Best Security Products of 2019
Brivo OnAir offers access control management based on a mobile platform: Big image is Genetec's Security Desk.
What were the best electronic security products of 2019 and where do they fit into the fast evolving security market of the future as we move forward into a new decade? Turns out things are even more complicated than they look.
Product evolution, partnerships, integration, cloud – these are some of the standard characteristics of successful products in 2019. The opaqueness and open-ness to interpretation inherent in such concepts don’t help us, either. In the past we might have noted the release of dozens of cutting-edge new solutions over a 12-month period, but the market is so mature that the nature of its evolution has changed – it’s a linear process, not a series of jumps.
Something that was clear in 2019 was that operational concerns remain paramount. Users want more functionality, more reliability, more information and they want more automation, too. It’s a combination that’s driving the market towards smaller security teams and the outsourcing of security management. The security function is going to be no less susceptible to the wave of automation overtaking many industries – in fact our market is ripe for it.
As the next few years unfold, we’ll see an increase in the number of solutions leveraging artificial intelligence. Exactly how this will impact in areas like face recognition is hard to call, as some government users have elected not to deploy it. Regardless, no-touch authentication face recognition is going to have an impact, no doubt. Cloud is starting to lean in – it’s not only end users gong that way, security suppliers are doing it, too. That shift demands a lot from networks, and we can expect to see the demand for more reliable communications, further investment in compression, encryption and more pressure on external networks, too.
Video surveillance as a service is going to grow and it’s likely to splinter to incorporate AI like face recognition for access control, video verification, as well as more traditional ways of handling video around events. SMEs are the biggest users of VSaaS at present, but we are likely to see a shift as AI gives smarter and networks become more capable.
We’re also going to see greater uptake of smart, secure mobile credential app credentials. We’ve seen that users are far happier using their own phones and phone biometrics than they are registering fingerprints or faces on third party systems – that tiny trend is likely to become a groundswell. There’s quite a bit going on in access control, but the biggest changes there are in management software upgrades and integration with sub systems like CCTV and automation. There’s also performance creep. Some very affordable access control systems are increasingly capable out of the box.
In video surveillance there’s ongoing tension between performance and price. R&D teams seem to be investing their time in developing cameras for verticals. A trend in the local market is the hunger for panoramic cameras but what’s driving this shift is hard to say. It could be concurrent demand for coverage and lack of budget. While ASIC chips have been around for many years in alarm systems, it’s likely the year ahead will see new releases in the area of systems on chips, especially around video analytics. The notion of the camera as a sensor depends on this sort of development but hopefully manufacturers will not pull value from key hardware items like lenses in order to maintain margin at the expense of image quality.
ADT’s purchase of its leading dealer, Defenders was an interesting move in the alarm monitoring market recently. Will more manufacturers buy the vertical? It also seems likely we’ll see a shakeup in monitoring as rebate incomes evaporate in Australia. In North America we see telcos increasingly going direct to customers but locally the same can’t be said. And the jury remains out on DIY alarm and automation systems. They will have an impact, but it may be to increase overall market penetration rather than swallow the customer lists of professional security providers.
Something else that will be interesting is how customers take to telcos and ISPs getting into a data gathering position inside their homes. It’s not a particularly appealing thought, especially with the deep learning powered camera likely to shoulder aside the intrusion sensor. Quality monitoring centres which trade on their experience, integrity and focus on putting the customer first and take their product offerings laterally will do well, in my opinion.
When it comes to alarm monitoring and notions of 5G we are reaching a point where monitoring of many more things than homes is possible. The question for installers is which of these things forms a legitimate business case and which areas should be avoided as distraction. Taking this to the extreme, it might be possible to track the location of an individual based on automated data gathering, or to generate an alert if an expected pattern does not emerge.
PERS monitoring, mPERS monitoring and health monitoring of customers aging at home is also going to grow into the next decade. I’m not sure the electronic security market is fully onto supporting older folks in the way our technology now allows, but there are serious opportunities to support aging populations facing the material impact of smaller families with fewer children able to offer reduced assistance to parents in later life.
Cybersecurity is another key area of development. We’re seeing it built into devices, into systems, into services. Probably the area we’d most like to see it is training. Getting educated in cyber security and networking is key. Being able to build rugged networked security solutions gives security integrators a serious capability they can sell. When you think about applying consistent cybersecurity standards to legacy equipment, proprietary solutions, open comms protocols the heart quails.
Communications and software are having a serious impact on the market. 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 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. It’s the type of users that are leading the drive that should resonate most. They are serious customers in corporate and government organisations whose wants 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 ensuing security in an integrated world – most telling, ASIO T4 called for industry’s help 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 now set in motion 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 customer clamouring to focus their technological consciousness into a single point. This means integrations that used to be about devices 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 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 is going to consume capital that might have been used elsewhere. Underpinning this are communications and the importance of ensuring their reliability. We’ve lost our land lines, but do we have disaster-proof networks? Not really – and it’s an area the industry will need to focus on.
Products We Liked in 2019
In 2019 the potency of the Alarm.com 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. Another strong release in 2019 was ChallengerPlus, a 32-door access control solution that’s managed using the open architecture TecomC4 management software and is designed to work with mobile credentials and to mesh with cloud.
As well as driving 32 standard doors direct from the control panel, ChallengerPlus can handle 2 standard lifts up to 10 floors and does integration to the UltraSync Cloud that creates a secure external comms path to central stations or control rooms via the on-board Ethernet port at no additional communication equipment or cost. The integration of ChallengerPlus and UltraSync means users can employ the UltraSync+ mobile app, which allows simple and convenient interrogation of ChallengerPlus, receive push notifications, and configure user’s information and more. Using the app, operators can fully configure a panel from any location and send critical instructions to multiple recipients via push notifications in the event of a lockdown or emergency event. The system supports Network Access Controller, has a dual Wiegand interface and a 4G communications module and there’s UltraSync support for provisioned and non-provisioned mode panels along with cloud-based firmware and software updating.
Paradox HD series all-in-one motion detector and ethernet/Wi-Fi camera distributed by CSD and integrated with Inception and Milestone, which allows you to open any door at any time and simple installation via web browser. Simple but very appealing.
Another favourite was Brivo’s Onair, which rotates around a mobile platform for setup and management of the system, as well as replacement of cards and door readers with a mobile phone. Employees download the Brivo Onair Pass app, which allows them to press a button to unlock any door they’re allowed to access. The app communicates to a database (stored in the cloud), which sends an encrypted signal to the door controller, which releases the door. Use of smart devices allows high security 2-factor authentication to be employed globally via the app.
As well as acting as an access credential, the cloud-based interface lets authorised users access their system from a web browser or a smart device running the Brivo Onair Pass app. Onair Pass lets users manage their access control in real time from their phone. Users can also use the app to schedule access, manage permissions remotely in real time, monitor events, create groups and customize security reports This system scales, too, and can handle 1000 doors, unlimited users and offers unlimited event history, with CCTV footage retained for up to 12 months.
Salto Keys as a service (KS) – cloud-based access control management with no software installation or wiring. Salto’s wireless keyways use credentials to collect data instead of cables and using smartphones to take this concept global is a complete no-brainer now they’ve done it. The way KS works is that a smartphone and wireless BLE Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) lock pair, and the lock is opened via BLE – including at a distance. There’s no need for an active internet connection and the smart device with its 2-factor authentication including a biometric, is more secure than an access control card.
The solution offers scalable APIs that allow building and tweaking of an enterprise access control solution from scratch, the ability to grant access to groups or individuals for locks or within schedules, and the ability to view access events and revoke access on the go. I also liked Salto’s beautifully designed Danalock residential smart locks, which replace traditional keys with an electronic system. Also pleasing, Salto SVN Flex which works with XS4 2.0 systems using BLUEnet wireless management solution, lets Salto locks update user’s cards when presented to the electronic lock. SVN-Flex increases the number of updating points in a Salto system, so data gets around the hybrid online/offline network much faster.
Aetek EPoT long range PoE extenders that expand transmission distance up to 1200m with a data rate of 100Mbps and a 9.7W PoE budget at the transmitter end. Indoor and outdoor options are available, and the outdoor version is protected by an IP67 weatherproof and IK10 vandal-resistant casing as well as a built in PoE surge protection of 6KV. Quality stuff from CSD.
Having tested Hikvision Darkfighter X 4MP PTZ with 35x optical zoom we found this camera delivers security teams enormous power. DarkfighterX 4MP’s sensor is said to deliver colour images at 0.0005 lux, which is a big call for an image not enhanced by 250 metres of IR. DarkfighterX 4MP also offers deep learning technology to deliver greater accuracy with analytics such as intrusion detection and line crossing – video analytics works better the less pixel spread you have across a scene, which means this 4MP camera with 2688 x 1512 pixels offers solid performance.
Nirovision’s Mobile First face recognition solution features a deep learning algorithm that offers face recognition and object detection and allows functions like person of interest, blacklists, VIPs, employees, fast searching and viewing of video streams via the cloud. The point of Nirovision Mobile First is to make video surveillance pointy in real time to enhance business operations.
Security Center 5.8 from Genetec. This management solution is the hub around which the company’s offerings revolve and recent enhancements have taken things to another level. New dashboards make easier to conceptualise and wield the power of this system. There’s enhanced cyber security, including ratings of a network’s security levels with advice on how to resolve issues. There’s encryption in real time. Plan manager is powerful and intuitive and has those little bits of functionality that show deep study, as well as input from end users. Plan manager has a mobile app and LPR and GPS functionalities are synthesised to allow enhanced situational awareness and faster response times. Synergix IS has also been empowered with the addition of OEM hardware and this is all beautifully expressed in SC5.8.
HID’s iCLASS SE RB25F fingerprint reader gives biometric fingerprint matching in under a second using multispectral imaging technology that captures images from both the surface and sub-surface of the skin to handle challenging conditions. The reader’s IP67 and anti-vandal IK09 ratings mean it can be installed anywhere and it’s field-configurable over a network, making things easier still. There’s built-in optical tamper protection, support for Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) and HID Seos technology for multi-layered authentication between the reader and credentials.
AnyVision is a server-based GPU-powered analytic solution that can process 23 faces simultaneously and offers a toolbox of neat features and functions. AnyVision uses deep learning to find and identify faces in still images or video streams. The features list includes the ability to display gaze estimation, which is a useful marker when seeking the perpetrators of terror attacks.
Vivotek’s MS9390-HV is a panoramic network camera that incorporates a pair of wide-angle lenses, electronic image stitching, and high-resolution sensors to deliver an 8MP 180-degree scene. This is a compact, robust and capable camera with a huge angle of view. Image sensors are 1/2.7-inch progressive scan CMOS with a combined resolution of 4512 x 1728 pixels – that’s just under 8MP. The focal length of each lens is 2.8mm – a nice length for a wide-angle CCTV camera. The lenses have a fast aperture of F1.2, there’s a combined horizontal field of view of 180 degrees and a vertical field of view of 50 degrees. That vertical field of view is higher than usual and translates to more useful performance in the real world. Vivotek has a 20MP version but this unit is more than enough for many applications.
The Bosch 8000i in 1080p and 4K resolutions is IP66 rated against water and dust and IK10 rated against vandalism. Dimensions are 175mm wide x 145mm high and weight is 2.2kg. The dome bubble is clear polycarbonate with a UV blocking anti-scratch coating. Operating temperature range is -50C to 60C. FLEXIDOME IP starlight 8000i range features IP66 rating for water and dust resistance, IK10+ for vandal resistance, has anti-corrosion coating and solid operating temperature range of -50 to +60C. The camera is designed to be easy to install. None of these words really describes the camera’s performance.
Hikvision kicked goals this year with its second-generation video intercom system with Hik-Connect app gives users a safe living environment through high-definition image quality, easy operation interface, and flexible combination. It’s designed for door entry communication including video and security access especially suitable for residential, public and SME sector. The modular outdoor station features an artistic industrial design and various optional functional modules, including a nametag, keypad, and card reader module, as well as indicator, blank, and other modules. Users can choose customized functions according to their different needs. The fisheye camera lens on the modular outdoor station provides a 180-degree wide-angle, 2MP high-definition image. Its wide dynamic range (WDR) and night vision provide image quality with sharp details.
BGW Technologies DSCPG4312 Power-G Wireless Outdoor Magnetic Contact with Auxiliary Input from DSC was a solid release for alarm installers in 2019. It is compatible with DSC PowerSeries NEO and DSC iotega and is designed for both residential and high-volume commercial use. This robust device is designed to protect outdoor entries and exits, including perimeter gates, pool and garden enclosures, shed doors, windows and more.
This outdoor magnetic contact is IP66 certified for dust-tight and waterproof rating, with a long-lasting battery and reliable operation in severe weather conditions, including operating temperature range of -40C to +66C and configurable auxiliary input options for NC, NO, SEOL or DEOL applications.
We also liked AXIS Q6215-LE, a high-performance, 1080p, PTZ camera with 30x optical zoom and 400 metre OptimizedIR that automatically adjusts to camera zoom. This is a heavy-duty PTZ camera that meets the MIL-STD-810G standard, ensuring reliable operation in extreme weather conditions, including winds up to 245 km/h (152 mph). With vandal-resistant IK10-rated casing and IP66/IP68 ratings and NEMA TS-2 compliance, the camera housing is resistant to both harsh weather conditions and heavy impacts.
Also captivating was Hanwha’s HAN-XNP-6550RH, a 2 megapixel outdoor-rated IR PTZ camera with the world’s best optical zoom of 55x magnification. It has a unique adaptive IR technology which adjusts the dynamic infrared radiation angle with the zoom ratio, providing an outstanding low light performance for long range monitoring. The HAN-XNP-6550RH supports advanced digital image stabilisation (DIS) by combining the standard DIS function with the gyro sensor to compensate for unstable images caused by shaking.
Another pleasing addition to alarm technology was the WX Infinity Series of outdoor intrusion sensors from Optex, which has 2 independent 90-degree 12m detection areas that offer 180-degree detection coverage with a 12m radius. The new WX Infinity Series has 2 wired and 2 wireless models in standard or anti-masking versions. WXI sensors provide 2, independent 90-degree 12m detection areas, one for the left side and one for the right. The detection distance ranges from 2.5m to 12m, and the sensitivity and alarm output can be set up independently for each area.
What did we like most in 2019? Gallagher Security Health Check utility 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 just won a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Award.
We also liked the Fujifilm SX800, 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. Hanwha’s HAN-XNP-6550RH 2MP IR PTZ camera with 55x zoom and the Optex WX Infinity Series of outdoor intrusion sensors from Optex can provide 2 independent 90-degree 12m detection areas that offer 180-degree detection coverage with a 12m radius.
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, freeze sensor also fits the bill. Integriti version 19 – 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 plenty of 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.
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. Bosch FLEXIDOME IP starlight 8000i won an ASIAL Best Product Award this year and deserved it – a great camera.
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 a drive towards partnership 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.