There’s a bright spot in the economy—security, and the burglar and fire alarm industry continues to grow, fueled by advancements in computing technology and Internet protocol (IP) devices, software, cellular and other systems and services. Funding from the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t hurt either.
Security today is rarely a standalone function and convergence of formerly disparate functions reign. It integrates and operates with closed-circuit television surveillance (CCTV) and access control and other automation functions. Life safety, too, works in tandem with door controls, heating, ventilating and air-conditioning and energy management, as well as heat, smoke and duct detectors, sounders and visual indicators.
Companies such as Cisco and IBM will continue to come into the security marketplace to merge virtual technologies and data with physical protection and detection. Electrical contractors must continue to learn new skill sets which blend physical security with information technology (IT) or risk being left behind.
The big picture
Total cost of ownership is a buzzword and customers want to get the most from their system in dollar savings, longevity and ease of service and maintenance. As such, installers must shift their focus from hardware and instead present real solutions and actual numbers to the customer, according to Jim Panzl, sales performance trainer, GE’s Commercial & Industrial Center, Cleveland.
“The best way to build relationships with customers is to help them make money,” Panzl said at a recent media event at the GE Lighting & Electrical Institute at Nela Park. Panzl said customers want numbers—for example, cost savings per quarter or year from energy efficient lighting or maintenance efficiencies.
“It’s not just about product and hardware, it’s about knowing what the issues are in every vertical market you serve and being able to address those for the customer,” he continued. “The end-user wants to know how much money they can make or save and what the return on investment is for the solution,” he said.
Intuitive and intelligent
Systems with new intelligence add additional benefits to the security fold. Occupancy sensors provide easy to deploy solutions for energy savings. But these devices can do more than shut down heating or cooling or lighting. They have evolved to sense when someone is in the room and adjust the temperature accordingly. Digital microprocessor circuitry continually analyzes real-time occupancy patterns to adjust settings for maximum performance.
In fire and life safety systems, conventional panels still fill a need, but there’s steady migration to addressable technology, according to Dave Kosciuk, vice president of sales, Silent Knight by Honeywell, Maple Grove, Minn.
“With addressable technology the panel and detectors are intuitive, so you can provide your customers more information,” he said. “Features like jump-start automatic programming tell the control panel what device or devices are on the network and automatically initialize detectors. Addressable panels continuously monitor the operation of detectors, control sensitivity and perform a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 72 compliant sensitivity check,” Kosciuk added.
CCTV continues to be one of the hottest segments in security and the move to IP cameras continues to fuel this growth. According to IMS Research, Wellingborough, England, the number of digital cameras (installed base) is expected to double this year alone. The world market for network video surveillance products increased by 41.9 percent in 2006 and is forecast to continue growing strongly for many years to come. By 2010, the combined market for network cameras, video servers and network video recorders is forecast to exceed $2.6 billion.
“The market has the potential to grow even faster than this,” said IMS Research Director Simon Harris. “Even at this impressive growth rate, network cameras will still account for only one-third of the security cameras shipped in 2010. The security industry is notoriously resistant to change and new technologies generally take time to gain acceptance. The main challenge for suppliers is to educate the market about the many benefits of network video surveillance over traditional analog CCTV.”
Camera technology continues to focus on compression techniques, analytics, smart recording, optics and other space-saving techniques as they navigate the network typography and IT infrastructure. Manufacturers have also taken it upon themselves to market their products in new ways. Ioimage, Herzliya, Israel, hit the airwaves at YouTube.com. The company posted a video on how to install their megapixel intelligent camera. “It showcases the easy installation—less than five minutes—including acquiring the IP address,” said Dvir Doron, vice president of Marketing.
Times have changed. Security alarm systems are not separate systems, but integrated in a turnkey approach that saves time and money for the user. Systems perform a variety of tasks and industries continue to merge and converge. Welcome to the real world.
O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or firstname.lastname@example.org.