As my daughter is finishing high school and headed to college, I have realized a couple of key truths: first, college is insanely expensive, and since my girl is heavily into math and chemistry, I cannot talk with her about her studies.

While I have trouble understanding my daughter’s studies, it can be equally challenging for low-voltage contractor personnel to fathom and keep up with the latest innovations in the IP technologies that are overwhelming our industry. From salespeople to technicians, the blizzard of IP devices and options can create confusion and uncertainty, which will likely result in lost sales, lost profit  and customer dissatisfaction with the systems that they have obtained.

To be successful in our changing industry, sales and technical personnel must have working knowledge of three disciplines: proper cabling and termination, IP networks and programming of devices, and specific application knowledge of typical IP devices such as cameras, access control, IoT devices and IP audio systems. We can roughly divide these three knowledge sets into a high school, college, and grad school scenario.

High School — proper cabling and termination — training and certification

Target students: technicians and service people

Most of our devices need some type of cabling, whether we are providing IP connectivity or combined IP and PoE. Today’s media adapters from vendors such as Altronix and Nitek can deliver the Ethernet connectivity and DC voltage over existing coax and twisted pair cables.

A complete training in the various techniques needed to properly terminate and test multimode fiber optics, UTP Cat5e/6, and coax cable is available by obtaining the “Termination and Testing Technician” self-study flash drive. This program includes lectures, equipment and tool lists, live videos that demonstrate the proper use of specific tools, and also includes a complete “Termination, Testing and Usage of Alternative Cables for IP” manual. This training program is vendor neutral and students can receive the “TTT” certification after attending a live class and taking an examination that is approved by the Electronic Technicians Association.

The self-study flash drives are available at ADI part #3X-TTTManual. For more information visit my YouTube channel at “Slayton Solutions”.

College — electronic security networking technician — training and certification

Target students: technicians, service people, and sales personnel

To sell, install, program and commission IP-enabled low voltage security devices and systems such as IP cameras, a detailed knowledge of how Ethernet, IP and the Internet work is necessary. The Electronic Security Networking Technician (ESNT) program is a vendor-neutral complete training in IP as it relates to the electronic security and low-voltage industries. This program was original developed in 2009, and has been revamped and refreshed in 2017 to inform students on the latest in IP technologies. More than 1,000 technicians and salespeople around the U.S. and Canada have received their ESNT certification after studying the materials and taking the written test from the ETA.

The ESNT self-study flash drive includes nine lectures, labs, quizzes, access to a sample ESNT test, and a 60-page manual, the “EZ Guide to Connecting IP cameras to the Internet.” This training package is also available at ADI part #3X-ESNTDISC1.

Completing the ESNT training and certification program will provide technicians and salespeople with all the basic networking skills they need to be successful in sales, installation and servicing. You will not only talk the talk but you will be walking the walk.

Grad School Intelligent Networking Video, Second Edition, Fredrik Nilsson

Target Students: salespeople, project managers, company management

In my experience one of the sharpest people in our industry is Mr. Fredrik Nilsson, vice president of the Americas for Axis Communications. Nilsson and Axis have been providing comprehensive IP training in live class, webinar and written formats for several years.

In the second edition of his ground-breaking Intelligent Network Video book, Nilsson provides very clear information and examples of most aspects of IP surveillance video usage and applications. What I found refreshing when reading the book is that while Axis products are shown in some of the graphics, this book is truly vendor-neutral. I also found the Table of Contents and complete indexing extremely accurate and helpful. Need to know about IP audio? Go to page 140. The graphics are also top-shelf, with simple diagrams that require no interpretation to help the reader understand a concept or application.

Written in a very straightforward voice, the Intelligent Networking Video book also provides a very handy reference guide to all of the specific aspects of IP networking for security systems including network layout, storage methods, VMS systems, all of the various IP camera types (infrared, thermal, panoramic and others) as well as critical network security information.

This book should be available for reference for all personnel in our industry. I highly recommend that you abuse your Amazon account and order this book today. Your small investment will reap huge rewards as you will be able to out-class your competition by crafting efficient and effective IP surveillance camera systems and solutions.

Consider your network training needs, and think about the future of our industry and your company. Will you be competitive in 2020? Will you still be in business in 2022 as the low-end residential and commercial alarm and video systems become increasingly DIY, eliminating potential clients for your systems and services?

IP is here to stay, and we all need to know how to make it work for us and our customers. The training modules and book detailed above can educate you and your personnel in IP, making your sales offerings more competitive, your installations faster with fewer call backs, and will show that your company has invested in the knowledge that’s needed to make this IP stuff work.