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Security industry heats up, as China tries to catch up

Security industry heats up, as China tries to catch up

Editor / Provider: a&s Editorial Team | Updated: 6/25/2015 | Article type: Hot Topics

From the beginning of this decade there has been much talk about the growth of Chinese physical security manufacturers and how they had begun to hurt the market-shares of Western and other Asian companies with extremely low-cost products. Analysts and media have repeatedly highlighted the pressure that Chinese manufacturers exert on their foreign counterparts and how this is changing the global physical security business landscape.

Two major Chinese manufacturers, Hikvision and Dahua, had aggressively expanded their presence in global markets by 2014, moving up the value chain but continuing to maintain low prices. Research firm, Memoori Business Intelligence, had also warned that some very misleading figures are being published about their dominant size by basing their revenues on total system compared against product sales for Western companies.

Needless to say, with such strong opinions from industry-observers, distributors and systems integrators (SI) are considering how they should move forward in terms of partnerships and purchases, without having to compromise too much on their margins.

Persisting Quality and Durability Concerns
Despite a general uplift in outlook for some Chinese manufacturers, certain concerns still exist on their performance and these have prompted some distributers and SIs to take a wait and watch attitude. They believe that the quality has improved, but not to their level of satisfaction.

Nigel Hamley, Director of IPTV Division at the US-based Marshall Electronics, whose company has significant experience in multiple verticals including medical, government, education, AV market, and enterprise security, had come to Secutech 2015 in search of expanding its involvement with IP vendors that his company could partner with to diversify its product offerings. He feels that over the past five years, the major change he has seen in the industry is the growth of China.

As of now, his company has not purchased Chinese products as they have relied on the technological and advanced quality levels seen in Taiwanese and Korean products, but he admitted that Chinese manufacturers are improving and that in the future they might decide to purchase components such as parts for dome camera, mechanical and electronic parts, and chipsets, and may look to integrate those parts into finished goods.

Some SIs, while acknowledging that the quality of Chinese products have improved, pointed out that there are still concerns on their durability. Jignesh Shah, MD of India-based SI, Dots Info Systems, which has been in the video surveillance industry for the past eight years, stressed this point.

He said that the Indian market is flooded with Chinese products and that they are exerting strong pressure on the other brands, but added “if you are looking at a product to last from a year to three, then Chinese products are okay, if looking at a longer period, you have to look for other options.”

Roshan Punnilath, Head of Operations at Mega Security Systems in Saudi Arabia, too agreed that although the quality of Chinese products has improved, their durability is still a concern in the market. Distributors compensate this by providing extended warranties and replacement offers for damaged goods, but such haphazard solutions cannot be accepted for crucial installations like government projects.

Some distributors attribute these quality and durability issues to the Chinese manufacturers' lack of understanding of the industry. According to Johan Haryanto, MD of distributer, Hotware, that began business in Indonesia eight years ago as VIVOTEK's sole dealer for the country, Taiwanese brands stand out in comparison due to their knowledge of the field.

“It's because of the experience. Even though some [Chinese] companies are growing, they lack experience in the field,” Haryanto said. “So when compared within the same field, non-Chinese brands are better. Even though Chinese products are selling more, their Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) levels and number of defective pieces are still high.”

Margins, specialized requirements and service drive buyers to Taiwan
As the global economy tightens and businesses look to cut corners and remain profitable, it is inevitable that distributors and SIs give adequate focus to their income margins. This, in itself, is a difficult task when customers become more reluctant to spend money. But things become even more complicated when manufacturers themselves place their products at the lower end of the price chart.

Although a low-price product might look attractive to an end user, it's hardly the same for distributors and SIs who are forced to squeeze their profit margins.

Michael Grek, from Metro Global Technology Solutions in Australia said that he was looking to purchase Taiwanese products to offset the weak margins offered by Chinese manufacturers. He added that at present the Australian market is flooded with Chinese products, and as everyone begins to sell the same product, distributors are forced undercut each other constantly, a practice that hurts not just individual businesses but also the whole industry.

M Kumaraguru, MD of Malaysia-based SI, Maha Asia Sdn Bhd, took this point further, as he said that the lower prices of Chinese products are killing the market indirectly. “You need to maintain a certain standard and not try to keep taking the prices lower and lower until the margins become extremely narrow for us,” he said.

This concern is seen in other developed markets as well, according to Jonathan Okina, CEO of Okiusa, a US-based distributor of surveillance and alarm equipment with about 18 years of experience. Okina said that with Chinese brands like Hikvision becoming popular, distributors' work has doubled and tripled from before and they are forced to lower prices to stay competitive. Moises Faroy, President and CEO of another US-based distributor, CCTV Core, agreed to this, adding that low-price products from China and the price wars they have brought with them are the biggest market challenges at present.

Yet another key reason that prompts buyers to look to Taiwan is that Taiwanese manufacturers are able to provide solutions to various specific needs. Syed Jawed Ali Zaidi, President of GSS-Japan, a company that does systems integration for solar power plants, said that he comes to Taiwan for his purchases because Taiwanese manufacturers are able to provide him better customized services, which help him integrate different brands easily. Masahiko Yamamoto, President of another Japanese installer, Safety & Security, agrees that Taiwanese products are better and are improving every year, meeting Japanese quality requirements.

Then there is also the issue of service. Daniel Brami, Head of Business Development in Building Department at Mecalectro in France said that his company prefers products that are made in Taiwan, not just because of the quality but also because of the prompt response that they get from Taiwanese companies.

“China usually doesn't answer to customers,” he said. “I don't know if it's because China so big they don't care? We ask questions to both China and Taiwan [companies]. Taiwan answers on same day but China takes four to five days.”

Dean Klobucar, Export Director of Alarm Automatika, a SI and distributor based in Croatia, sums this up as Taiwanese companies being professionally stronger, despite having to compete with the large quantities of products that are produced in China. He added that from an SI's point of view, such a strong professional support is crucial to the business.

Chinese Attempt to outgrow the ‘cheap' label
Chinese products evidently struggle when it comes to matching up to the required quality standards. But perhaps the biggest challenge that Chinese manufacturers face may not be the quality of their products itself, but the perception that Chinese products are low in quality. Years of exporting low-quality products at extremely low prices have created a general opinion that Chinese manufacturers cannot be trusted. Listening to views from some distributors and SIs, it was evident that consistent efforts from some major Chinese vendors to change this label have had some effect.

Harry Chang, from the Singapore-based SI, King Island, hinted that the perception of Chinese products in his local market is improving, as he elaborated on his recent experience of buying a Dahua product. Chang said in the past the company used low-quality material, like plastic casing for an IR camera, and their R&D was not sufficient. Now he found that only the base of the product is made of plastic, which is an improvement over the past.

Echoing similar sentiments, Somchai Prajaksoot, MD of Digital Focus, an exclusive distributor for Hikvision in Thailand, said that SIs in his country are increasingly interested in the Chinese brand, compared to the past. With a strong local presence, Prajaksoot's company has managed to expand Hikvision products, especially in large government projects in the country. Recently Digital Focus won many government projects, which could never have happened five years ago.

Alberto Antinucci from the Italy-based Home Defender considers this a global trend, adding that it is no longer possible to generalize products from China as of low-quality. All countries have producers that are good and bad and eventually the demand depends on the buyer's needs.

“Today, you can't put a label such that if it's made in China, it's poor quality,” he said, adding that some of the Chinese companies that he had encountered were producing good-quality products.

Such thoughts have prompted some distributors and SIs to focus more on the product and not where it comes from. Edo Pribadi, MD of SI Adhivian Mitrakarsa in Indonesia said that he does not care where the product comes from as long as the quality is good.

“I'm not looking at where the products come from, what I need to know is what functions the products provide,” Pribadi said, adding that if the products from China can come with a guarantee of longer durability, he will go for it. Joni Iswanto, Director of another Indonesia-based SI and distributor, Lintastama Jelajah Informatika, was of the same opinion.

But this cannot be seen as a general trend, as several markets still hold a cautious approach to Chinese products. According to Kumaraguru, most of Malaysian market still considers Chinese manufacturers as of low price and low quality. Mario Sergio L. Machado, from the Brazilian distributor Telematica, also said that clients in his local market believe Taiwan products have a better image compared to their Chinese counterparts.

Ahmed Faiz, GM of Khonaini Computer Technologies in Saudi Arabia, had similar comments about his local market. He said that Chinese products have only managed to penetrate the low-end consumer market, while large projects are still handled by US, European and Taiwanese products.

Increased competition to aid the industry
As a general market observation though, some SIs are of the opinion that the rise of Chinese products may help the overall industry because it will boost competition. Theoretically, competition would limit complacency and force manufacturers to improve themselves. Daniel Ananthan, Head of Enterprise Business at VS Information Systems, one of the largest SIs in Sri Lanka, concurs to this idea.

“I personally believe that arrival of Chinese products is good for the market,” Ananthan said. “Once they improve themselves, other major manufacturers are also forced to change themselves and perhaps look for competitive prices.”

Such a thought does make sense, but not exactly in the sense that Chinese manufacturers are now viewing the market. Creating perfect competition does regulate the market to set realistic product prices, but Chinese manufacturers, with their ultra-low prices, do not seem to be looking for this.

Compete to Innovate, not to lower prices
Regardless of the discussions on the quality of manufacturers, industry players believe that given the sheer number of companies involved, the Chinese manufacturing sector might soon consolidate. This would inevitably remove the weaker manufacturers and let the good-quality brands survive. Some believe that at present, there are just a few Chinese manufacturers that can stand the test of time.

But regardless of improving quality, Chinese manufacturers continue to focus on low-pricing as their differentiating factor. Market analysts, while acknowledging that non-Chinese brands might need to compromise on margins while competing with China, warn against making price the sole factor for competition.

“Shaving off some margin may be necessary but to compete on price would be a disastrous policy for the Chinese will continue to lower their price if they have to,” noted Memoori Business Intelligence, indicating that the inevitable answer is, and has always been, innovation.

This is in line with opinions from some of the distributors and SIs as well. Golan Wishniya, CEO of Worldshop, a distributor from U.S., believes that Taiwanese products have better quality but said that he would like to see them focus more on smart solutions, and make more complex products like the stone camera, which are different, but are easy to use.

In the end, it is evident that distributors and SIs believe quality is of utmost priority, especially in the longer term. There is an instant attraction to lower prices, but such a consistent push to keep the costs down will not only harm product-quality, but is also a destructive business practice that crunches earnings. Going forward, the only constructive option is to invest more in R&D, understand customer requirements and proactively provide innovative solutions.

Systems integration in banking sector: tricks to crack the hard nut

Systems integration in banking sector: tricks to crack the hard nut

Editor / Provider: Prasanth Aby Thomas, a&s International | Updated: 5/26/2015 | Article type: Hot Topics

Financial institutions are at the heart of contemporary global economy. Modern corporates that are accustomed to the convenience of transnational trade and commerce would never function without the support of banks that are working around the clock. Customers used to the convenience of accessing cash any time and making cashless transactions too would be at a loss without them.

The banks, on their part, are going all out to make sure that they are able to reach each and every possible customer. To this end, they have embraced technology and made use of the internet for electronic, and more recently, mobile banking. In the U.S. alone, despite the slow growth of the financial sector post the financial crisis, the year 2014 saw banks put up a strong performance in terms of assets and liabilities, according to the US Federal Reserve.

Concerns on a Lukewarm Approach to Security in Banking
Yet, despite such an aggressive financial rebound and its subsequent contribution to the GDP, banks continue to be a dismal vertical for the security industry. Even with the sensitive nature of their business and risky character of their transactions, banks have largely abstained from adopting modern video surveillance technology.

To most systems integrators (SI), this attitude is illogical. Banks are willing to move ahead with Internet and mobile banking but are reluctant to make use of similar technology to make their systems secure. According to Bob Mesnik, President of New York-based SI Kintronics, convincing banks to improve their security is an uphill task.

“They are reluctant to spend money in security and we have not found any way to convince them otherwise,” said Mesnik. “The larger banks don't seem to care at all about security, which is very strange. Outside the U.S. there is more interest at smaller banks, but in this case they are mostly interested in monitoring performance of their employees.”

Mesnik's complaint echoes sentiments from several other SIs across the industry. Major reasons often attributed to this reluctance from banks are concerns on safety and cost effectiveness. But even when these apprehensions are put to rest, banks are not enthusiastic to move forward.

Understanding the Challenges in Financial Sector
But this is not to say that banks have totally remained off limits when it comes to upgrading their video surveillance systems. Numerous case studies from manufacturers as well as SIs show instances where banks have moved forward to IP technology and felt it was worth spending money on. Tyco, a company with significant experience in the vertical, explained the challenges that SIs face when dealing with banking sector clients.

“Clients are working with tighter budgetary constraints and have to prioritize those projects which are deemed absolutely necessary, whether this is due to replacing dated security installation, meeting regulatory demands or responding to business expansion strategies,” said Chris Jones, Regional Global Account Manager for Installation & Services at Tyco Asia Pacific.

“A number of clients are also outsourcing their sourcing or procurement departments. These companies are more aggressive in their scrutiny and more likely to prefer to go to tender to encourage competitive pricing.”

Aidan Anderson, Security Consultant at Red Leaf Consultancy in UK, elaborated this point further. According to him, not all SIs are aware of how the banking sector operates and how they view physical security.

Although from a security-industry perspective protecting bank assets may be seen as a priority, banks are more likely to think in terms of controlling certain identified risks. Security is only one among these risks, the others being liquidity, capital and regulatory. Methods of controlling risks may include upgrading systems and equipment, but it might just as well be adopting certain procedures or buying insurance products.

“Within a bank, security is generally seen as another department, rather than a special case and as with all departments any investment has to provide returns, whether those are measured in terms of increased revenues, cost savings, process efficiencies or a reduction in headcount,” said Anderson.

“The challenge for systems integrators is to work with potential clients to establish how their products could, in terms of risk and for the security department, provide benefits to the extent that the business will invest in them, rather than the competing requirements of all other departments.”

Paul Bremner, Senior Analyst for Video Surveillance - Security Services at IHS, who works closely with the systems integration community, added a few more variables that impact security related decisions in banks.

“The banking sector itself can be divided into different sectors, there are the retail branch locations, the distribution centers, and the corporate offices; each of these has different requirements with its own unique challenges,” said Bremner.

“For an integrator trying to win business in this sector, it is important to understand that the level at which the decision to install or retrofit a security system can vary at each of these locations.”

The decision to hire a particular SI would also depend heavily on where it is taken. If the decision is made locally, it could level the playing field for regional as well as national level SIs. But if the decision is taken at the national level, then banks are certain to choose SIs with a national presence and relevant experience.

“This makes having a large geographic footprint an important selling point for an integrator looking to win business across the entire banking sector,” Bremner pointed out. “Another requirement from an integrator that goes hand-in-hand with this large footprint is a proven track-record of servicing these financial institutions.”


Banks to Favor Surveillance Beyond Security
The technological developments for banking security are not unique to the sector, but their applications are. According to Paul Bremner, Senior Analyst for Video Surveillance - Security Services at IHS, banks tend to proceed with investment decisions in new security equipment and solutions after considering the ROI and reduced operational costs it may bring. Among this, reducing operational cost is mostly about bringing down the headcount, but in terms of increasing ROI, banks are interested in business intelligence analytics.

According to a survey from Cisco, 43 percent of US customers believe their primary bank does not understand their needs. Thirty one percent feel their bank is not helping them reach their primary financial goals.

Banks are increasingly aware of this gap in their service and are actively seeking a solution. This requirement, coupled with a rising need to increase efficiencies of the branches and do more with less, clearly paves the way for banks to utilise their surveillance systems for analytic data.

“Technologies such as business intelligence analytics can help a bank's branch locations improve their operational metrics, such as queue line monitoring,” said Bremner.

“This allows the bank to create staffing models which are in tune with the flow of customers throughout the day, preventing the bank from being overwhelmed. Technology such as this is helping banks improve their customer's waiting times, while also optimising their staffing schedules.”


Improvised Marketing Strategies to Win Clients
Considering the trend of banks preferring experienced, national-level companies, it's natural that banking sector appears like an uphill task for most SIs. But analysts suggest companies to rethink their marketing strategies to improve their presence in the market.

At present sales strategies are centered on the promotion of equipment and software packages as separate solutions, with integration referring to how the separate components are installed together. Some focus is also given to interoperability and lower downtime with the capacity to remotely repair most faults. While these may work in a number of sectors, it wouldn't make a mark in the banking sector unless the product being sold is unique.

“However where there is a leading strategy, it is working with potential clients to design systems,” Anderson said.

“This does require a great deal of time and effort by the systems integrator, as it might not only be the security department that has to be engaged, but the IT department and perhaps other equipment suppliers. The overriding advantage in doing this is obvious but for the systems integrator who has put the work in, the outcome might not necessarily be the right answer for them.”

A key point that Anderson makes here is that even though systems integration on its own will help reduce costs even after the initial investment, its impact is not significant when compared to a security department's or the organization's budget. Hence the focus should be on generating opportunities that reflect the ongoing business need of matching their strategy, understanding what their driving factors are and creating solutions that not only focus on integrated systems but how that could be used with other security functions to create a winning position.

Elaborating on the reasons for Tyco's success in this business sector, Jones indicated that the crucial point was enterprise solutions that would integrate several platforms deployed for security surveillance in accordance with the client's requirements. The company's PSIM solution has been instrumental in this aspect.

“Tyco's PSIM solution can provide an open platform for integration to get a centralized view of security activity,” Jones said. “Its ability to turn disparate information sources into real-time actionable intelligence, analyze the situation to obtain timely and accurate insights, and automated workflow results in quicker and more effective incident response and resolution which enforce incident response processes, mitigate risk and reduce operational costs.”

Some systems integrators are also trying a more traditional approach of adding values to their services to increase their clients. George Zarifopoulos from the Marketing & Communication Department of Athens-based SI, Takis G. Zarifopoulos, said his company offers a free maintenance contract for a specific period of time.

“Giving two years period free maintenance, directly adds more fidelity and reliability in our projects,” Zarifopoulos explained.

Security Systems Tailored for the Financial Climate
According to a report from Ernest and Young, the major trend in the banking sector for 2015 will be to increase profitability but not look for large revenues. To this end, banks will need to reinvent themselves, with leaner, more flexible business models that can survive a slow global economic growth.

A modern video surveillance system that goes beyond offering security and aids in enhancing the bank's business would be an ideal solution to bank's requirements to survive the weak economic climate. At the same time a tailored and customized marketing strategy that projects the advantages beyond security would be what SIs should focus on to make their mark in the banking sector.

Xtralis VESDA-E VEA and HeiTel 4G body worn video solutions win Security Industry Association 2015 New Product Showcase Awards

Xtralis VESDA-E VEA and HeiTel 4G body worn video solutions win Security Industry Association 2015 New Product Showcase Awards

Editor / Provider: Xtralis | Updated: 5/5/2015 | Article type: Hot Topics

VESDA-E VEA brings very early warning ASD to office buildings, healthcare, retail, and educational facilities and more, giving people the world's best and most reliable smoke detection, to prevent fire threats. The HeiTel 4G Nano transmitter for body worn vests provides live streaming video to command and control centers, providing much greater intelligence and situational awareness, resulting in quicker & more effective response.

Two Xtralis solutions received prestigious awards at ISC West, largest security industry trade show in the USA. VESDA-E VEA aspirating smoke detector (ASD) won the Security Industry Association (SIA) 2015 New Product Showcase (NPS) Best in Fire & Life Safety Award, and the HeiTel 4G Body-Worn Nano streaming video transmitter received an Honorable Mention. Both solutions bring Xtralis' pro-active threat prevention innovation to new markets, providing vastly safer environments for people. VESDA-E VEA brings very early warning ASD to office buildings, healthcare, retail, and educational facilities and more, giving people the world's best and most reliable smoke detection, to prevent fire threats. The HeiTel 4G Nano transmitter for body worn vests provides live streaming video to command and control centers, providing much greater intelligence and situational awareness, resulting in quicker & more effective response. Both solutions provide countless millions of people reliable protection from threats with pro-active prevention through Xtralis innovation.

ISC West is the largest North American show in the security industry, attended by more than 23,000 professionals annually. The NPS award program was established in 1979 to recognize innovative products, services and solutions in electronic physical security and safety. Technologies showcased through the program are used in the protection of life and property in residential, commercial and institutional settings. Each year at ISC West, the NPS program recognizes excellence in several product and service categories and presents the prestigious Judges Choice and Best New Product awards. Product entries were presented to the NPS judging panel, which consists of authorities skilled and experienced in security technology design and application.

The VESDA-E VEA series of aspirating smoke detectors combine VESDA reliability and early warning smoke detection with pinpoint addressability and a variety of annunciation options. They use patented air sampling points and multi-channel micro-bore air-sampling with enhanced or standard alarm sensitivity setting for the sampling points. As a multi-channel addressable system, the VEA detector is able to divide a protected space into sampling locations, enabling the localization of a fire for faster incident response. The detectors are suitable for protection of areas where pinpoint location of fire events is essential, thus providing ideal fire detection solutions for offices, hospitals, schools, prisons, multi-story dwellings, cabinets in data centers and warehouse racks. A wide range of features provide flexibility, field programmability, enhanced connectivity and reduced total cost of ownership.

While current-generation VESDA was considered the benchmark for ASD systems, VESDA-E VEA surpasses that with VESDA trusted performance and can quickly add remote monitoring, servicing, and detection capabilities with the addition of bolt-on hardware modules called VESDA Stax, including a version of its award-winning VESDA ECO gas detection solution. VESDA-E VEA offers innovative & easy setup, configuration, remote monitoring, and connectivity options. A first in the industry, VESDA-E can be enhanced with downloadable software applications, called Xapps, which enable new, on-demand monitoring services. Available immediately are DustTrace, DieselTrace, and WireTrace Xapps, to monitor conditions and enable corrective response to take place before threats escalate. VESDA-E can be remotely and wirelessly monitored & managed using an iVESDA mobile app available on IOS & Android mobile devices. iVESDA mobility provides intelligent situational awareness for local & emergency personnel, vastly improving response time and effectiveness.

The HeiTel 4G Body-Worn Nano provides reliable transmission of live and recorded video, bi-directional audio, and GPS information over wireless technologies including 4G, LTE and CDMA mobile phone technology as well as satellite, Wi-Fi and broadband networks. The systems are battery powered, self-contained, untethered and ideal for easy, re-deployment for temporary, mobile or semi-permanent applications. Live and recorded video images and two-way audio can be monitored from a dedicated monitoring station, laptop, iPhone, iPad or Android device. Up to six separate connections can be made simultaneously to any system.

Danfoss rolls out Nedap's security platform AEOS globally

Danfoss rolls out Nedap's security platform AEOS globally

Editor / Provider: Nedap | Updated: 5/5/2015 | Article type: Security 50

Danfoss gives the green light for the international rollout of AEOS, Nedap's security platform. The next five years this platform will be introduced globally
at all 80 locations.

Danfoss - an international supplier of mechanical and electronic components for various industries - gives the green light for the international rollout of AEOS, Nedap's security platform. The next five years this platform will be introduced globally at all 80 locations. In 2014 Danfoss, together with Nedap, applied its company strategy ‘one company, one way' to a central strategy and programme for security and access control. The programme lays the foundation for increased security by optimising processes and using fewer resources.

Danfoss is an international supplier that plays an active role in the main growth themes in a world that is rapidly changing: infrastructure, food, energy and climate are the focus of their business. Danfoss has clients in many different industrial sectors in more than 100 countries and employs over 24,000 people. In 2013 Danfoss selected Nedap as its global partner for physical security after a competitive selection process with the top of the international security industry. A component of this partnership is the software-based security platform AEOS which was developed by Nedap. This platform integrates access control, intrusion detection and video management. Danfoss decided to partner with Nedap because it offers a proven and standardised approach for the global implementation of physical security.

One integrated platform
With its Global Client Programme Nedap supports Danfoss in the development of a strategy, technology and a central server environment. ‘We wanted to achieve a higher efficiency and Nedap's Global Client Programme has made this possible. It has already proven itself on 7 locations in North America, Europe and Asia. Previously, the preparation of the implementation of a security solution on location took at least four weeks. With Nedap this is possible in one week,' says Fritz Lorenzen, Security Manager at Danfoss.

Now that the central programme is up and running and the first locations have been completed successfully, Danfoss gives the go-ahead for the global rollout. ‘Danfoss is ready to migrate all 80 locations to Nedap's security platform AEOS in the next five years and we look forward to it with much confidence,' says Henrik Hansen, Head of Real Estate Portfolio and Facility Director at Danfoss.

The merger of Dorma and Kaba creates second-largest supplier

The merger of Dorma and Kaba creates second-largest supplier

Editor / Provider: Blake Kozak, IHS analyst | Updated: 5/4/2015 | Article type: Hot Topics

Dorma and Kaba recently announced merger plans, which could have an interesting impact on the physical access-control industry in the coming years. Dorma is a provider of access solutions and related services, and the company is a global market leader in door closers, automatic door systems and glass fittings, while Kaba is a global leader for access control, enterprise data collection and key systems.

Our Take
The access-control industry – including readers, panels, cards, software and electronic locks -- is highly fragmented, and the top ten vendors in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) comprised about half of the market last year. According to the most recent IHS report on electronic access control, the merger of Kaba and Dorma would make the combined company the second-largest player in EMEA's access-control industry, second only to Assa Abloy.

Dorma began expanding its portfolio in 2012 with the acquisition of RCI -- and again in 2014 with the acquisition of Farpointe Data. While the acquisition of RCI complemented Dorma's existing portfolio, Farpointe Data allowed Dorma to further penetrate the government-equipment category with products that are complaint with federal information processing standards (FIPS). Kaba's acquisition of Keyscan in 2014 helped to further solidify the company's presence in the American region and gain an additional foothold in the access control as a service (ACaaS) market.

In this merger Kaba and Dorma would combine complementary product offerings, and perhaps fill gaps in each company's current portfolio, as they relate to physical security and entrance-control equipment. Dorma will bring to the deal door automation-control expertise (including revolving doors, swing doors, slide doors and industrial doors); while Kaba offers a larger portfolio of pedestrian-control equipment (such as turnstiles, gates and security doors), as well as hospitality and commercial electronic-locking devices.

There will continue to be more acquisitions and mergers during the remainder of 2015 and into 2016, as companies look to better position themselves within total solutions and platforms. While this merger is more complementary in terms of existing portfolios, we can expect to see even more mergers and acquisitions surrounding video surveillance, access control and other disparate systems in the next 12-24 months.

>>> Dorma and Kaba announce merger plans

ONVIF releases first client test tool for Profiles S, G, & C

ONVIF releases first client test tool for Profiles S, G, & C

Editor / Provider: ONVIF | Updated: 4/9/2015 | Article type: Hot Topics

ONVIF, the leading global standardization initiative for IP-based physical security products, announced the release of its first Client Test Tool, which tests clients for conformance to ONVIF's Profile S, G, and C specifications. The new test tool specifications are now available to members on the ONVIF website within the Developers' Forum.

ONVIF's Client Test Tool allows hardware and software-based clients such as video management systems, building management systems, physical security information management (PSIM) systems to be tested for conformance to ONVIF profile specifications. The Client Test Tool determines conformance to the mandatory requirements of Profiles S, G and C.

The new test tool allows ONVIF to verify that the client has been tested with multiple devices and that the client meets conformance specifications...brings ONVIF one step closer to a transparent and integrated process to achieve ONVIF conformance.

Previously, manufacturers needed to claim that their client worked successfully with a minimum of three individual profile devices in order to obtain a Declaration of Conformance. The new test tool allows ONVIF to verify that the client has been tested with multiple devices and that the client meets conformance specifications.

"ONVIF's Client Test Tool was created to answer the physical security community's call for increased interoperability and accountability,” said Hugo Brisson, Chair of ONVIF's Client Testing Workgroup. "With this initial release of the Client Test Tool, this brings ONVIF one step closer to a transparent and integrated process to achieve ONVIF conformance.”

The Client Test Tool tests conformance to the mandatory requirements of Profiles S for video streaming and configuration, Profile G for recording searches and Profile C for door/access point control. The conditional specifications for each profile will be included in the Client Test Tool's second release, currently scheduled for summer of 2015. New service releases will be introduced every six months to expand the test scope of the Client Test Tool and will address improvements in usability.

2015 Access control: Integrated and open standards rock

2015 Access control: Integrated and open standards rock

Editor / Provider: William Pao, a&s International | Updated: 3/10/2015 | Article type: Hot Topics

More and more integrated
Integration of access control with video surveillance or other security systems will continue to prevail. Such integration combining access control with video surveillance, perimeter control, and others offers a more holistic view to security managers, allowing greater visibility of the building and the people being secured.

But beyond physical security, access control can do much more, especially when it comes to managing staff, visitors, or other individuals within an entity. “End users continually seek complete back-office integration — that is, facilitating workflow from the time an individual is hired until the time he or she leaves the enterprise,” said Mitchell Kane, President of Vanderbilt Industries.

To optimize the performance of an integrated solution, access control is often used as the centerpiece of the system that other systems are integrated to. “It becomes the anchor platform, being able to integrate to provide a wider degree of solutions,” Ouellette said. “This is allowing us to integrate PSIMs, building management, visitor management, and so on. These things are an extension beyond access control to provide stronger value, but come back to being based on that anchor platform.”

IHS's Kozak, meanwhile, said whether access control serves as the head-end platform depends on the use case. “Some suggest that the building management system will be at the center. Active Directory could also play a central role,” he said.

“Overall, access control will have a central role in buildings over the next several years since it can determine logical access, flag a system for possible cyber-attack, integrate with training and HR, and provide an alert on a reader.”

Open standards rock
To ensure this kind of integration and interoperability, open standards are a must. “Today's access control customers require open, easy-to-use products that seamlessly integrate with other systems — especially video surveillance — in order to maximize security,” Kane said. “The adoption of these standards offers many benefits to security system users, of which freedom of choice and dealing with legacy might be the most important,” said Arjan Bouter, Head of Sales at Nedap Security Management. “Introducing standards allows clients to mix and match not only the cameras they need or the card readers that best fit their budget, it also allows them to select the specific functionality that suits their security policy.”

The industry has sensed the need for integration and interoperability, prompting organizations like PSIA and ONVIF to drive open standards, especially with Profile C and A as well as the PLAI Agent, which allows multiple brands to be used together in one system.

“It is rapidly reaching the stage where security providers that don't offer interoperability will struggle to maintain a market share when this has become so important to customers, specifiers, and installers,” Mike Sussman, Technical Director, TDSi said.

Future prosperity
Access control has become a vital, critical component in the security arena, offering protection for homes, companies, and premises as well as helping users raise productivity and achieve more efficient management. Advancements in technology as well as the ability to integrate, supported with open standards, have also benefitted users from different verticals. Prospects for this market look robust and rosy this year and the years to come.

2015 Access control: Simplify electronic access with wireless locks

2015 Access control: Simplify electronic access with wireless locks

Editor / Provider: William Pao, a&s International | Updated: 3/6/2015 | Article type: Hot Topics

While wireless locks aren't new, adoption is set to grow, especially in places where running wired access control is difficult or isn't even an option. “Dormitories and college campuses are good places for wireless locks,” Kotwicki, Northeast Regional Sales Manager, AMAG said. “For medicine cabinet in hospitals and things like that, I do see wireless technology continuing.”

Ease of installation and low cost are indeed two primary benefits of wireless locks. “Wireless locks are battery operated and only ‘wake up' when prompted by a digital credential. Wired doors need to be permanently connected to mains power, and that makes them expensive,” said Thomas Schulz, Marketing and Communications Manager for EMEA at Assa Abloy.

As for the home, wireless locks are also seeing increasing installations. According to IHS, CAGR for locks in smart homes will exceed 50% over the next five years.

“Early adopters are there already: We sell thousands of residential digital locks every month in Scandinavia, for example,” said Schulz. “And you only need to attend mainstream technology shows like the CES to see that consumer interest in digital ‘smart home' products is growing fast.”

However, for home usage to popularize, several issues still need to be addressed, especially with regard to the confidence of consumers who have long accepted mechanical locks and keys as the norm. “Are homeowners comfortable giving up the traditional brass lock and key, and do they have the confidence wireless locks provide at least the same levels of security?” asked von Franquemont, Product Marketing Manager, EMEA, Honeywell Security.

Lack of familiarity is another issue. “What happens if the home owner ignores the battery warning and it loses power — they can't then gain access. Access control will enter the domestic market but not for a few years until a number of these types of issues are resolved,” said Sussman, Technical Director, TDSi.

Currently, there are competing wireless lock standards in the industry. These include the Standard Offline Access Application created by Assa Abloy, Nedap, and others, as well as those that groups like the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA) are working on. “The majority of electronic hardware and software providers have expressed strong interest to establish standardization in order to ease the adoption of wireless locks and electronic access solutions in general,” said Aikin, Business Leader of Electronic Locks, Allegion.

Milestone Christian Ringler as Regional Director in EMEA

Milestone Christian Ringler as Regional Director in EMEA

Editor / Provider: Milestone Systems | Updated: 2/25/2015 | Article type: Security 50

Milestone Systems, the open platform company in IP video management software (VMS), announces Christian Ringler as the new Regional Sales Director for the DACH and SET territories in Europe. He is based in Munich, and reports to Milestone VP EMEA, Thomas Lausten.

“I am thrilled to be in a global company, and I am eager to experience the power surge of the Milestone partner ecosystem,” says Christian Ringler. “It is clear to me that success depends on partnerships and that open platform technology is the enabler here.”

Christian Ringler has held positions in G4S, Siemens, Panasonic and SeeTec, bringing a wealth of experience from within the physical security industry. He spent the last six years at SeeTec AG as Head of Sales and Country Manager for Germany.

“Christian’s strong experience and industry knowledge has already made him a key addition to the Milestone family. His appointment is a sign of our commitment to further accelerate and expand our business in EMEA. The ever-increasing demand from our customers led us to look for an addition to our team who will fit in with our ethos of innovation and partnerships, and it is very fortunate that we were able to find someone of Christian’s caliber to fulfill this role,” says Thomas Lausten, VP EMEA, Milestone Systems.

Surveying trends in the security integration market

Surveying trends in the security integration market

Editor / Provider: Scott Lindley, President, Farpointe Data, a&s International | Updated: 2/19/2015 | Article type: Hot Topics

In today's world, sophisticated security end users demand for higher levels of expertise and interoperability, forcing systems integrators to emphasize on seamless integration to provide users with optimal performance and automation.

It is evident that the majority of security installations are becoming more and more complex. No longer content to monitor and manage separate access control, fire alarm, video surveillance, intrusion, and HVAC control systems, corporate security and technology managers want to consolidate and integrate various disconnected security and facility management systems. At a dramatically increasing pace, the IT department is leading the initiative, particularly given the trend toward convergence of physical and logical security systems. End user customers are demanding that their integrator or dealer understand their business and their infrastructure. Security dealers and integrators must quickly decide whether or not they want to be part of this new security paradigm or slowly wither away, providing traditional stand-alone solutions. With every new advance in the installation marketplace, dealers and integrators must again and again decide whether to keep pace. Successful implementations require greater technical knowledge of systems than ever before along with products that work together more easily, while simultaneously providing better ease of use to end users.

Dealers and integrators who want to be positioned for continued success in this evolving marketplace need to choose not only the right products for any given installation, but align with manufacturing partners who will provide them with the best prospects for long-term success, manufacturers that heavily invest in both new scaleable technologies for their products and support programs for their channels.

A New Quid Pro Quo
It used to be that the dealer or integrator that sold the most widgets earned “most favored” status from its manufacturers. Having that status resulted in recognition, special perks, and discounted pricing for those who delivered. However, in a direct reflection of the new realities of today's security market, this simply isn't the case anymore. It is not that manufacturers no longer appreciate top sellers or want to avoid rewarding them. It is because forward-thinking manufacturers know that their dealers and integrators have to stay on top of the latest technology trends in order to stay competitive. These manufacturers want their dealers and integrators to succeed in a manner that will keep both the integrator and the manufacturer successful in the years to come.

Being Seamless is Essential
Reliance on proprietary technologies and platforms inhibits innovation, integration, and the assimilation of emerging technologies. Issues arising from proprietary technologies plague too many systems which is self-defeating for the security industry, and creates major problems for security dealers and integrators, hindering end users from having flexible, scalable security platforms that cost-effectively protect their people and assets.

We increasingly hear that a major trend that will permeate physical access control now and for the foreseeable future is the growing connection between physical security and IT security. Because of this, there is growing demand by organizations for migration of computer-based systems to a common software platform or to standards-based platforms that can be easily and seamlessly integrated. Leveraging technology breakthroughs and a need for increased security, companies will also more rapidly adapt smart cards, two-factor readers, biometrics, long-range wireless, and intelligent video into their overall systems.

Physical access control systems on an enterprise level are now described as much in IT terms as they are in access control terms. New command and control integration platforms are giving integrators a wider range of solutions to help end-users meet this challenge head-on while, at the same time, requiring the integrator to have higher levels of IT expertise.

Integration Equals Success
Today, the various components frequently used in the typical security system are not only disconnected, but from different manufacturers, complicating or making integration impossible. All too often, they employ incompatible hardware or proprietary, unsynchronized databases or completely inconsistent user interfaces that compete for space and attention. Such systems may be inefficient and need many people to manage them, and security personnel who have been forced to use them have been frustrated for some time but these systems will not pass muster with IT personnel.

However, there is a good reason for this — such systems increase employee and training costs, foster unnecessary equipment expense, have gaps causing security and safety breeches, and can produce downtime in mission-critical operations. Since IT budgets and management are responsible for many of these operations, they are beginning to dictate what will be used, particularly for physical access control systems.

Seamless integration means the physical access control department, as well as other groups in the enterprise, have the freedom to select different technology vendors, relying on the command and control platform to handle the integration. This extends to system hardware. Today, with one card reader, users can read the most popular 125 KHz proximity cards, including those from Farpointe, HID, and AWID. 13.56 MHz smart card readers can process contactless credentials based upon NXP Semiconductor's Mifare technology as well as based upon France's Inside Technologies. Such readers provide continuity throughout the organization, without having to eliminate legacy cards while additionally building a pathway to higher security applications in the future. Dealers and installers who want to be able to offer this type of powerful security platform to their customers must be willing to stay one step ahead of the technology.

Partnering for Success
Dealers and integrators must recognize and respond to these emerging trends if they want to remain competitive. That means partnering with companies that are also aware of where the market is going and are staying one step ahead of customer needs. Integrators need more than just equipment in today's market. At a minimum, they require training, technical support, sales and marketing expertise and, of course, innovative, forward-thinking products. Today's partnerships are based on helping both partners build their businesses and profits, not just selling more products.

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