There is a natural progression and maturation of technologies as well as continued convergence between a host of information systems and products. Security is in the spotlight, again, and installers know they need to learn more about this discipline in order to be successful.

The industry’s trend toward convergence may have been clear by those electrical contractors working in the field for some time, but like most bandwagons, it takes awhile for everyone to get on board. The topics are beginning to enter into industry research, tradeshow sessions and roundtable discussions, which is further equipping those to adapt to industry shifts.

It is all about connectivity, and how you achieve it is up to you and your customer.

BICSI is a professional, nonprofit telecommunications association. The organization’s recent show presented installers with labor-saving products, networking, Internet-protocol systems, new building code requirements and standards, information on the most current firestopping methods, and more.

A walk down the aisles confirmed the presence of not only information transport systems, data communications, structured wiring and other companies, but some new twists as well. Berk-Tek, New Holland, Pa.; Ortronics, New London, Conn.; and Wiremold, West Hartford, Conn., sponsored a “Lunch and Learn” session that focused on a new pathway product designed to meet the demands of 10 gigabit networks.

AAiD Security Solutions Inc., Peachtree City, Ga., presented its radio frequency identification (RFID) tag technology for hands-free asset protection, vehicle identification and personnel tracking.

Many other wireless systems seemed to fit in well with what formerly was a predominantly hardwired show. Cable management, fire-rated cable pathways, cable trays and other wiring solutions were everywhere, again, with an emphasis on man-hour savings.

Many educational sessions were included in the conference. In “Opportunities in the Security Market,” Ted Curtin CPMR of Repworks, South Hadley, Mass., addressed a packed session.

“I get calls all the times from those in the industry who want to know how to leverage their existing customers and offering security is one way,” he said.

Curtin, a manufacturer’s representative, said there is keen interest by data communications and other ITS installers who see the writing on the wall.

“Convergence continues and we’re moving to a total IP deployment environment. The end-user is looking for single vendor responsibility. IP sound systems are more common and everything is run on either structured cabling or the network,” he said.

Curtin said the security market continues to grow and added that closed-circuit television surveillance (CCTV) and intercoms may be the easiest fields to learn about. Access control, he added, is labor intensive and may not be the best place to start in security.

Despite Curtain’s assertations about access control, electrical contractors are actually primed to enter this labor-intensive market as installers.

The talk turned technical, with practical tips for attendees. Curtin said most camera problems lie in the iris of the lens.

“The iris cannot amplify light, it can only attenuate it,” he said.

Another session, “Fire Safety Considerations in Network Infrastructure,” was hosted by DuPont Cabling Solutions, Wilmington, Del. Breakout discussions focused on building codes and standards, abandoned cable issues, network survivability, recycling cables, and green building designs. Product showcases and other informal gatherings again focused on the growing popularity of security and related low-voltage systems and services.

A “Security & Notification System Technology Showcase,” hosted by Graybar, St. Louis, highlighted new product offerings in security and fire alarms. Product and design engineers from manufacturers and technical experts from Graybar answered questions from interested installers/attendees.

Graybar’s offerings include components from manufacturers such as Pelco, General Cable, NVT, Panasonic, Aiphone, Viking, Potter, Specified Technologies, Edwards Signaling & Security Systems, Altronix, Keyscan Access Control, Ditek, Sensaphone, International Fiber Systems, Valcom, Gai-Tronics, EnGenius, Belden CDT, Ideal, Brady, Panduit, Erico, Siemon and Minuteman UPS.

Connectivity continues to move to total convergence and those in attendance at tradeshows can use the knowledge gained, including learning needed skills and business preparedness, to better one’s position in coming marketplace. EC

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 domara@earthlink.net.