CCTV industry paradigm shift

June 2002 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

Over the last half-century security technology has gone through a gradual shift. The advent of the monitored intrusion alarm systems was thought to bring about the demise of the traditional night-watchman approach; however this was not so.

In fact, the man had to become more educated and move into the control room to monitor the computers that brought in these signals and dispatch the reaction teams to investigate these signals. This in turn hailed the advent and rapid growth of the armed response sector of the industry. As a result, the CCTV sector began gradually to bring further changes in the area of site monitoring predominantly on sites themselves, and in certain instances remotely via different transmission mediums.

Digital developments

Now, with the advent of technologies such as digital recording, IP video and related digital technological developments, one must now prepare for a quantum evolutionary leap that is busy changing the basic structure of the CCTV industry globally and here in Africa.

Market forces and technology advances are bringing about this change. At present, the phrase 'electronic security' encompasses three key areas of the industry namely - intrusion and fire alarm systems, access control and CCTV. Within the industry different companies and their people within would tend to specialise in certain of these areas, forming three distinct sections within the industry itself. It is in fact not unknown for end-users to use in some cases three different contractors to fit these systems to achieve an end result of one integrated solution.

This traditional market structure will, and is beginning to, disappear and be replaced by a new digital revolution combining the different manufacturer product platforms under one single supplier and single branding. Obviously a integrated solution is not by definition, a single product but it does not call for a major leap in one's imagination to accept that this principle of integration could if reversed, end the segregation of security products. The question to be asked is what the new order in the industry will look like?

Perhaps it could be as follows: the manufacturing arm starts to deliver one comprehensive end-product instead of three different specialised ones. The traditional specialist installer disappears, along with the old structure and classifications thereof insofar as their descriptions of the attributes of the new versatile product solutions. The information technology industry and its related cabling sectors merge with the new system integrator installer market to become one new force rolling out the digital security age.

Role of security manager

Another area of concern for some is that the role of the traditional security manager is changing and looking more like an IT manager's job description in many corporations around the world. Particularly, when one considers that the first step to upgrading any system is that one has to consider how much bandwidth is available before one even starts to talk about the kinds of hardware to go in these days.

The defining characteristic of this new industry will be that as the technology spreads rapidly into all the corners of the globe, the price of the technology drops. Another sector of the industry, which is going to be transformed and provide business opportunities for those who are prepared for it, will be in the area of guarding services and armed response services.

Digital technology will enable these players to provide a far more effective service to end-users transforming the capabilities of even the smallest guarding/response companies due to the full impact of digital visual communications being brought into this area by the increased use of digital video technologies for monitoring and managing of end-user sites from a remote control point.

Few practitioners in the physical guarding industry would argue that despite the advances made in areas of recruitment and training in recent times there is still the thorny issues of price competition limiting the potential to improve quality services.

An unfortunate reality of life is that quality is linked to profitability, an often-frustrating issue for many smaller guarding firms in a fiercely price-sensitive marketplace such as ours. Therefore, to achieve better profitability and at the same time have a unique selling proposition for the clients, one requires using digital technology to enhance ones service value added package to the end-users. In addition, there are cost savings realised in fuel and vehicle maintenance costs, through visual verification of alarm conditions and potential situations prior to dispatch of reaction teams to a site.

The overall result of this new technical ability could well become the catalyst to providing smaller guarding and response outfits with the means to increase their profitability. Reduce running costs and provide the end-users with compact, well qualified, well paid staff, providing a reliable value for money local security service.

For further details contact Gary van Staden, Sensor Security Technologies on tel: 011 452 1339, e-mail:

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