The use of software and IT-based hardware has accelerated development in the security sector, and many forward-looking installers and integrators will be thankful for that. The benefits are huge and the pace of change means manufacturers can react quickly to market needs and customer demands. However, enjoying these developments does place a burden on manufacturers to ensure they are not making simple mistakes which inconvenience both engineers and end users.
Because Benchmark does little else but test and assess technologies and solutions, the team is exposed to a very wide range of systems. This has significant upsides, in that we get to see all the good and interesting things that are coming out of the industry. However, it also means that we get to see the problems too.
For many installers and integrators, familiarity with a product is often key to reduced time on site. Because you use specific systems or devices regularly, you become accustomed to their foibles and if there are any issues you learn the workarounds. As the Benchmark team works with so many different solutions from all manufacturers, we often encounter known issues without any prior warning.
Our attitude is simple: if an issue exists, the manufacturer should remedy it as soon as possible. Even if a workaround exists, that cannot be used as an excuse to ignore problems. This is increasingly important as the industry turns to solutions that utilise smart technologies and have an increased dependence upon software.
Many security-based software offerings are reliant upon other established IT elements to operate properly. For example, many networked cameras use ActiveX elements for viewing during initial set-up. A lot of management software requires the Microsoft .NET framework. SQL is often deployed as a database. Direct X is commonly used for task management. These are tools created for the IT sector, and as such are changed and developed to meet the needs of programmers and IT specialists. They are not specific to the security industry.
In reality, for the IT software providers, the security industry is a small sector that is not immediately on their radar. Whilst these companies provide technical bulletins and resources for those creating software which utilises their programs, they won’t liaise with specific security manufacturers, just as they don’t with businesses in other sectors. The onus for ensuring the various IT software tools are used correctly lies solely with the security manufacturers.
Increasingly in 2016, Benchmark has seen installation or configuration issues which have arisen purely because manufacturers have not properly applied the use of third party IT software elements. Often these issues should have been solved by the manufacturers during testing, but often – and irritatingly – they are problems which have been identified and resolved in the past by those in the IT sector.
The knowledge is out there, the information is in the public domain, so why are some security manufacturers repeating the mistakes?
Trends in the IT sector change quickly. Where once ActiveX was the darling of those seeking to deliver media-rich browsing, today it is viewed as a dead technology. In recent times Microsoft has reduced support of the technology and has tried to prevent ActiveX elements from running. This is because many users no longer trust it. However, numerous security manufacturers still rely on ActiveX for web-based viewing.
If manufacturers want to use IT-based software, that’s good. It delivers better solutions. However, they must ensure that mistakes made in the past by IT companies are not repeated again in the security market.
The responsibility for such faults can only lie in one place!