Every manufacturer has now, to a greater or lesser extent, hitched elements of its product range to the networked security wagon and with good reason. Unfortunately, this change of direction has not always been mirrored by recognition that many installation companies are unable and/or unwilling to make a fast transition from analogue to digital installations.For installers, refusal to change is a guarantee of getting your business corralled in the shrinking domestic alarms and fast fading analogue CCTV market. Worse still, failure to embrace networking will trap installers in relation to the sorts of products and the range of products they’re able to install. While this was just talk 5 years ago, serious manufacturers are now beginning to build quality edge devices including IP cameras and access control reader/controllers. These units simply plug into increasingly reliable LANs or WANs and are accessed over Cat-5/6 or Cat-5e networks by authorized workstations. Yes, it’s just a trickle now, but once large numbers of IP enabled security devices become available, we will have reached the end game and what happens then depends to a large extent on what we do to educate our installers right now. As we’ve pointed out in before – none of the changes is being pressed on the industry by a madly competitive IT market. Yes, IT integrators are increasingly aware of security as a revenue stream but they are not driving the changes. Instead what’s pushing network compatibility is a couple of simple market forces. It’s beyond doubt that increasingly clever users and integrators want more flexible solutions and want to pay less for them. The urge for more economical solutions is seeing the reappearance of CCTV systems built on non-proprietary hardware, including high quality servers and workstations. We all remember the woeful performance of the early generic PC-based digital video solutions but make no mistake, this performance variable is disappearing fast.If their quality proves sufficient, the reappearance of off-the-shelfers means proprietary systems will come under pressure from software-based solutions provided by skilled IP-capable integration teams. Universally, the manufacturers of digital security product maintain that the greatest difficulty they have when meeting the requirement of purchasers is finding capable installation teams. This means it’s all the more important that tech teams get net savvy – fast.It would be wrong to suggest there will be no need for analogue capable techs in the future. In many ways computer technicians have significantly less practical skill than the cable tuggers and commissioning teams who build access control, alarm and HVAC systems.But the highly probable advent of plug and play security devices delivered with a drop cable for local switch connection is what installers need to be preparing for. It’s a big deal because once we reach the point of power-over-Ethernet,plug-and-play alarm sensors, cameras and access readers, there’s going to be a quantum shift in the electronic security business. John Adams – Editor