Security trends - what is in store in 2003?

February 2003 News

2002 saw the knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 and a proliferation of novel and sometimes quite extraordinary security applications. Security levels have dramatically increased with a resultant increase in security budgets, this in turn has seen an increase in companies attempting to get a larger share of the market place with a wide variety of products, some good and some not so good. Where will it lead in 2003?

Having just returned from a successful Intersec at Dubai's World Trade Centre, it is interesting to reflect on southern African security trends and those of the Middle Eastern countries. Security applications in the Middle East seem to be concentrating on basic on-site set-ups offering key camera recording to a recorder, basic access control, fire and building management systems. There are a number of companies focusing more on ROI (return on investment) and problem solving through management as opposed to providing the basic solutions above, and quite rightly they are securing market share.

What is apparent is the southern African market, through necessity, which is a good bit further down this road. Often in presentations the client bogs the meeting down with a particular facet that he/she feels is most important. Unfortunately, many of the issues identified have been taken from the latest James Bond movie or something similar, where a 100 m picture of a stick man is digitally enhanced to provide full facial recognition; even the birthmark below the right eye! Although there are digital enhancement tools becoming more and more available we still need to stick to the facts that facial identification is only practical where the captured picture is more than 60% of the image, so focal length is important or correct management of your PTZ cameras.

Management information system

With more and more DVRs becoming available, the confusion within the marketplace is going to grow. JPEG 2000, a variation of Wavelet compression, is a new buzzword; MPEG 4, MPEG 7 and even MPEG 21 are coming through. The real issue is what do you really want from the pictures you are capturing? Yes, we can all motion detect, off site monitor, playback, drive PTZs, and do a myriad of other things, but what is the client's ultimate aim?

I believe the major trend for 2003 is going to be towards managing the information. Today's managers do not have time to review all collated information. A standalone DVR is great for someone who has the time and requirement to review the information each day. However, for the person needing management reports as well as interfacing with access control, fire, building management and many other facets of 'security' the tools need to be interlinked and need to be accountable.

The trend within most security distribution companies is to interface each of their products to a central control type facility - it is mostly referred to as a management information system (MIS). Of course, in order to keep customers loyal to their products, software used is proprietary and not easily interfaced with our non-company solutions. This is great if you are able to find that a particular company's products are the leaders across the board, and able to supply your key requirements for DVR, access, fire, etc. Most of these companies are providing good solutions but what happens when the particular module you bought last year is replaced by a newer system next year? This has always been the issue within analog systems, and requires careful budgeting, as you have to throw away and replace.

However, with the exciting growth of so many new companies with new ideas, it is often better to keep one's options open. Some company's are looking to provide non-proprietary-based software where source codes are readily available and integration becomes a simpler route. This allows you to pick and choose the product that best suits your needs, allowing you regular upgrades and hardware changes as required at a fraction of the costs previously.

The total solution

After having been involved with a number of dealers and project managers discussing the various requirements of their clients, it is evident that the total solution should:

1. The solution needs to be affordable - therefore easily completed in phases.

2. The solution needs to be upgradeable - as newer technologies arrive.

3. The solution needs to be integrated - as newer solution modules are required.

4. The solution needs to solve the client's problems.

5. The solution needs to give him a clear return on investment - audited and accountable.

In conclusion, I believe that the over-riding trend for 2003 will be towards total management solutions. A number of key application solutions can be spread across a number of venues on a national or even international basis all linked through whatever communication means is best available.

Those same applications, talking to each other, linked through a common management system with full database, recording all keystrokes and transactions, allowing users to manage the operating procedures with a clear historical chain of events. This will ultimately give a solution not only to security but also to operations, management, production, human resources, accounts and any other party with a simple department specific report and an overall cost of event. I believe the trend for 2003 is the rise of management information systems to tie together all facets of one's security requirements.

For more information contact Niall Beazley, Vision Catcher, 011 465 6396.

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