Author: Francesca Meyrick
The physical security sector has seen huge changes over the last five years or so. We have seen a big move towards integration, interoperability, and the convergence of systems. Even more recently, we have all been talking about artificial intelligence which is set to be an equally important game-changer.
Like all big changes though, this does pose some questions over what effect this will have on the role of professionals in the industry, in this case, security systems integrators. In my view, rather than marginalising these professionals, it is likely to make them even more important and integral to the process, but will also mean they need to stay ahead of the trends to continue being a key component.
Integration with other systems in the IoT world is making it easier, more economical, more flexible, and more secure to install physical security systems. However, it has also forced our industry to be more aware of the world outside our tight little security bubble.
In some quarters this has raised the alarm over the potential security breaches from integration with other IoT systems. Certainly, it is something that needs careful consideration. But the flip side is that there will be many new opportunities, although we also need to be fully aware of how security systems can add to and augment other systems in the built environment.
Security systems are very much the ‘eyes and ears’ of an integrated IT system. The primary function is to detect potential and actual security breaches, but they also give valuable information on building occupancy, people and vehicle movements, and the demands for resource usage (such as lighting and environmental controls). If security systems integrators aren’t fully aware of the potential, they are missing a considerable value-add opportunity to impart to their customers.
Staying relevant and understanding the technology and practices as they evolve is undoubtedly a challenge and won’t suit all systems integrators. However, training has always been a key part of the security sector and the opportunities on offer should make it a fair trade-off for professionals who want to stay at the top of their game.
The integration with IoT systems will mean gaining a wider knowledge of potentially connected systems and fully understanding the potential benefits (and possible pitfalls) this will entail. Secure access control systems are perfectly placed for recording time and attendance data for example, so a systems integrator will want to understand the potential integration capabilities of popular workplace management solutions.
Equally, it’s important to understand the legal implications of surveillance systems (with regards to the likes of GDPR legislation for example), to ensure end-user customers have systems that respect the privacy and rights of their employees and visitors whilst still being a central part of the security regime.
Helping the market understand the benefits of the security systems on offer has always been a key role of systems integrators and (arguably) this will only increase with IoT integration in the future. Security providers are well-placed to advise on the potential for integrated systems to drive efficiencies.
It’s not unreasonable to think that this impact could be even greater – well-integrated security systems could be used as a driver for other organisational change and productivity enhancements. Going back to the ‘eyes and ears’ analogy, security systems are well placed to service intelligent automation systems and connect sustainability deliverance mechanisms within an organisation.
Certainly, security integrators need to understand the importance of enhanced security networks and to see the bigger picture. From a sales point of view, it’s an excellent position to be in and for customers, the professional expertise and advice is invaluable in an ever-more complicated age of technology choices.
It’s easy to get left behind when an industry evolves, but there are many genuine opportunities for security systems integrators to be at the vanguard of change as it continues in the next decade and beyond.