Many of us have developed a perception that because new technology products seemingly appear more and more quickly, that somehow the lifespan of systems has become quite limited. This idea hasn’t just arrived by accident, often it has been positively encouraged!
The Latest Thing
When it comes to the consumer electronics world - newer, faster, better is the mantra the sales teams want us all to repeat. Look at TVs or mobile devices for example, the new features seem to arrive within months, giving the impression that previous models are completely obsolete. Just think how many mobile phones you may have had (and possibly still have, gathering dust at home!)
When you look beyond the advertising and heavy sales, beyond the appeal of ‘shiny shiny’, much of this technology is not really bringing you ground-breaking changes or adding ‘must have’ new features.
In fact, probably the biggest changes and advantages in devices now come from the software or apps installed. This is evident in the consumer technology world, but even more so when it comes to business systems.
Expectations of Lifespan
In the security industry, the traditional ‘rule-of-thumb’ was that a system would generally have a lifespan anywhere from seven to 15 years, particularly with robust and ingrained systems such as access control.
Interestingly, TDSi has several customers in China that installed our (then) latest state-of-the-art systems 22 years ago. I’m very proud to say, these systems are still working just as well today! The end-user has no reason to change them in the immediate future, and it is quite a testament to our manufacturing and development teams, that these systems have stayed reliable (and also relevant), over a period that would seriously shock many consumers!
This sort of longevity has maintained TDSi’s reputation for reliability and we are extremely proud of examples such as this (even if you could argue we have lost some short-term sales in the process!) We know this sort of reliability and long lifespan is what many buyers look for when they invest in a good-quality security system.
Where older security hardware can fall behind however, is with the move to modern highly integrated and connected networks. Certainly, these systems won’t do everything a modern security system can in terms of functionality and flexibility.
As anyone who uses security technology will tell you (or virtually any other technology for that matter), most operators now want to integrate their systems with the rest of their IT and communications network. In the past, this inevitably meant a ‘rip and replace’ approach to the hardware, but many systems will now let you update the software instead.
The Soft Option
The drive to open-protocol solutions has rewritten the rulebook on the lifespan of security systems. An open architecture system often allows you to develop, enhance and expand the scope of a security system well beyond the original specification. You don’t have to necessarily replace all the hardware - which can be very expensive and very disruptive in many instances.
If your security hardware system can evolve with new software, there is every reason for it to last a considerable period of time. In many cases, the specification of the hardware is far less of a priority than its ability to evolve. You can also add new components to the network, whilst making the most of legacy systems that don’t need to be replaced.
Even beyond the domestic security sector, there are great examples of technology that evolves very successfully over long periods. Consider the US Airforce’s legendary B52 bomber aircraft for example. This Cold War warrior was introduced in 1954 but continues to be used to this day and could well still be used in the 2040s -some 90 years after it was developed!
Despite visually looking pretty much the same, the B52 of today (or 25 years in the future) has completely different computer systems, engines and avionics to the original, but still uses basically the same airframe.
Physical security systems can easily follow this approach, keeping the best hardware components and heavy metal parts that do the physical work, but constantly improving the systems that make it all work together. The useful lifespan of quality security technology systems can be deceptively long indeed!