Now we’ve reached the mid-pint of 2008 it’s becoming clear
that the electronic security industry is going to be a hybrid for some time. As
a result our techs are going to need to be able to handle analog electronics
and IT environments equally well. There’s no question the electronic security
industry has always been, at its extremes, among the most demanding of
industries from a technical perspective. Quality techs working for major
integrators have long had to grapple with everything from internal to external
sensing, cameras and optics, custom hardware, cabling, power supply and
illumination.

If that’s not enough, our industry sprawls into local and
remote comms – wireless and wired – as well as pressing up against building management
and fire control. An electronic security integrator of quality is as likely to
be installing a powered gate as a biometric access control device, an external
infrared illuminator as a major residential intercom system.

Now networking has been thrown onto this heap and like any
good ogre, it’s a beast with many layers. As we all know, there have been
elements of networking in our industry for decades, tucked away among the dark
arts of access control. But now there’s more networking, much more. So much
more it’s impossible to cram the nature of the new networking into a single
definition.

Is a remote IP camera accessed via a web browser the only true
networked system? Or is networking a globally networked solution of door
controllers with backdoor NICs accessed by a central controlling workstation?
Is it a proprietary DVR with an RJ-45 port supporting remote monitoring after
hours by a property manager? Or is networking megapixel cameras recorded in a
data centre and accessed via a mysterious network cloud with utterly impossible
bandwidth?

Any thoughtful industry commentator is going to come to the
same conclusion here. Networking it not a digital Holy Grail comprised of
off-the-shelf IT hardware with not a breath of analog in sight. Networking is layers
of substrates upon which electronic security technologies of all kinds can be transmitted,
monitored and managed. Networking is all these examples and hundreds more. Networking
is whatever phantasm your application bends it to be. 

Anyone with any doubts about the hybrid era should consider
the fact that while IP camera volumes are growing, analog camera sales volumes
are growing, too. The point of parity between the 2 is predicted to be as far off
as 10-15 years. That’s an enormous distance in technological terms. Consider
that 15 years ago those old enough to be working were booting up their
computers with magnetic disks the size of place mats.

Is any of this a problem you ask? Not at all. But what it does
mean is that the electronic security industry, already a challenging
environment for our young techs, is going to get more complex than ever before.
It’s a mistake not to recognize the fact that today’s security electronics
people have been shaped by a unique period impossible to replicate with a
single training course. Our success or failure in passing on this sprawling
pool of knowledge to our young people will ultimately decide our industry’s
future.

“Networking it not a digital Holy Grail comprised of
off-the-shelf IT hardware with not a breath of analog in sight. Networking is layers
of substrates upon which electronic security technologies of all kinds can be transmitted,
monitored and managed. Networking is whatever phantasm your application bends
it to be”