The provision of security has traditionally been somewhat insular. In the past few had the appetite to mix security systems with other technologies, for fear of those secondary solutions impacting on the performance. However, the modern user is now demanding that systems offer added value, and for installers and integrators this means that additional benefits must be delivered. The important part is ensuring that the security system always remains in control of all other elements.
For many years the common approach to security system design was to keep the solution isolated as much as possible. Communications were controlled and limited to secure nodes, interoperability was curtailed and often avoided altogether, and whilst integration was an often trumpeted feature, it was typically limited to integration with other security devices within the same system.
It is fair to say that these design principles came about because such an approach ensured that risks relating to other devices taking control of security devices were eliminated. This approach to risk management might well have stifled innovation at the time, but it wasn’t a great issue for two reasons. Interestingly, both reasons were down to end user attitudes!
The first reason that isolation of security solutions went unchallenged was because end users saw the importance of security systems being standalone. The reason for this was that the security industry had done a very good job of persuading them that this was the best approach. End users relied on engineers to design a system and implement the technology.
The second reason that interoperability didn’t get pushed to the fore was that many end users simply did not know what was possible. Whilst there were a few organisations pushing for greater levels of interoperability, their voices were advocating something new and untried, and often not understood by the greater business world.
At the time there was no IoT, no smart buildings or connected sites. Google was nothing more than a search engine and Apple made computers for designers. Many end users didn’t really understand why IP would add benefits to a security system, let alone considering the implications of how a holistic system incorporating security and other technologies could manage multiple facets of their everyday business operations.
This isn’t to say that isolating a security system to prevent interference is no longer a valid approach. In some applications it remains a sensible and preferred option. By putting security first, high risk threats can be mitigated with some assurance of performance.
What is changing, however, is the attitudes of end users. They are increasingly aware of the benefits of open integration and interoperability. They understand how combining systems can benefit their businesses and make operations more efficient. What’s more, they see this happening in the core elements of their businesses.
It is dangerous for installers and integrators to carry on with the insistence that security systems are isolated and absolutely retain their own infrastructure when end users are demanding ever higher levels of integration.
However, as the security experts, it is also important that the same installers and integrators ensure that it is the security system that controls the other elements. Thankfully, many high end security solutions have the capabilities to do just that.
It is imperative that the security market embraces integration and interoperability, but also that it takes a position of leadership, and convinces the end user that it is right and proper that as a trusted partner it is allowed to do so.