating. It takes a capacity for technological synthesis and a double helping of self-belief to successfully ambush a market. With Security Center 5.8 Genetec has presented us with its most highly evolved expression of the future yet.