Non-compliance is standard

September 2013 News

An interesting thing happened on the way to the September issue of Hi-Tech Security Solutions. We have a feature on standards, but we’ve ended up with many articles dealing with standards in different sections of the magazine.

In the section on standards we have articles on CCTV standards (of course), but also fire and the new release candidate for ONVIF’s access control standards that should make it easier to integrate surveillance and access. With these standards there should be no reason for non-compliance or proprietary lock-ins to a specific technology.

Of course that is a pipe dream. Proprietary has many benefits – primarily for the vendor and installer, seldom for the user. But we have a situation in the security industry where standards are a side issue. There is no enforcement and no consequences for companies using proprietary technology in supposedly standard hardware. Even when choosing, for example, cameras that conform to a standard, you are not always guaranteed to be able to add other cameras to the solution. There was recently a scenario where different IP cameras from the same vendor weren’t compatible.

This is not limited to the surveillance industry, however. It’s a common thread in the security industry that hardware, software and installations are not done according to standards. And it’s not always the much maligned 'Bakkie Brigade' that’s responsible for non-compliance.

We have an article on a recent PSIRA meeting in which the regulator is trying to find a way to regulate the electronic security industry. PSIRA is another non-compliance case in point.

I recently heard from the head of a large integrator that his company often loses business because competitors are not PSIRA registered and therefore don’t conform to the standards for labour that the regulator is supposed to enforce. The registered company must pay certain wages and contribute to each employee’s provident fund, is subject to PSIRA audits and must pay a fee for every employee working in security-related businesses (for a start).

These expenses naturally push up the company’s costs, meaning it can’t compete when non-compliant competitors without those expenses come in and undercut its quotes.

Just to rub it in, some of the non-compliant companies also cut corners in the installation process by ignoring issues such as health & safety, and using cheap hardware to boost their profits, again making it almost impossible for compliant companies who plan to be around to do maintenance and establish long-term relationships with their customers to get the job. The customer, of course, is the one who pays in the long run when its security installation underperforms and products break, but that doesn’t seem to be important in the business world.

This issue also touches on biometric standards, but that’s another topic which, as it happens, we will cover in the Access and Identity Management Handbook, which will be posted with the October issue of Hi-Tech Security Solutions. Don’t miss out.

As always, comments, criticisms, news and views are welcome. Drop me an e-mail at

Andrew Seldon



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