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Security Electronics: IP or not IP

I think any thoughtful electronic security person who has been paying attention to the swing towards networked solutions over the past 15 years would agree with Les. After more than 20 years covering case studies in the security industry I personally have no doubt that on bigger applications the IT guys are profoundly involved. This experience is the same as that of consultants, system designers and integrators across the industry. 
Even though many networked CCTV and access control systems are supported by dedicated subnets, when you walk into a network room to view storage servers, fibre racks and network switches it’s clangingly obvious that things are not the same. 
But there’s a point that should be made here. For installers, integrators and end users, this change is something we’ve been living through since the late 1990s. End users, installers and integrators have been quietly and unknowingly morphing into the IT industry for more than a decade.
Now, we all know there’s plenty of analogue gear still being sold – the electronic security function remains a hybrid with analogue devices ported onto networks for centralised management and monitoring. I can’t see this state of affairs changing suddenly. We will be a hybrid industry for some time longer. 
But there are issues we must face in truth and these include licensing of security installers and consultants by police on the basis of little or no professional training, while IT integrators of high quality and qualification cheerfully install and assist with installation of IP-based security devices with no licenses at all. 
Can the security associations and police seriously expect to be able to license the IT industry? To police the IT industry? To punish it? To insist IT people refrain from installing <I>any<I> devices that might contribute to the security function? Do we seriously think the NSW Police Department – the police departments and licensing registries of the other states are going to govern the IT industry? 
Then there’s training. There’s been virtually nothing done about training for the longest time. Full credit to small and medium sized installation and integration outfits for supporting TAFE apprenticeships in the absence of real industry support, but if the security industry continues to drive hands off, someone is going to grab the reins. 
Now, don’t make any mistake about this fundamental truth. While there are going to analogue components in the future, these will be alarm detection devices and panels, access control readers and perhaps specialised cameras, while the structure of our systems will comprise network components. 
Because of this, we need to deliver some coherent IT training to our techs. It’s not as if the manufacturers don’t realise this. Quality suppliers and manufacturers like Inner Range, Hills Industries, Bosch, Axis Communications, GE, Gallagher Group and many, many others have serious training programs designed to teach customers how to install their high end network-capable products. 
This fundamental ought to tell the powers that be something serious – that the companies that shape the nature of the electronic security industry are not the same companies they used to be. When I sit down with product managers these days it’s all about network compression and HP Procurve switches. If there’s analogue, there are encoders. 
Now, I’m not convinced our industry will suddenly become a rump of the IT market with drone factories offshore spewing out bland, grey devices for 5 dollars each that miraculously provide high quality images and the sort of performance and reliability that end users need from their networked electronic security solutions. 
But, just as we have absorbed optics, storage, sensing devices, lighting technologies, perimeter technologies, wired comms, mesh, intercom, building management, fire sensing and reporting solutions and so many more, we have absorbed an IT strata which ultimately most our systems will live and breathe on. If this scares any of you, it really should not. You’re already a hybrid, you’re already part of the IT industry.  


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