Security System Integration

Mobile Apps

IP-based Technology


Mass Notification


Laser Ranging

Technology advances are bringing significant changes to the security industry. In 2013 we’re likely to feel the impact of at least seven new technologies or developments among existing technologies. Here’s our list of the top seven security industry technologies to watch in 2013, including how security dealers told us each development would affect their business.

1. Tighter Integration of Disparate Systems

Integrating different types of security systems — including video surveillance, intrusion protection and access control — has become increasingly sophisticated as time goes by. Several dealers say the physical security information management (PSIM) standard has simplified the integration process.

“Manufacturers are trying to get to a single platform,” comments JohnWojdan, president of Buffalo, N.Y.-based Great Lakes Building Systems.

The days of integration based on wires and relays between sensors and other network elements are fading, adds Jamie Bienenfeld, vice president of technology for Miami Beach-based York Security Solutions. And where manufacturers previously relied on proprietary protocols, “today there is more a standard type of approach toward a lot of devices and information,” Bienenfeld explains. “It allows for a simpler way of integrating.”

He notes, however, that instead of PSIM being a separate platform, “a lot of systems are becoming PSIM in their own right.” For example, he says that York Security often integrates disparate systems through a Genetec access control system which offers on-site security staff a single interface for multiple systems, including intrusion protection.

2013 also will see increased emphasis on PSIM as a cloud-based offering, predicts Ray Coulombe, founder and managing director of Security Specifiers, who included cloud-based PSIM as one of 10 key technology trends in a presentation at the recent International Security Conference  in New York.

2. Greater Variety of Mobile Apps

Wireless apps are moving beyond simply allowing owners to check in on their homes from their smartphones.  Coulombe names several other systems that will have mobile apps available soon — including access control, visitor management, video management systems, mass notification and others.

Along with the rise of mobile apps comes a rise in recurring monthly revenues (RMR), which can help offset declines in what dealers can charge upfront for installations, notes Nikki Johnson, vice president for Rochester, Minn.-based Custom Alarm.

“We have seen a real shift in what our business looks like,” Johnson comments. “As opposed to larger installations and smaller monitoring, we have smaller installs and larger monitoring.”

3. IP Everywhere

“We’ve been talking about IP video for several years, but the cost and availability of IP-based technology has limited its growth rate in certain markets,” notes Jeremy Brecher, vice president of technology- electronic security, for North Canton, Ohio-based Diebold. “As we look to 2013, we expect the gaps to begin to flatten. The compelling reasons to utilize IP video technology are growing, while the cost of the technology is shrinking, especially when it comes to leveraging IP to deliver and store video. At the same time the technology is becoming more affordable, its capabilities are exploding, and the model has become more distributed; for example, IP video gives users the option to record locally, remotely, on the camera. All of these elements will make IP a much more attractive option in 2013.”

And IP isn’t just for video. York Security now uses IP technology exclusively for all types of systems, Bienenfeld says. With more and more customers forgoing traditional phone service, York now recommends customers use IP alarm communicators with cellular backup. Although many security dealers prefer cellular-based systems, Bienenfeld prefers IP-based systems because they support faster programming.

4. 3G/4G Communicators Arrive Just in Time

Security dealers increasingly are relying on digital cellular service for communication with the central station. But cellular network operators caught some in the security industry by surprise when they announced plans to phase out the second-generation (2G) GSM/GPRS networks on which cellular communicators have relied for several years.

“It became more of a problem sooner than anticipated,” observes Jeremy Bates, general manager for Lexington, Ky.-based Bates Security.

Fortunately, communicators that use 3G and 4G networks for communications have begun to appear and will be more widely available in 2013.

“We’re trying to do 4G as much as we can,” notes Johnson, who hopes that approach will extend the number of years before the company has to begin another swap-out process.

5. Mass Notification on the Rise

Several tragic shootings in 2012 are driving more and more business, education and government customers to consider installing mass notification systems. “Customers are getting pressure from their employees,” Wojdan observes.

As Wojdan explains, recent changes in national fire codes have created new opportunities for security dealers in this area. “In the past it was taboo to use a fire system for anything but fire,” he explains. “But now you can use it for mass notification.”

Even if a customer does not intend to install mass notification right away, Wojdan recommends installing speaker strobes rather than horn strobes with fire systems so that the speaker strobes can support voice commands in the future.

6. Z-Wave Creates New Opportunities

Thermostats and locks that communicate wirelessly using technology based on the Z-Wave standard will create new sales opportunities for integrators.  With Z-Wave, customers will be able to unlock doors or adjust thermostats remotely using their smartphone or other cellular device.

“We’re excited about all the different things we can now provide customers that make the security system more sexy, so to speak,” Bates says. “And from a business standpoint, it makes the customer more sticky.”

Custom Alarm is putting a plan together to offer Z-Wave devices but is still resolving details, Johnson reveals. For example, the company wants to determine whether it should form a partnership with an HVAC company to install the thermostats and what it should do if a lockset doesn’t work. “We’re trying to make sure that when we roll it out we do it right,” Johnson says.

7. Laser Ranging Offers New Outdoor Options

Security dealers have a new option for securing outdoor sites. It’s called laser ranging and, according to Coulombe, it works “irrespective of time of day” and is “a much better all-weather device” than video.

“Think of it as a free-space OTDR,” explains Coulombe, in a reference to the optical time domain reflectometers that use lasers to measure the performance of fiber optic links. “It scans left to right and back and forth. It sends out a laser beam. If it bounces off and comes back; by measuring the time you know how far an object is.”

The technology lets dealers draw a protection area “box” within the device’s field-of-view so alerts are generated when a human intruder enters the boxed area. Laser ranging sensors are largely immune to false alarms because they can distinguish a human intruder from other targets, Coulombe explains.

The ranging laser concept has been available in Europe for some time but only recently became available in the United States. And although it costs five to 10 times more than a video solution, Coulombe believes it could catch on here for challenging outdoor installations. “Success in 2013 depends on the ability of the guys selling it to educate the market,” Coulombe concludes.


Add 1 more: Business Intelligence


Information technology advances have given rise to increased use of business intelligence, and some companies — including Seattle-based Aronson Security Group — are taking that capability very seriously, with the goal of improving the operations of their clients.

“Integrators need to know the business better to be able to assist in workflow and technology use patterns,” observes Phil Aronson, ASG chief executive.

As William Plante, ASG director of professional services, explains, “Performance management begins with defining your objectives, the ‘critical success factors’ and the metrics by which you will measure performance  . . . For each objective you arrive at, you must determine the actions that will lead to a successful outcome. These are your critical success factors or CSFs. Then you add a performance metric that defines the success of a CSF and a target for individual and organizational achievement.”

ASG vice president of Strategic Development, Nigel Waterton, notes the types of things that security organizations should measure include, among other things, employee performance, regulatory and standards compliance, and technology lifecycle management. The latter could be based on a “viability index” that measures service costs, availability costs, levels of risk incurred with downtime and the lifecycle of the total solution, Waterton explains.



More Online


For more information about some of the technologies explored in this article, check out these links:


PSIM — A good primer on this topic is available here:


Mobile Apps — SDM explored a variety of mobile video apps in this feature story:


IP Everywhere — SDM talked with several security dealers that use IP alarm communications in this article:


3G/4G Alarm Communicators — The 2G Sunset and new alarm communications alternatives based on 3G and 4G are discussed in this article:


Mass Notification — New options for mass notification systems that leverage fire systems are discussed in this article:


Z-Wave — Numerous recent security product announcements involve Z-Wave. Check them out at this link: