The industry must meet growing demand for integration

Integration and PSIM

In the run up to Intersec 2015 we’ll be assessing key issues affecting a variety of sectors of the security industry with the show’s exhibitors, starting with a look at the growing importance of integration. 

The security industry is changing. There are increasing calls for the way we are using technology in our daily lives to be reflected in our security solutions, and it’s obvious that expectations are changing.

Users expect everything to be fluid and easy. They expect to be able to manage everything from their smart phone. They expect intuitive, plug and play technology.

The key to achieving this is integration, and IP technology and its sweep through the industry has acted as a catalyst for evolution.

James Condron, VP Sales, CNL Software, believes that it’s customer demand and expectation that is driving growing calls for integrated security solutions.

“We see the demand for integrated solutions being driven by customers,” he explained. “We have found the industry slow to market and sell the advantages of real integrated solutions. However, it is savvy end users who have seen the steady increase in technology in their lives from smart phones with apps to online shopping. Technology is allowing people to do more using less time and effort. This has opened their minds to the benefits of the ‘Internet of Things’, and is driving them to ask for more out of their security investment.”

David Teppe, General Manager of Advancis Middle East, takes a slightly different view of what’s driving this growth.

“The growing need for integrated security and building management solutions is being driven by the so called overall smart or safe city concepts,” he said. “Security requirements are steadily rising, with increased requests for a broad video surveillance in big cities, transport areas, and large events. Homeland security is also a major issue in this regard. Certainly the switch from analogue to IP, for example in the video business, helped and still helps integrated solutions like Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) a lot to further develop.”
So how do we meet this demand?

Cordon said, “Integration can take many forms, from simply connecting an access control system and video, to a rules based enterprise wide PSIM systems. For some, basic integration will be sufficient for now, larger organisations many need to have a solution that can scale, and can provide the high levels of situation awareness needed to manage their environments. PSIM is unlike any other security purchase, as it can create benefits which span across many areas of a business, not just security. With this in mind, it also needs to have input from a wide range of stakeholders, for them to understand its capability and help to define its required functionality.”

Teppe believes that PSIM, as a comprehensive solution, is the best way to integrate a wide variety of security and building control devices in one easy to use interface on the one hand, and on the other to offer flexible opportunities for a further expansion of installed security and building management devices.
“Using a PSIM system means that the variety of diverse security and building installations by different manufacturers is controllable via only one superordinated platform,” he said, “providing interoperability between the single devices, giving clear instructions to the user on how to resolve any occurring situation and, of course, saving maintenance and personnel training costs for lots of different systems.

“The trend to use a vendor neutral PSIM system covering all aspects of a reliable security and building management will further rise. Companies offering only PSIM lite or not truly independent solutions may lose some market share in the long run, whereas manufacturers able to integrate a wide variety of security and building control devices will increase their market share.”

Ben Perkins, Product Manager at Midwich, explained that Midwich understands how important it is for products to do more than the basics and develop solutions that go further, and that’s a key factor in its support of TDSi products.

“We have been distributing TDSi products and solutions since the start of 2014,” said Perkins, “and we are proud to be working with a provider of such advanced and flexible solutions. Like us, TDSi invest in meeting the needs of the market, and that is why they are able to offer such far-reaching security solutions, such as solutions that incorporate camera based software, ANPR solutions and barrier systems.”
Perkins told us that all of this is possible thanks to network based technology. Midwich see the whole market moving towards complete network solutions because of the flexibility it affords, as well as the wide-ranging possibilities to get more than security from any given solution.

“Security is of course at the core of any access control solution,” he said, “but once access control is installed there is so much more you can do to build on the core system. For example, TDSi have solutions that allow a system to recognise that John Smith has scanned into a building, and then trigger integrated HVAC and lighting systems to automatically switch on the lights and heating in his office and surrounding areas, saving energy.”

These types of systems may still be in their infancy at the moment, but building management features and the ability to integrate with existing systems has clear benefits and Midwich are already seeing growing demand from vertical markets such as corporate facilities, banks, and education campuses.

IP is the key
So how is all of this suddenly possible?

“IP is the key,” insisted Perkins. “Before, everything spoke its own language and could not communicate with each other effectively. Now, pushed by the CCTV sector, IP means that everything has to share a common language.”

Teppe agrees, saying, “IP is absolutely the key to effective integration. Advancis has been developing its PSIM+ system, WinGuard, for 20 years. There has been always a differentiation between the physical and the logical connection of any subsystem to the PSIM+ system. Today typically all subsystems are physically being connected to WinGuard via TCP/IP. Certain types of systems, e.g. fire alarm systems, as well as legacy systems often support serial or other connections only, which then will mostly be converted to TCP/IP.

“However, with regard to the logical connection, the absolute key to a high performing PSIM+ system is a third party interface integration that is ideally based on the Software Development Kit (SDK) or Application Programming Interface (API) of the respective subsystem. We’ve developed more than 352 of these types of interfaces since our company was founded in 1994. In addition to those our PSIM+ platform supports standardised interfaces such as OPC, Modbus IP, SNMP, BACnet, KNX, Interbus etc.”

Teppe also highlighted that so-called integration based on dry contacts has nothing to do with PSIM+ based type of integration. For example, if you integrate a fire alarm system installation of any vendor with 10 panels and a total of 5,000 detectors it’s possible to monitor and control around 50,000 states, modes and operations (depending on the vendor system and third party interface capabilities) while a dry contact based integration would typically achieve around 20 monitoring points only (panel fault and general alarm per panel).

Perkins asserted that this shift was not demand driven. He believes that technology is driving the advances and changes we are seeing, creating its own demand.
“In this type of situation, Midwich are very aware that the key to maintaining development is to ensure we are ahead of the game and predicting the markets’ needs so we can make sure everything that needs to be communicating smoothly is already doing so,” Perkins concluded.

Cordon takes a slightly different view.

He said, “Bringing all devices onto an IP network is only the first part of an integrated solution. The real key to an effective integration is what you do with the information. The question we ask End Users is what keeps you up at night? We then look at how we can use the information from their systems, sensors and devices to help reduce the risks they face. The use of intuitive interfaces, dashboards, operator guidance, reports and video visualisation all form part of the value added by a PSIM based integration.”

However you look at it, it’s clear that integration is becoming important in the global security market and the way we achieve this is only going to advance.

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