The move to open platforms is well under way in almost every industry. And while proprietary technology is still the most profitable for vendors, most realise that they will need to allow other products to integrate with theirs and vice versa.
As noted in another article in the CCTV Handbook 2019, in the surveillance as well as the broader security and the IoT markets, there is a drive to create an industry-wide open platform that everyone will build on in future. These open platform plans are focused on adding value to customers and easy integration with the basic platform. However, we are not there yet.
The reality is that there are levels of openness and the ability to integrate products depends on the respective platform vendors as well as the engineering skills set of the systems integrator/installation service provider.
Explaining the realities of openness and integration today, Alvin Flaum, director of Veracitech, says the ability to integrate two products, whether surveillance or other security products, is not always a plug-and-play affair. Standard integrations are often created by vendors and included in a software licence, or licensed individually, but the word ‘standard’ is key in this scenario.
Vendors will address the market on a global scale, or according to the demands of their clients, which means they won’t cater for specific integrations, but rather the tasks that the majority want – developing ‘vanilla’ integrations. This is a natural process where they meet the biggest demand in the market and it applies to surveillance, access control and almost every industry out there.
Of course, if the customer decides to standardise on a single brand for all its needs, these integration tasks could be part of the complete solution. However, for customers that want a solution designed to their specifications, vendor lock-in is not an ideal situation.
If customers who opt for best-of-breed solutions want customised integration work for a specific requirement, they will have to rely on their integrators to develop the solutions for them (or get their own technical people to do it). And this is where the management platforms differentiate themselves.
The Babylon advantage
XMP-Babylon is a management and automation platform developed in Germany by Autec, of which Veracitech is one of the local OEMs. Flaum describes Babylon as an automation platform that allows for the management of numerous and diverse business processes across diverse industries. And while the system has the built-in ability to integrate with a range of surveillance products, as many other platforms do, its development environment makes it a good fit for more complex and function-rich integration solutions.
Specifically, Flaum explains that Babylon is architected as if it is a PLC (programmable logic controller). PLCs are used in industrial and manufacturing processes to reliably control the processes of the business and ensure that every input has a logical output.
Using the PLC analogy, Babylon allows users to connect any input with one or more outputs through its logic processes (which the code developers create). This makes it a powerful platform as almost anything can be integrated and managed using this approach – if you have the programming skills.
Babylon has standard integrations for surveillance brands such as Dallmeier and SiStore (Siemens), as well as a host of other brands in other markets such as access control terminals, phone and radio systems, fire alarms, parking systems, intrusion detection and more. These integrations are useful for customers, but Veracitech has been able to develop in-depth integrations for its customers which provide functionality not available anywhere else.
An example is the integration with the Avigilon surveillance system, where Veracitech has created a ‘Veracitech Babylon-Avigilon Soft Matrix’ feature, including fully integrated alarm and event video management, and the ability to use multiple Babylon workstation monitors on a video wall for video matrix switching. A single Veracitech Babylon workstation manages multiple displays and even remote displays on other workstations with, in theory, an unlimited number of monitors in the Veracitech Babylon-Avigilon Soft Matrix.
There are numerous other applications Veracitech has developed on the Babylon platform, from LPR-based access control, Traka Key and Locker Management, HSEC Certifications, to integrated solutions for X-ray scanning and more. Flaum notes that Babylon is not a plug-and-play system, however, it requires skilled engineers to implement successfully, but has a reputation for extreme reliability once installed.
Veracitech offers the design, installation, configuration and custom development and integration of multiple security and operational systems into the Babylon platform, which will allow clients to more efficiently manage their operations, even distributed operations, reliably from a central source. The company includes companies like Anglo Platinum, De Beers, Petra Diamonds, DTI, Transnet, Gemfields and others on its list of clients, including businesses in Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique.
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