The security industry is closing out the year on a high note. While official figures were not available at the time of this writing, it was apparent to anyone who regularly attends the event that the 60th Annual ASIS Int’l Seminar and Exhibits at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center was an undeniable success. On the heels of recent lackluster ASIS shows in Philadelphia and Chicago, many leading up to this year’s event had speculated that Atlanta would prove no better. However, any frowns were turned upside-down as aisles were shoulder-to-shoulder with well in excess of 20,000 show-goers and many exhibit booths looked like Apple stores on the day of a new iPhone release. In the evenings, many of those folks had even broader smiles thanks to the wide assortment of social goings-on.
The ASIS show, once almost exclusively aimed at and attended by security end users (i.e. security directors/managers, facility managers, security personnel, CSOs), has transformed to encompass the breadth of the security spectrum that now makes it equally relevant for commercial security systems integrators, consultants and others allied to the field. With the majority of major news announcements and new security products and technologies launched at springtime’s ISC West in Las Vegas each year, the ASIS event is more about reinforcing those launches, previewing what’s around the corner for the coming year, strengthening business relationships and taking in some of the extensive training and education sessions for which ASIS is famous.
With that in mind, 20 predominant trends or themes stood out among the 650+ exhibiting vendors. Here, in no particular order, are those takeaways:
1. Technology partnerships ― Practically all the vendors, once all about propriety and playing everything close to the vest, are throwing their arms open to embrace collaborative product/system and branding opportunities. A prime example is BCDVideo’s servers coming preloaded with Genetec’s Security Center software.
2. Hardware-centric vendors adding software ― Looking to move beyond commoditized boxes and ways to make their products more relevant moving forward, many traditionally component-based suppliers are either creating their own integrated software, OEMing it from someone else or openly partnering with a specialist to expand feature sets. An example is Pivot3’s Virtual Security Console, designed to allow users to deliver secure security operations center capabilities at any time, in any location.
3. Software-centric vendors moving into hardware ― The corollary to the above is vendors well known for programming expertise expanding into selling components. Besides the additional revenue it can allow a more unified solution. An example here would be Milestone’s and OnSSI’s new NVR offerings.
4. Wow factor wireless devices ― Better WiFi reliability, Bluetooth integrations and adoption of Near-Field Communications (NFC) are among the drivers fueling ever-expanding products and applications here. And why not? The cost savings and flexibility can be substantial. Examples include HID Global’s “Twist and Go” gesture technology and Allegion’s ENGAGE technology electronic locks.
5. Energy efficiency ― Long scoffed at as not having much relevancy for security, some vendors are now keenly focused on reducing the carbon footprints of their devices and systems. Among them is ASSA ABLOY, which is bringing to market some devices that use up to 99% less energy. In larger systems that can bring clients significant energy savings.
6. 4K Ultra HD video ― With four times the resolution of 1080p, this was the single most “buzzy” technology on display. Several of the leading video surveillance suppliers showed 4K cameras, including Panasonic’s 360-degree version, IQinVision’s 185-degree model and Digital Watchdog’s four-sensor 16K total offering. However, DVTEL CEO Yoav Stern cautioned about the need for all aspects of a surveillance system to be 4K compatible in order to achieve the full benefits.
7. Mobility ― Whether integrators looking to do remote diagnostics, company owners wanting to remotely manage their facilities or security personnel needing connectivity on the go, app-based access and control of security systems anywhere, anytime is becoming more and more prevalent. An example is Axis Communications’ new mobile surveillance apps for Android and Apple devices.
8. Simpler interfaces with expanded features ― It has taken some time, but vendors are moving away from the whims of vacuum-sealed engineering geeks to concentrate on more intuitive interfaces that are easier for end users to learn and use, as well as emphasizing useful functionalities in real-world scenarios. An example is Genetec’s Security Center VMS, which has now added the Sipelia communications management module to enable seamless integration with intercom devices.
9. More operational intelligence gathering ― The advancement and proliferation of security devices and systems, particularly video, is creating almost limitless opportunities to pull together what had been disparate data to analyze and make smarter decisions for operations as well as security. A good example is 3XLogic’s VIGIL Trends productivity tool.
10. Easier installation and deployment ― An integrator’s best friend is the vendor who truly knows installation pain points and comes up with innovative solutions to hardships and hassles. More modular designs, easily-hung devices and self-finding network components show manufacturers are doing a better job listening to their customers. For instance, EasyConnect from Exacq, which automatically finds, addresses and connects multiple IP cameras within a network, and Avayla’s Fabric Connect, which eliminates networkwide provisioning by substituting endpoint provisioning with only one-two command lines.
11. Enhanced video imaging ― Like an arms race, manufacturers had been touring higher and higher IP megapixel camera capabilities, but now the one-upmanship has become about introducing other technologies that produce greater clarity and usability. At the forefront of this movement are wider dynamic camera sensors and IR/thermal technologies that can capture images in little to no light. An example is Sierra-Olympic Technologies’ Vinden CZ 640 uncooled, continuous-zoom thermal chassis camera.
12. More intelligence at the edge ― To lessen the burden on the network with continuous streams of video data choking the pipelines, many suppliers have been concentrating on developing cameras that are more self-contained and only communicate with a centralized network as needed. An example of more intelligence being placed on the edge is Samsung’s new Open Platform, which enables cameras to load and expand capabilities via apps similar to smartphones.
13. Preconfigured packaged systems and bundling ― To better serve both integrators or more traditional security dealers that are not especially adept with IT network skills as well as simpler SMB customer deployments, many manufacturers are now offering complete off-the-shelf system solutions. For example, Axis’ M10 surveillance kits are aimed at retail shops and smaller businesses.
14. More openness and interoperability ― Many vendors’ booths have become rainbows of logos showing off how their products are officially interoperable with an array of other technology providers. This is great for integrators as it eases assembling seamless integrations, even if the promise sometimes exceeds the field results. Open APIs and SDKs are seemingly available to all interested parties. A chief example is VMS ecosystem leader Milestone.
15. More affordable advanced technologies ― In most cases, prices continue to plummet while features increase to produce very compelling value propositions. Take for example, Panasonic’s new 3 Series of cameras, an economy-conscious line with many of the capabilities of the company’s higher end 6 Series. Many vendors, such as FLIR, are offering much less expensive thermal imaging cameras now as well.
16. Video providers expanding into access control ― Several video surveillance manufacturers, particularly those with strong competencies in software development, are seizing additional opportunities on the access side. These vendors have tired of the fragmented, proprietary nature of the market to take a proactive approach with their own offerings that more readily integrate within their platforms. For instance, Video Insight’s VI Monitor v6 now includes MonitorCastEDU, an access control product designed for multicampus applications. It should be noted there are also access control firms, like AMAG, moving the other way by adding video to their portfolios.
17. Cloud-based systems and services ― Less infrastructure costs, centralized storage and anywhere access of security data are attractive drivers for end users to adopt cloud services, which offer integrators plenty of new recurring revenue stream opportunities. Thus several manufacturers are not only releasing devices with cloud connectivity but also offering the datacenter services to support it all. Hikvision’s new technology partnership with Smartvue is an example.
18. Bridging silos ― Until fairly recently, the larger security manufacturers have cut off their noses to spite their faces by allowing different brands and units within their companies to operate with blinders on and miss potential synergistic opportunities. No more. Networked integration and economics have driven giants like Honeywell, United Technologies Corp. and ASSA ABLOY to leverage the combined strengths of their assorted brands and lines for a more unified whole.
19. Integrating acquisitions ― Several high-profile acquisitions from the past year were shown to have been well integrated within their new parent companies. Examples were Milestone (Canon), VideoIQ (Avigilon) and Tyco Security Products (Exacq Technologies). It was also Allegion’s first ASIS show since being spun off from Ingersoll Rand.
20. Oh, say can you IT? ― Running physical security systems on enterprise networks or adjacently has become a de facto process with integrators being helped along by manufacturers providing straightforward solutions and training. Along with that, however, is elevated concern about hacking vulnerabilities. In that vein, Bosch Security has signed on as a platinum-level sponsor of the upcoming PSA Cybersecurity Congress (Jan. 20-21 outside Denver), of which Security Sales & Integration is the exclusive media partner.
Next year’s 61st ASIS show will touch down in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 28. Be sure to check out other stories in SSI’s special ASIS event spotlight.