SDM Magazine: Systems Integrator Group Security-Net Celebrates 25 Years

Security-Net Inc., a global provider of security system services, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Since its founding in 1993, Security-Net has been recognized as a top group of security systems integrators within the industry. Its members are regularly included in the SDM 100 Top Systems Integrators list.

“The idea for Security-Net originated during a manufacturer’s award trip when several security systems integrators expressed a desire to discuss common problems and business best practices with industry peers,” said Bill Savage, president of Security Control Systems of Houston and one of the four original founders of Security-Net. “A year later we had an organization formed.”

Over the past 25 years, Security-Net has evolved into an organization that now collaborates on national projects, helps its members stay up to date on the latest technology issues and trends and provides sales and project management training to its members. The group has also launched its own project management platform.

“We’re proud of how Security-Net has grown dynamically over the years,” said J. Matthew Ladd, a member of the Security-Net board of directors. “Within the past 10 years we’ve added numerous sub-committees, including Tech-Net, Ops-Net and Sales-Net, and provided member companies with access to programs to strengthen their sales and project management skills.”

Security-Net members regularly collaborate with other member companies on projects that expand beyond their geographic areas of business, providing customers with global security services through its network of security systems integrators. Security-Net’s membership base includes 21 members in a combined 50 offices in North America, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom and Europe.

Read the original article at SDM Magazine.

Systems Integrator Group Security-Net Celebrates 25 Years

Exton, Pa. – November 29, 2018 – Security-Net, Inc., a global provider of security system services, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year, a testament to the strength of the organization that today brings together the best independent security systems integrators to collaborate on enterprise-level projects, technology acumen and business practices.

Since its founding in 1993, Security-Net has been recognized as the top group of security systems integrators within the industry. Its members are regularly included in the SDM 100 Top Systems Integrators list, an annual listing of the top security systems integrators in North America, and the Security Systems News 20 Under 40, an annual award that recognizes the top up and coming security systems integrators.

“The idea for Security-Net originated during a manufacturer’s award trip when several security systems integrators expressed a desire to discuss common problems and business best practices with industry peers,” said Bill Savage, President of Security Control Systems of Houston and one of the four original founders of Security-Net. “A year later we had an organization formed.”

Over the past 25 years, Security-Net has evolved into an organization that now collaborates on national projects, helps its members stay up to date on the latest technology issues and trends, and provides sales and project management training to its members. The group has also launched its own project management platform.

“We’re proud of how Security-Net has grown dynamically over the years,” said J. Matthew Ladd, a member of the Security-Net Board of Directors. “Within the past 10 years we’ve added numerous sub-committees, including Tech-Net, Ops-Net and Sales-Net, and provided member companies with access to programs to strengthen their sales and project management skills.”

Today, Security-Net members regularly collaborate with other member companies on projects that expand beyond their geographic areas of business, providing customers with global security services through its network of security systems integrators. Security-Net’s membership based currently includes 21 members a combined 50 offices in North American, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom and Europe.

Chelsie Woods
Eclipse Media Group for Security-Net, Inc.
207-730-2396 (mobile)

The Top 3 Misconceptions About Cyber Security & Access Control

Plus advice from the experts on how best to tackle this ongoing issue.

by Karen Hodgson, SDM Magazine

If you don’t think cyber security is an issue today you are dead wrong. But even if you think you are on top of things, chances are you — or your customers — still harbor some misconceptions, particularly when it comes to access control systems.

According to Terry Gold, founder of D6 Research, a research and consulting company dedicated to cyber security and the physical security industry, there is still a lot the security industry gets wrong, particularly when it comes to understanding actual hackers and their motivations and methods. (See online exclusive, “Think Like a Hacker to Better Understand Cyber Security.”) But he has seen promising movement.

“D6 Research has been seeing a slow but progressive change in sentiment over the past couple of years,” he says. “I sense a movement where 2018 is the year of the security industry to reach consensus that it’s no longer acceptable to be dismissive of cyber security.”

It is a progression, agrees Bill Bozeman, CPP, president and CEO, PSA Security Network, Westminster, Colo. “Originally when we started on our soapbox, it was denial. Now we are past that stage, which is good…. Everyone became aware simultaneously that this is an issue and now it is in the action level. We have gone from denial to awareness to action. We are much better off now than two years ago.”

Despite this, there is still a perception in the security industry that access control is somehow a little less at risk — and that is just not true, say the experts.

“Access control is generally one portion of an organization’s comprehensive protection plan that incorporates additional pieces, such as fire, intrusion, video surveillance and video management, to name a few,” says Eric Widlitz, vice president, North America sales, Vanderbilt, Parsippany, N.J. “However, the safety of a business is only as strong as its weakest link.”

Let’s take a look at some of the top misconceptions, with some advice for each.

1. Access control is not as vulnerable as some of the other security systems

Many people have this impression, but while it may seem that way, it’s simply not the case.

Ryan Zatolokin, business development manager, senior technologist, Axis Communications Inc., Chelmsford, Mass., says in some ways access control systems can even be more vulnerable because video systems historically get changed out for newer models more frequently than access control systems. “It is a misconception that video is more at risk. All networked devices are at risk…. Not one is inherently more at risk than the other. The concerns with access control are the same as with video — those older systems that aren’t maintained. [But] there are legacy access control systems running today that may have a Windows 95 box actually controlling a board in the closet. That to me is scary.”

Legacy systems are very vulnerable, says Matt Barnette, president, Mercury Security, part of HID Global, Long Beach, Calif. “All of these panels are network devices so by default if you are installing it on the network you are potentially opening up a gateway for someone to hack in.”

Even that might not be enough, Gold cautions. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that cyber security is primarily about network security. This is only one aspect; there are many others not even related that can undermine everything. Even if a network is completely secure, once someone gets in, then what? Strategy needs to have depth in so many areas. Attackers know this.”

Derek Arcuri, product marketing manager, Genetec Inc., Montreal, agrees. “We hear people saying, ‘So what if someone hacks my IP connected lights or HVAC? They will make my lights turn off? Big deal.’ It is a big misconception that the technology in question is the only victim. In reality it is everything that is connected to that system. Think of the entire network in terms of every single server or edge device that comes in contact with that access control system.”

Access control has been an afterthought, but that is changing, says integrator Colin DePree, sales manager, Pro-Tec Design, Minnetonka, Minn. “We are a lot further along on cyber security from the video platform perspective, but now we are starting to see OSDP and cloud-based access platforms that are forcing us to understand cyber hygiene and having those conversations [on the access control side].”

2. It is mainly someone else’s problem.

Cyber security is not a one-stop problem/solution. “Both end users and integrators tend to think it is someone else’s problem,” Zatolokin says. “They might think IT is taking care of it, or the security department is taking care of it. Often there is just not enough communication around this.”

Sometimes it is a matter of not knowing what you don’t know, DePree says. “There can be a lack of urgency or knowledge of what we can do and how we can improve. Sometimes it is an over-reliance on the manufacturers, thinking it is their equipment so it is their responsibility. In reality it is all of our responsibility.”

DePree adds that the real problem is communication. “There is a partnership needed between the customer, the integrator and the manufacturer. If every single one is doing their part in cyber security, it can work. But if the manufacturer says they are doing their part yet they are not communicating or teaching or training the integrator on what they should be doing; or the integrator says they know about cyber and they put the best-rated access control system on, but don’t know what settings they should be using; or on the customer side they say they are just putting access control in and their network is secure, then all three think they are doing a good job, but in reality there has to be continuity and communication through all three of those layers. It has to be a cooperative effort.”

3.Cyber security is too complicated — or too simple.

Many security integrators are so overwhelmed by the issue of cyber security they truly don’t know where to start; while others see it as a problem that can be “fixed.” Although there is no doubt that the issue of cyber security is real and complex, there are always ways to tackle tough issues.

“Sometimes people want something that will solve all their problems,” Zatolokin says. They want some specific magical feature that will make that system secure or a magic box you can put on a network to make it secure.” He has also seen the opposite reaction.

“When I talk to IT background people it is a short, concise conversation. If not, it could be a sky-is-falling conversation. Every risk can be mitigated.”

Widlitz says, “With cyber security, you must act everyday. It is not something where you can say, ‘We’re safe; we’re secure; let’s forget about it.’”

Read the original article at SDM Magazine.

What Do Enterprise Customers Want?

And how can integrators give it to them?

by Karen Hodgson, SDM Magazine

Large, enterprise-scale end users are among the most complex in the security sphere. Beyond just sheer size — many span the country if not whole continents — their needs are different than smaller or even medium-sized businesses or enterprises.

When it comes to their security technology use, particularly the access control portion, often they are compared to large ships; they stay on course and don’t turn easily. For security integrators this can be frustrating. There are a lot of great new technology developments that could really help these customers with their issues, but getting end users to buy them has historically been difficult.

Things are starting to turn around, albeit slowly. But enterprise customers have a distinct set of challenges that security integrators and manufacturers need to be prepared to address.

What has changed? These customers are much more educated and aware of both what is out there and what they want to work toward, says Richard Goldsobel, vice president of Continental Access, Napco Security Technologies Inc., Amityville, N.Y. “Enterprise customers are much more aware than in years gone by on everything from Active Directory to integration of video. Years ago I spent so much of my time on education but I feel like now customers are asking us about topics.”

John Krumme, CPP, president and CEO, Cam-Dex Security Corp., Kansas City, Kan., says his company is seeing an increase in enterprise access control purchasing. “Most global customers are looking for ways to cut costs and standardize globally. We are working with several on a global standardization plan so their access and video management are the same throughout all their facilities. … They are leveraging their access control investment throughout their global network.”

Part of the drive for this standardization is the increasing need for enterprises to manage both risk and compliance, says Justin Wilmas, senior director of sales for North America, AMAG Technology, Torrance, Calif. “Enterprise customers are looking more at not just access control but rather how the solutions inside of their estate help them solve their challenges holistically from a security point of view.”

Going hand-in-hand with standardization is something that is now absolutely table stakes: open architecture. With the aging of proprietary systems from companies such as the now-defunct Casi Rusco, customers don’t want to be caught flat-footed again, says Derek Arcuri, product marketing manager, Genetec Inc., Montreal. “[Enterprise] customers are a lot more aware of what open architecture means. They say they don’t want to be in the same situation they were previously in with proprietary systems.”

Another reason for this is the increasing merging of physical security and IT departments, says Eric Widlitz, vice president, North American sales, Vanderbilt, Parsippany, N.J. “We’re seeing more influence from the IT side of things as a result of the increased focus on cyber security and hardening the network on which access control functions.”

Perhaps the biggest shift is the way enterprise customers look at access control and what it can do for them, says Hilding Arrehed, vice president, cloud services–physical access, HID Global, Austin, Texas. “It is no longer simply a mechanism for securing doors, data and other assets, but also provides the means to create trusted environments within which organizations can deliver valuable new user experiences.”


Large enterprises are under a lot of pressure these days. Whether from a desire for cost savings or complying with regulations such as the recently implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, there is a lot going on — and often access control is the least of it. However, those customers that understand or can be made to understand how their access control system can help them with some of these pressing issues are the ones most likely to invest in security upgrades.

“We are witnessing the collision of the enterprise with the Internet of Things (IoT), and organizations now must establish trust and validate the identity of people as well as things,” Arrehed says. “All this is happening against the backdrop of increasingly stringent safety and data privacy regulations.”

Steven Turney, security program manager, Schneider Electric, Dallas, says there are four big challenges he sees enterprise customers facing. “As I talk with customers and consultants we hear a revolving theme: budgets — though the economy has improved customers are still struggling to secure capital for expansion of systems and even internal labor; updates — updates are not being regularly deployed, which makes systems compatibility an issue; cyber security — today’s security and access control systems need connectivity, which introduces cyber security risks; and mobility. Today customers need connectivity while on the move through mobile applications.”

The problem, Turney adds, is today’s access control systems may exacerbate these challenges. “They are costly to update and maintain, limit mobility and have historically been deployed with a lack of consideration to cyber threats. That is why it is so important for customers to evaluate their specific challenges and look toward solutions that can address or mitigate those challenges.”

Before they can even begin addressing the more global challenges, one of the first steps — and one that many enterprise customers are in the midst of today — is the consolidation of systems.

“The biggest challenge today would be managing multiple systems,” says Adam Kinder, access control manager, Digital Monitoring Products (DMP), Springfield, Mo. “Users are very interested in converging multiple systems and technologies into one management system.”

This challenge has grown out of how the majority of enterprise organizations have evolved, Arcuri explains. “Maybe they outgrew their real estate or they took over a building and systems are not centralized. Systems can’t talk to each other and they have different operators for different buildings. They are weighed down by a silo.”

A Customer’s Perspective

Tim Chesney, maintenance supervisor for TVH Parts Co., Olathe, Kan., is an enterprise-level customer of Cam-Dex Security Corp. Chesney spoke with SDM about what he considers most important in an access control and integrated security system.

SDM: What are your biggest security needs related to access control?

Chesney: Our company is the world’s leading producer of after-market OEM quality materials like forklifts, bobcats, etc. Our biggest challenges are keeping tabs on people coming and going out of the building. Who is in the building and who is trying to gain access into different areas?

SDM: Are you making any changes or upgrades to your access control system currently?

Chesney: We are in the process of standardizing across the country and everything being put onto one platform. As these come online we are having Cam-Dex bring these sites up on the system. With our older sites we are in the process of working through the logistics of moving those to the platform.

SDM: What is the goal of doing this?

Chesney: It just makes it easier. We have salesmen that travel across the U.S. As of right now we have one facility up and our managers have to carry cards for that facility, the Olathe facility and the rest. Having them on one card will keep costs down.

Another advantage is compliance. Our biggest thing is customs. We can move product around the world a little bit easier with the government knowing that once we fill a container at our facility we know it was secure the whole time.

SDM: What is most important to you in a security integrator relationship?

Chesney: What we are looking for is if I call them we can have someone take care of an issue very quickly. There was one time that I had a family vacation in Florida. Our Miami facility needed to be locked down. I was able to dial into that system through VPN and lock the facility down. But if I didn’t have my computer I would be able to call Cam-Dex and they can do exact same thing.

It is not uncommon for large enterprise customers to have two, three or more access control platforms all operating in different locations — all taking different credentials, of course.

“Through the standardization process, and sometimes when these companies are acquiring other companies, along comes legacy security product,” Krumme explains. “Generally speaking the acquiring company already has a platform they have chosen to standardize on and the reason to make those changes tends to be for cost reduction and consolidation purposes.”

Tom Echols, president global accounts group, Security 101, West Palm Beach, Fla., adds, “Unfortunately a lot of these big companies have pretty significant investments in platforms. They have to be pretty dissatisfied to make a change. There are companies we work with that are a combination of several different acquisitions over the years. They didn’t have standards around security and they are looking to come up with a platform they can expand globally.”

But none of this happens quickly. Echols has a customer that has been working on this for eight years.

The length of time it takes is due largely to cost, he explains. “Nobody can write a check for $20 million to get on this one platform. I have these discussions whenever we engage with someone new. Often it starts with the credential itself. A lot of these companies are ‘Wild West’ when it comes to the cards that have been deployed globally. One of the first directions is to standardize on credentials.”

Eric Green, senior manager, enterprise access control, Honeywell, Melville, N.Y., says this anything goes credential philosophy is one of the first things companies today now want to address. “Typically enterprises want to have a one-card solution, which requires coordinating a lot of different things, so building out those types of practices is a big challenge for these customers. We have seen customers that mandate everything from the top down and others where every office makes their own rules. But we are seeing the Wild West fading away. They are starting to recognize the advantages to having everyone work in a similar manner.”

Access control systems in the enterprise have almost always grown over time, been connected with different systems, and integrated using the network. Only recently did anyone realize this could present problems when it comes to cyber security.

“There is a large threat of a cyberattack that can be conducted through an enterprise access control system,” Widlitz says.

“A lot of our customers are reaching out to us,” Arcuri says. “It used to be we talked about how secure are your controllers or readers and how often do you upgrade? These days we are finding a lot of end users doing lots of research online and coming to us with questions about specific encryption and how can we guarantee that our controllers are up to date.”

Echols agrees. “The thing we have seen in the last few years is the systems are getting more scrutiny from an IT perspective. They are asking ‘Are they good citizens of my IT world?’ We have been leveraging IT infrastructure for more than a decade, but really they just gave us a port and an address and were not paying as much attention. Now they are looking at components spread across the enterprise. This has become a much higher priority and they now have dedicated resources helping to make sure these things are not threats.”

The days of siloed departments within an enterprise facility are over, Wilmas adds. “A lot of times what is overlooked, especially from the integrator’s perspective, is the security department unfortunately doesn’t have all the funding so it requires buy-in from multiple stakeholders inside the organization. When you look at operational challenges, their customers are these other departments like legal and HR and IT. In order to serve them, they need better technology. Today a corporate vice president of security is not going to be the only entity moving forward with [security] technology or funding.”


While there are no shortage of challenges for the enterprise, both manufacturers and security integrators are stepping up to help enterprise customers overcome them — from easier upgrade paths, to unified solutions and more consultative selling.

“The enterprise customer is demanding more than just what an access control system can provide them in order to solve risk and compliance challenges,” Wilmas says. “That takes an auxiliary set of solutions that have to integrate and work seamlessly with the access system. There is a lot of talk today about unified security management.”

Unified systems let companies focus on just one system through a single pane of glass, Arcuri describes. “There are a majority of our enterprise customers moving over to our unified offering.”

The secret to getting them to do that, he adds, is making sure they understand the benefits. “We have to show them the pain of staying with what they have is greater than the pain of change. If we can get over the hump they can start to see those gains. We also have to show them the hump is not as big as it seems.”

Genetec tries to make things easier by having more open systems, as well as a partnership with Mercury, which is something several manufacturers are getting on board with to help with the upgrade process. “Their bridge strategy allows customers with proprietary systems to just replace the boards,” Arcuri explains. “This has opened up opportunities for companies that hadn’t considered upgrades because it isn’t a forklift change.”

Echols calls this type of change a lobotomy. “We work with customers on lobotomies where we take out the ‘brain’ of the access system and put in a new brain and manufacturers are making it easier to do that.”

Integrators are more involved than ever before in the details of planning for the future, Krumme believes. “I think that a number of our national or global customers are looking for assistance with plans and strategies on implementing standards and better understanding emerging technology,” he says. “We are doing a lot of consultative selling. It is not just about access control and securing your doorways. It is a complete, robust system.”

Bringing New Functionality to Multi-Supplier Access Control in an IoT World

In contrast to the video surveillance market, access control technology has historically been slow to change, in large part because of the high upfront costs to acquire and install a system and the longevity of the equipment — commonly between 12 and 20 years. End users and their need for open network-based infrastructures are driving recent changes in this market, as the line between physical security and IT continues to blur. Physical security systems are now often managed by IT departments and IT directors are rightfully demanding open architecture approaches (like IP networks) rather than the proprietary and sometimes duplicative design of traditional security systems.

The drive to an open architecture approach has proliferated across many related industries, and today we see lighting, HVAC and other functions residing on the network as well, offering businesses the option to minimize operating costs and to better control and monitor their facilities. This trend of hosting everything on an IP network clears a path for an Internet of Things, which in many respects is already here.

This approach has in turn driven the development of standards-based applications, and end users and systems integrators alike are recognizing the value of open standards, such as the interoperability standards created by ONVIF.

The open device driver used in ONVIF Profile A conformant access control panels allows end users to integrate control panels and management software from different manufacturers, facilitating interoperability for multi-vendor projects. This gives end users the ability to make choices on specific hardware for their access control systems and, even more importantly, means that if you want to install another supplier’s access control management software in the future, you won’t have to rip and replace existing access control hardware in order to do so. The common interoperability of ONVIF Profile A provides the bridge between the legacy hardware and new software if both are Profile A conformant.

The network can already transfer pieces of data from one system or device and correlate it with other data in analytics software programs, ultimately providing usable, actionable information to end users, aggregated from such systems as video, audio, intrusion, voice and others. Multiple network-based systems make things like intelligent building automation a reality, delivering cost savings, keeping people and assets safer and reducing energy requirements.

As one of the major platforms within a smart building environment, access control systems play a large role in this IoT scenario. When connected to other, seemingly disparate building systems using a common interface, this deeper interoperability enables increased productivity to the overall system. As a contributor to an intelligent building ecosystem, access control systems also serve as a repository of large amounts of data — tracking people’s movements for real time facility population data or facility usage based on the day’s meeting room booking schedule. The more data that is available within a system means the more quickly that adjustments can be made, further ensuring the security and efficiency of the building.

When enabled with artificial intelligence, access control and other building systems can begin to recognize patterns, anticipate events and behaviors, and make proactive changes to the building environment, enabling its occupants to work more efficiently. AI allows for systems to be smarter, more effective and provide additional cost savings by further reducing the administrative burden of the system.

With so much data being fed into these management platforms, from AI technology or other more traditional sensors, a stumbling block to true interoperability still remains. To effectively be able to harvest actionable information out of the received data, it has to be readable in a common format. Data readable in only one proprietary ecosystem will jeopardize the idea of interchangeable information, and further reinforce the silos that exist between the largest providers. Profile A could offer a solution for this in the future, by providing users with that common interface, and allow the market to continue to grow through interoperability and innovation.

Enterprise customers are more willing to at least discuss, and sometimes plan for the adoption of some of the newer technologies, particularly cloud and mobile.

“More and more enterprise businesses are comfortable with adopting hosted services,” Arcuri says.

Wilmas agrees. “There is a big value to hosted solutions. If a security department is looking to make an investment and it will sit on the network, they have to work with IT. IT sees security as a customer and will ultimately bill them internally inside the corporate estate. A lot of organizations are looking at cloud-hosted solutions because when they invest in that it is a capital expenditure. With cloud you are looking at operational expenditure that is subscription-based and very little IT infrastructure is required. The value proposition is stronger.”

Even though there is an appetite, there is little movement, Krumme says. “Cloud-based systems are one of the most discussed topics we hear. But even though cloud is extremely popular it has been somewhat slow to be implemented. … That’s not to say it won’t happen. With enough conversation we think it will.”

It depends on your definition of cloud whether the enterprise is adopting it, however, Echols says. “Most of our enterprise customers have gone away from the traditional client/server architecture and basically have an internal cloud. They want less brick and mortar and fewer data centers. Their policy is if they can buy the software as a service that is their first choice. Second they will use someone’s server like Amazon, and third they will host it themselves. It makes it easier to upgrade because they don’t have to worry about how to get 800 desktops upgraded.”

Mobile is another ongoing conversation, he says. “Mobile credentials are extremely popular. It is great at attention-getting, but we have been pretty slow to implement.”

It will happen, predicts Scott Lindley, general manager, Farpointe Data, Sunnyvale, Calif. “Security professionals creating access control systems need to be aware that 95-plus percent of adults 18 to 44 years own smartphones. That means every smartphone user, or almost everybody, could now easily download an access control credential. No longer will people need various physical credentials to move throughout a facility.”

For enterprise customers particularly, this could have huge benefits as they struggle to standardize on a single credential. For now, most are approaching it in the getting-ready phase, Arrehed says. “We continue to the move to mass adoption of mobile credentials as major enterprises worldwide prepare by ensuring their access control infrastructures are mobile-ready.”

One of the biggest challenges with enterprise customers is helping them keep current with technology, while slowly upgrading them over time. For some this is easier than for others, Krumme says. “We have a project we are working right now where the customer is saying, ‘We are going to put this particular product in because we have it in [other] facilities.’ We tell them, ‘This technology is 10 to 15 years old. What if you used a different platform with more cyber-protection and over time start phasing that into other buildings, instead of installing older technology just because it talks to what you currently have?’”

Krumme says that is a discussion his team has with customers frequently, but thankfully they more frequently understand the benefits of newer technology. “Sometimes the newer technology is even less expensive than some of the older, just not compatible. But more are willing to listen and look at this and make the case to executive management.”

Read the original article at SDM Magazine.

Mass Transit Security Evolves With Modern Security Solutions

by J. Matthew Ladd

As anyone who has ever flown on a commercial airline since 2001 knows, security measures at airports are well enforced and the emphasis on traveler safety is all around the airport and its grounds.

Mass transportation, meanwhile, presents a special but not any less significant challenge when it comes to determining security issues. These facilities need to develop the means to protect a constantly changing and large population of passengers. And unlike airports these facilities often have hundreds of points of entry and exit on multiple modes—buses, subways, light rail, commuter trains, even ferries.

About 2 million Americans will use the nation’s airways on a given work day, while 35 million people will board some form of public transportation. In fact, statistics have shown that nearly 11 billion trips are taken on public transportation every year. In some large metropolitan areas in North America where mass transit is well established, more than 20 percent of the area’s inhabitants get around via public transportation.

Solving Mass Transit Security

For transportation officials and their security providers, solving the mass transit security issue begins with determining the key concerns and then creating the proper responses via security systems, policies and procedures to mitigate the risks.

Although vandalism and graffiti are very visible signs of criminal behaviour in mass transit settings such as bus stops and subway stations, this is not where transportation officials typically focus their energy. Fences and gates can secure out-of-service buses and train cars, as can remote surveillance methods to keep such vandalism at a minimum.

Instead, it is the day-to-day safety and security of transit riders and employees that should become the highest priority. This begins with creating the safest environment possible that is highlighted with appropriate signage and, when necessary, audible warnings, and supporting that with technology, such as surveillance cameras, that will document what has happened if an incident occurs.Analytics can also be useful in alerting security about other suspicious behaviours at a transit stop, such as an untended bag or package.

Crime Prevention In Transportation

Incidents of concern within a transit setting can take several forms, ranging from legitimate accidents or crimes to false claims such as faked fall down the stairs to potential and actual suicides. Bus and subway stations also have become magnets for homeless people who may put themselves and others in harm’s way by trying to access less secure public areas within a station as temporary shelters.

If someone is injured on a subway platform and the transit provider is held liable, it could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. Suicides are a major concern for operators, with personnel now being trained to look for individuals who seem distressed, are loitering in the area or are intentionally putting themselves in a dangerous situation, such as standing too close to the edge of a platform.

The deployment of video analytics, which can be programmed to send alerts when certain pre-set actions occur, can help determine when such dangerous behaviours come into play. Analytics can also be useful in alerting security about other suspicious behaviours at a transit stop, such as an untended bag or package or a person going into a restricted area.

Whether it is on the bus, train or ferry or at the stops themselves, cameras and intuitive video management systems are the key to both active and forensic transit security.

Train Security And Safety

By using the proper cameras and recording systems in a transit environment, quick-acting personnel can locate a person of interest who boarded a train at one station, follow him during his trip and produce a crisp, clear identifiable image at the end. Those setting up the system thus should keep in mind proper camera positioning, resolution and motion-based changes to framerates or other compression settings.

A typical 30-foot bus often has six cameras—one each at the front and middle doors, two more within the bus and then one looking forward and another looking behind the bus. The latter two are important in the event of accidents to verify liability. Some cities use buses that are up to 60 feet long and those can be equipped with up to a dozen cameras.

Train cars are similarly equipped with two to four cameras to view activity down the centre aisle. Within the stations themselves, there can be from 15 to 30 or more cameras capturing wide-angle shots. Train stations, which have a restricted point of egress, often deploy high-definition cameras to better support facial recognition software to get that actionable image.

Installing The Right Technology For The Solution

Although bandwidth and storage can be a concern, with motion-based recording, the resolution can be bumped up during event, resulting in a 1-megapixel stream jumping to 4 or even 8mbps when needed. By changing the resolution on demand, end users can cut their storage needs significantly.

Transportation settings often rely on the same technology used in other security installations, primarily mini dome cameras, although there are some mini transit domes built specifically for the environment with the proper aesthetics. Because of vandalism threats, transit typically avoids pendant mounts, which can be more easily grabbed and damaged. Temperature ratings for cameras also come into play in cold climates with cameras often getting outdoor exposure.

As trains and buses move along their routes, especially those that service outlying areas, Internet connectivity becomes an issue as well. Because it may be difficult for video to be sent in transit, security bus barns are equipped with Wi-Fi so video from onboard cameras can be downloaded at the end of the day. And the use of hardened recorders at the stations allows security personnel to retrieve recorded video.

Transit Security With Modern Technology

Today’s new buses and trains are constructed with the cameras onboard and newer stations also take security into consideration at the earliest design stage. Older infrastructure from long-standing subway and bus terminals can prove to be a challenge when adding security, but these issues aren’t insurmountable.

Often the solution is to add more cameras to cover the same square footage because of less-than-ideal sight lines and to place conduit wherever it works best, which may mean positioning it under platforms or in other out-of-the-way places within older stations.

Looking ahead, transit security will continue to evolve, not only as new stations and modes of transportation are added to the system, but in terms of communicating with commuters. People can expect to get mass notification alerts on their mobile devices, and those same devices can provide vital data to transportation entities to better develop their overall systems.

This article originally appeared at Security Informed.

STATE OF THE MARKET: Security & Monitoring

Technology changes, major shifts in the market and evolving customer expectations bring a wealth of opportunity — along with challenges — to both the commercial and residential markets.

By Karyn Hodgson, SDM Managing Editor

2017 was a good year for the economy. The housing bubble has almost entirely recovered; the stock market saw record gains; and new construction was on the rise. In November, single family home building surged to a 10-year high, according to the Commerce Department, while ConstructConnect reports commercial construction enjoyed modest gains. All of these elements are highly favorable to the security industry — and manufacturers, dealers and integrators definitely felt the positive impact of these trends.

However, for dealers and integrators, the divide between a good year and a great one was largely dependent on several factors: what part of the market they sit in; how prepared they were to move quickly toward new technology and business models; how much pressure they felt from competition; and other factors, such as changing RMR models, the cloud, new monitoring trends and more.

“Both on the residential and commercial side, the way we think of dealers will change within the next two to five years,” believes Joey Rao-Russell, president & CEO of Kimberlite Corp., a Sonitrol franchise. “We had another stellar year for growth,” reports Daniel Herscovici, senior vice president and general manager for Xfinity Home, a business unit of Comcast, Philadelphia. “We are happy with the direction of business and the momentum in this industry.”

Many saw a tailwind effect from the strong advertising that companies such as Comcast, ADT and others have been pushing into the market. “Our alarm business has continued to grow,” says J. Matthew Ladd, president, The Protection Bureau, Exton, Pa., a Security-Net integrator. “A lot of that is the way technology is becoming more user friendly and also the advertising done by some nationals that get clients interested in products and services.”

Integrators that have a mix of residential and commercial security work point to connected technology advancements and upgrades as the biggest driver on the residential side, while commercially there is a continuing trend toward both integration and security as a service offerings.

“Commercially we probably grew about 15-20 percent,” says Chris Wetzel, executive vice president and founder, Intertech CI, Pittsburgh, another Security-Net integrator who has both residential and commercial clients. “We probably saw an increase in residential of about 30 percent. “Those numbers would reflect automation and some of the other things we do in the residential market.”

Howard Fischman, president and owner, Knight-Watch Security Systems Inc., Middletown, N.Y., does about 60/40 commercial/residential. “Our numbers increased by 25 percent last year overall,” he says. “This year the first month’s projections are over 20 percent. We haven’t seen a downturn. From my perspective things have bounced back. Then again, we are into so many different systems we were able to meander the course.”

Joey Rao-Russell, president & CEO of Fresno, Calif.-based Kimberlite Corp. (featured on this month’s cover) describes 2017 as “a balanced year.” Kimberlite is an employee-owned independent Sonitrol franchise, with 94 percent of its business coming from commercial. “We had strong sales, but we also had some things that affected attrition as well, such as compression in the marketplace.”

One trend Rao-Russell notes is on the upswing is the movement of residential dealers coming into the small commercial space, driven both by competition and pricing pressure from MSOs and DIY players, as well as small commercial owners looking for the same connected and interactive services they now enjoy at home.

Research firm Parks Associates, Dallas, says the security industry overall experienced “modest growth” in 2017. “Parks Associates estimates that the percentage of U.S. broadband households with a security system grew less than 1 percent from the year prior — 27.1 percent in 2016 to 27.7 percent in 2017,” says Dina Abdelrazik, research analyst. However, the good news is this translates to an additional 1.3 million broadband households with security, and the bulk of the figure is attributed to professionally monitored security.

From the central station monitoring perspective, business was booming in 2017, says Sharon Elder, vice president of sales, National Monitoring Center Inc., Lake Forest, Calif. “The opportunities that presented themselves in 2017 were really amazing in opening up the market space for our dealers to be able to operate in. It provided us with this great opportunity to bring them new services that could increase their RMR, attachment rates and reduce attrition.”

Michael Marks, co-founder, Perennial Software, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, notes a similar experience. “2017 was a great year for the alarm monitoring industry. We saw significant growth throughout our customer base, large, mid-size and small security companies. The industry has been on a great run the past seven years, and 2017 was another great year.”

From manufacturers to security dealers and integrators and central stations, virtually everyone interviewed for this article had a good to great year, which is mirrored by the outlook of respondents to SDM’s annual survey. The 2018 Industry Forecast Study, conducted in November 2017, found that, looking at current sales in the intrusion alarm category, the number of respondents categorizing current sales as “very good/excellent” rose sharply from 30 percent to 45 percent, and overall good to excellent rose to 81 percent from 77 percent last year. (See chart, page 61.) The monitoring category saw a similar trend, with those describing it as good to excellent at 84 percent, versus 73 percent last year.

Even more are hopeful for 2018, with 86 percent predicting good to excellent sales in monitoring and 88 percent expecting the same for intrusion alarms. Read on to learn some of the trends, technologies and reasons for this optimism in the residential, commercial and monitoring spaces.


There is no doubt that some of the biggest changes in the security market are happening on the residential end. From the explosion in connected services and IoT, to an influx of new entrants into the market — including DIY and MSOs — there is a lot going on.

Parks Associates estimates that 76 percent of new, professionally monitored security systems had interactive services in 2017. “A number of market developments and trends are impacting the security industry,” Abdelrazik says. “Traditional security providers are facing increased competition from point solutions such as the all-in-one cameras. While the emergence of smart home products extends the value of a security system, it also increases competition, as smart devices are often sold independently of a traditional security system. Many are selfinstallable.”

With all the new options out there, expensive monitoring fees, long-term contracts and the “traditional” way of selling an alarm system can be an uphill battle. In fact, fewer SDM Industry Forecast respondents reported that their RMR went up last year. Although still a healthy majority at 72 percent reporting an increase, 83 percent last year reported an increase, and the percent reporting a decrease doubled from 7 percent to 14 percent.

Those professional security dealers doing the best in this space are either the large, nationally recognized names, the new entrants, or dealers who have taken the “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em” approach to business.

“To push the needle beyond current market adoption, alternate approaches such as ad-hoc monitoring, self-install no-contract solutions and customizable solutions will need to be embraced,” Abdelrazik says.

Most of the growth in the residential intrusion market has come primarily from interactive services in recent years, says Steven E. Paley, president and CEO, Rapid Security Solutions LLC, Sarasota, Fla. “Before the development of a lot of these technologies, intrusion was probably the biggest thing. Dealers vigorously went after intrusion because of the monitoring associated with it and the RMR. … Now any person with a smartphone wants a system and to be able to manage it on the phone. It is a big driver.”

This is a reflection of what is happening in the residential market: security is becoming one piece of the larger home automation drive — instead of leading with security, many dealers have to start out with the connected, IoT features and try to sell security. “We sell the sizzle now, not just the alarm,” Ladd says. “We are selling an integrated automation system to control lights, locks, temperature. We don’t walk in and give a keypad demo anymore. The demo is the phone or iPad. You have to grow with the times. You can’t do it the old-fashioned way.”

Manufacturers are doing their part to help dealers do just that, offering more and more connected products, and even starting to help out with the DIY approach.

“We will be introducing a more mass residential alarm panel that will be ultra-easy to install and very cost effective,” says Jorge Hevia, senior vice president of sales and marketing, NAPCO Security Technologies, Amityville, N.Y. “The challenge right now for most dealers competing against DIY is they may be highly leveraged because they have to invest in equipment. We are trying to launch something cost
effective that enables them to ease that burden.” While the product can also be self-installed it will be professionally monitored, keeping the RMR for the dealer, Hevia explains.

Another new approach dealers are finding helpful in competing in this market is by becoming “residential integrators” themselves. “Many DIY security systems and products continue to be available direct to the consumer. There is an opportunity here for dealers to show their customers the value they can provide by integrating these systems professionally,” says Keith Daum, director, product marketing, Anixter, Glenview, Ill.

“The residential side is starting to grow large for us because we are doing the integration,” Fischman says. “I actually see more shift toward home automation/ smart homes. We are putting money into training for that, getting product in. The area I see the most growth in is home control, sound and home automation.”

Alice DeBiasio, vice president and general manager of residential security Americas, Honeywell Home and Building Technologies, Melville, N.Y., predicts that the rapid changes in the market aren’t going to slow down anytime soon. “With low-cost providers entering the market, we may see more commoditization of security,” she says.

For traditional residential security dealers, the shifting sands have sometimes felt more like quicksand, but more and more, the market is shaking out to separate those who are thriving on these changes, those who have made the decision to close up shop or be acquired, and those that see the more traditional small commercial space as a better fit for them.


While not nearly as volatile as the changes on the residential side, commercial security and monitoring has been going through a slow sea change of its own in recent years. Integration is nothing new, but what has changed is the way it is accomplished, and the opportunities that presents — particularly for integrators that operate in the SMB space.

“It is not brand new, but one of the biggest impacts I have seen has been the ability to take your basic access control systems and implement alarm monitoring through the system with some form of integration,” Ladd says. “I have seen a tremendous amount of improved integration on the manufacturer end. Everything is IP, and now you have the capability to send certain alarms out to a central station but also utilize the two-way capabilities of the burg panel.”

Integrating technologies enhances the prospect of predicting and preventing life safety and security events, says Steve Schmidt, program manager, UL, Northbrook, Ill. “There are a host of new market entrants focused on this integration, and it will become a disruptive force.”

The trend of residential dealers coming into the small commercial space is not lost on manufacturers, either. NAPCO has just launched a business version of its Starlink Connect, Hevia says. “The typical residential consumer is realizing they can do everything we can do, for free. Where we think there is a higher potential for RMR for dealers is in commercial. “A small business owner may be willing to pay $100 a month because it saves them a lot more than that. We can monitor a restaurant’s refrigerators to make sure they don’t lose thousands of dollars’ worth of food, or take video of the back door because businesses lose inventory that way. There are millions of small businesses across this country who are multiple-unit singular owners, and we think this is something that has a lot of value.”

And they are paying attention. Technology advancements like these are making things easier and a little less intimidating for a residential dealer to start contemplating the commercial market.

“It makes sense that they would get into small commercial,” Paley says. “A lot of these guys started 40 years ago as a family business and built up a nice RMR base. Now the pace of business and competitors are such that you aren’t going to go out and roll out RMR like you used to. Dealers who aren’t ready to sell out need to find other ways of doing things. Almost any solution today that you can provide can generate an RMR opportunity if you put your head around it.”

There has also been a shift in expectations on the commercial side, she adds. “They are more interested in user interfaces, in what we can provide, not only in security but also security as a service, help with human capital, etc. They are looking for more well-rounded services, not just a door sensor anymore.”

Rao-Russell cites the example of a Subway restaurant customer that has teenage employees working after hours. “They have a camera that sends a push notification to the owner whenever those back doors are open during the day so he can see if the employees are hiding in the back and not working,” she says. After-hours the camera serves as verification if there is a break-in. “Customers want these interactive services that help them manage their business as well as their security.”

Energy consumption is another driver on the commercial side, Fischman says. “If you can help them cut their bills down, that is what they want to hear. If you can show they are saving money in the long run, they are more open and willing to spend money on it now.”

Something as simple as monitoring the lights to make sure an employee doesn’t leave and forget to turn them off overnight can make a big difference, he says. Another trend affecting the commercial market, not just for dealers but for integrators as well, is the cloud, or security as a service (SaaS) model. “More and more people do not want to manage things for themselves,” Rao-Russell says. “Their IT people are doing too much already. This is the greatest opportunity as an industry that we have right now. There are lower installation costs on technology such as access control with a cloud-based service attached. It is a win-win all the way around.”

Almost the polar opposite of the DIY trend on the residential side, small commercial is much more interested in “do it for me,” Paley adds. “What our clients are really looking for is they want to outsource all this crap. They don’t want a piece of hardware or software; they just want to know someone is
managing it for them.”

And what is pulling all these service-oriented offerings together — both on the SaaS commercial and the connected residential — is the ability of central stations to deliver on these promises.


An increase in sensors, IoT devices and other things that provide monitoring opportunities is a vital part of the growth in the security industry. A recent report by Frost & Sullivan found that IoT is bringing about a “new era of connectivity” in both business and residential markets. The total sensors market in security and surveillance applications was worth $6.3 billion in 2016, the report states. That market is expected to nearly double to $12 billion by 2023.

Analyst Ram Ravi further notes in a press release, “Cloud networking, a revolutionary two-way interactive service delivery platform, is expected to create a technological explosion in the homes and buildings services market. This will enable [dealers and integrators] to adopt new business models to provide attractive cloud-based services through a secured network.”

Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Bold Technologies is already seeing the effects of this trend, says Rod Coles, CEO. “From our perspective the industry performed very well and grew from 2016 to 2017. A lot of people were more inclined to look at new products and contemplate or make a switch from on-premises to cloud solutions. For us personally, the last two quarters we experienced some of our best growth. Over 70 percent of our sales in the last quarter were cloud sales, up from 25 percent during the same time last year.”

SDM Forecast respondents reported that 43 percent currently offer cloud-based video surveillance as a service, while a third offer cloud-based access control as a service. Fifty percent offer managed access control (up from 41 percent last year). Remote video monitoring topped the list at 66 percent, a trend noted by both third-party and dealerowned central stations as well.

“Video monitoring services are growing at a faster rate than traditional monitoring services,” says Paul Garms, director of regional marketing – intrusion, Bosch Security Systems Inc., Fairport, NY. “Video analytics built into the IP camera have made video monitoring services a far more appealing option today than a few years ago. By adding further analytics in the cloud, monitoring centers are now able to deploy a more practical and affordable solution.”

This trend really opened up in 2017, Elder says. “Up until this point the challenge has been, ‘I have an Avigilon camera in the field and it is not integrated with anyone.’ In 2017 those channels opened up hugely between I-View Now and SureView. That channel takes away that problem. Both residentially and commercially … as a central station, for the first time I can really say, ‘Whatever you need in video I can totally deliver that.’”

Technology trends such as these do present some challenges, particularly for smaller, independent dealer-owned central stations. Video monitoring in particular is a whole different skillset, Paley says. For many dealers, the choice is to invest heavily in upgrading their own station, or look to third-party options that have the resources they lack.

“Today, companies that were doing their monitoring in-house are losing the ability to offer any type of video services, area of refuge, personal emergency services or all these other things that endear you to your client,” Elder says. “They need to work with a solid third-party central station in order to keep that engineering and automation at such a high level that they can compete with the ADTs of the world.”

Intertech’s Chris Wetzel is one that made this decision. “For many years we had our own central station that we maintained,” he says. “We made the decision to move those services to a third party and take advantage of a lot of what they are providing in the way of additional services and automation. It has made it easier for us to grow.”

Elder describes monitoring as a vital relationship between the dealer and the central station. “There is a tremendous amount of value and responsibility on both sides. We touch that consumer so frequently, much more than the alarm company will ever do.”

Matthew Brandon, national sales manager, Avant- Guard, Ogden, Utah, is very optimistic about the future of third-party central stations. “Being in a position to say that you can monitor virtually anything that can send us a signal is the biggest opportunity for us. From GPS tracking devices to drone technology, we have the resources and technology to grow in many different directions.”

Other dealer-owned stations are boosting their own capabilities, despite some challenges. “We are moving our receivers more to the cloud instead of the conventional rack-mounted,” Ladd reports. “This provides higher security, better communication and more enhancements to our clients.”

Rao-Russell says her company feels the pressure on the monitoring side, despite all the new technologies and services they are able to offer. “We used to just buy phone lines, a couple of stations, computers and automation software. That was an investment for 10 years. Now I have an employee in my office that just keeps track of pass-through services like AlarmNet, interactive services and third-party cloud services. The business model has definitely changed and we have to be adaptable to that.”

She says this has led to some compression on the monitoring side. “We used to get $70-$80 on monitoring. Now we can still get that but with full total connection. Even though you are still getting the same amount, it is costing more to provide that. The margin is compressing.”

Still, Rao Russell is very positive about the changes in monitoring overall. “The monitoring side is where the growth is coming from. If you look at the last five years we have had material growth in RMR. We don’t have customers accepting a 20 percent increase per year, but they are buying cloud access or camera monitoring.”

Don Young, CIO of Boca Raton, Fla.-based ADT (SDM’s 2017 Dealer of the Year) and vice president of The Monitoring Association board of directors, agrees. “As more organizations continue migrating to IP-based technologies, we feel that monitoring of non-traditional systems such as access control, video and networks will account for expanded growth.” ADT recently rolled out a cyber security monitoring offering, which is another up-and-coming trend to watch.

New entrants are also a disruptive force, Parks Associates’ Abdelrazik says. “Expensive monitoring fees and long-term contracts are cost barriers to the average consumer. Low-cost monitoring solutions such as Ring Alarm are coming to disrupt the monitoring market with $10 per month monitoring and no long-term contracts. [These types of solutions] may contribute to growth by expanding the market from the bottom by addressing price sensitivity.”

Another monitoring trend the industry is starting to grapple with that may be a factor going forward is the concept of “monitoring on demand” in the residential space. This allows a customer that wouldn’t normally be a monitored account to choose when they want monitoring — for a two-week vacation, for example — and provides a more flexible model for the consumer. However, many central stations and dealers are resistant to this idea.

It is starting to germinate, however, says Michael Chiavacci, general manager, Interlogix, Lincolnton, N.C. “Two years ago you never heard of monitoring on demand being offered. But you are hearing about it now as end users want their homes monitored while they’re on vacation or away for business. Dealers willing to supplement their traditional product offerings with some type of monitor-it-yourself or monitoring-on-demand service are likely to see an increase in this business.”


At all levels of the market, from manufacturer to dealer, integrator and central station, the outlook for 2018 remains positive. “We’re optimistic about 2018,” Chiavacci says. “The economy is healthy, construction and housing starts continue their upward trend. The security industry is also expected to realize continued growth, which leads us to believe more homeowners will adopt security and smart home systems this year.”

Elder expects a continued high level of security spending in 2018. “We see the demand the country is making for video to protect infrastructure; we see law enforcement stretched so far they are mandating video verification. The amount of dollars spent in 2018 will be unprecedented like I have never seen in my career. As a central station I have positioned my company to be on the front end of that so we can provide an outstanding level of experience, whether it is a high level government client or grandma hitting that PERS button.”

Things are changing, Rao-Russell says, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. “If you were good at it, it shouldn’t change what you are doing, only the way you are presenting it. Things are becoming more and more consultative. The days of someone taking your word for it because you have a security logo are over. You have to show and provide value.”

One other thing the industry has going for it, Rao-Russell says, is its collective attitude. “I am more optimistic. There has been a lot of innovation this year and a lot of acceptance within the industry of things like SaaS and video verification and new and different models. We are no longer using the ostrich method where we have our head in the sand. We have an industry of maverick entrepreneurs who have built these amazing family businesses. As I am seeing attitudes change and openness to new ideas and new services, I feel as an industry we are much stronger.”

Access Control: Advice About Top Verticals

Security integrators share which vertical markets are producing access control work for them and why, plus tips on working effectively with these clients.

by Karen Hodgson, SDM Magazine

The vertical markets that security integrators work in can vary widely. Some integrators choose to focus on a few, often highly specialized types of customer; while others work with almost any vertical, but may narrow their focus by vendor or types of technology they specialize in. Regardless of which approach you take, there are lessons to be learned from some of the trends integrators are seeing and the technologies they are employing in their top verticals.

For example, Joe Liguori, partner, Access Control Technologies Inc., Clifton, N.J., says finance/banking has been a long-term stable vertical for his company. Healthcare, however, has emerged in recent years and is growing by “leaps and bounds,” he describes. “There have been a lot of acquisitions and consolidation in that space. A lot of hospitals we present to today are gigantic, whereas four or five years ago they were just large.” Liguori also points to higher education as the third in his “top three” verticals list.

Healthcare (government-based) and education also feature in the list for Minneapolis-based LVC Companies, says Keith Kranz, sales manager. “Within the last five years we have seen more of the government sector than in the past,” he says. “It is an increasingly bigger percentage of our work as regulations are being required more and more.” Commercial or corporate is another prominent vertical for LVC.

Care Security Systems, New York, also puts healthcare in their top three, along with enterprise-level critical infrastructure and global manufacturing, according to CEO Renee Schwab. “Critical infrastructure demands a very high standard — there is absolutely no room for mistakes,” she says.

SDM spoke with these three prominent security integrators to get further input on trends, drivers and technology in access control, as well as advice for others.

SDM: What is motivating your top vertical market customers to purchase or upgrade their access control right now?

Liguori: Banking and finance corporate customers are highly motivated by regulatory compliance, and protection of large corporate premises and intellectual property. There has been a shift from physical to cyber and intellectual access control. There is a lot of corporate exposure with large buildings and more concern about access to those buildings.

Healthcare is a little bit different. Healthcare is driven by HIPAA and those regulations. There is significant concern with controlling the outside population, especially in terms of angry patients or visitors.

Higher education is most concerned about their students and mobility. Their biggest thing is active shooters and how they lock down facilities in the event that occurs.

Schwab: Cyber and terrorist threats are by far the top items for our customers.

Kranz: Government and schools are driven by the need for accountability of who is going where because of information that is provided or that they are protecting.

As far as commercial, as pricing is coming down all these tenants are being issued credentials by the building management to get in and they don’t want to then use keys to get into a suite. Access is expanding inward. They are on their own system, but using the same credential.

SDM: What have you done with your vertical customers as well as in your own company regarding cyber security?

Liguori: We are trying to understand and learn a bit more about what cyber security means. Consulting with experts and meeting not only with physical security but also the IT side of organizations to understand how they manage content and what concerns they have. Things have also changed in terms of how they provide access to data centers. Years ago we had control
of the servers that supported the access control system. That has gone away. Now it is virtual in the IT centers and we have almost no access to them. Any time there is a problem we have to call someone. Internally, we have talked to people that specialize in it and expect that in two to three years we will have a cyber department, if you will.

Kranz: We are choosing to be involved with cyber. As a security contractor we will never be cyber security experts, but we don’t want to add to their concerns. Being able to say ‘these are steps we take’ to protect them from cyber security breaches gives us a little bit of an advantage.

We also have companies we partner with that offer cyber plans and assessments. We offer that service to our customers. Vertical market-wise, I would say the commercial customer is most interested right now. Government is more likely to have their own. But in the government space, knowing that we take it seriously helps us as well.

SDM: What technologies are proving popular in your top verticals?

Kranz: In general we are seeing more of the all-in-one locks. They are quick to install and far less expensive than having them be separated. We have seen some electronic locks with colleges and universities where we are putting electrified locks on every door. In government there is a lot of just maintaining privacy and data closets. The same goes for schools. Any place where there is a network switch access is far stricter.

Liguori: Our verticals are all technology-driven. They are constantly looking to us to keep them abreast of what is going on. In healthcare there is the challenge between heightened security and maintaining an open environment.

In higher education we have talked about the wireless credential with all the facilities and some are using it on a limited basis. Surprisingly we are seeing turnstiles and requests for metal detection there as well. Students can’t be frisked or searched and there is a concern [about] what they are bringing in. This is for specific buildings that have high notoriety, such as libraries where people come in for a long period of time. Banking is more revenue-driven. There it is more about card access and video integration. They tend to be more conventional than the others, but they are upgrading to new Bluetooth readers.

SDM: What lessons have you learned that might help other security integrators in these or other verticals?

Schwab: One of the big lessons we’ve learned is dedicating teams to learn the verticals. It’s not easy to master all the ins and outs of a new industry, and we have a big advantage on new projects when we have worked with similar organizations in the same verticals. Also, paperwork; being successful in these verticals really requires being able to manage the
requirements and the paperwork.

Kranz: For government especially it is learning to read the contracts and understanding that without proper documentation you are not getting paid. The biggest lesson we learned the first couple times working in a commercial site was understanding that the customers don’t know. They are relying on someone else to tell them what to do. Most people we work with today have an IT background. Security for them is, ‘You are going on my network.’ You are playing in their realm or on their network, so it is important to provide them the information they require.

Liguori: What we typically do is when a customer indicates a specific request or wants to go in a direction we are not familiar with, we research it and we engage in a pilot on site. We get a feel for the environment. It is a learning process. When we finally get to the point where the client decides that is the direction they want to go, then we understand what our roles are, what the manufacturer has to provide and any fulfillment issues there will be to meet the needs of the customer.

The devil is in the details. You can never ask enough questions or do enough research. You always find something you weren’t aware of. So be prepared.

For example, one particular story comes to mind. Two years ago a banking customer wanted our company to move its access control host and redundant server from New York to New Jersey over the Fourth of July with almost no notice. They told us on July 1. When we started to detail the difficulty, along with our concern about lack of planning, this customer turned to me and said, ‘Anyone can hang a reader on the wall. I keep you guys because you come through when I need you.’ We got it done and they are still a client. I’ll never forget it.

Access Control Doesn’t Have to Interfere With Performance

Organizations often have to balance security against staff performance, particularly when it comes to access control security technology. So, how can organizations utilize access control systems in ways that don’t undermine staff performance? One way is to apply a “Wheel of Convenience” to help identify which access control tools will provide the most secure experience while supporting the work mission. The Wheel of Convenience allows decision-makers to weigh security against convenience. For instance, a workplace needing enhanced security but not quick access might opt for short-range readers while a hospital emergency room needing immediate access would choose a long-range reader providing immediate entry to doctors and nurses.

There are two primary standards for access readers: UHF and microwave. UHF, or Ultra High Frequency, credentials can work on lanyards or access card clips and achieve relatively large reading distances. UHF readers have long been the standard for vehicle identification, but the technology is useful for building security, as well. Because UHF readers will usually be able to read the card at a distance of 12 feet or so, that provides plenty of time for doors to open before the staff member gets to the doorway.

One disadvantage of UHF technology is that UHF readers require line-of sight, so they won’t work if stored in pockets or briefcases. In some workplaces, this could impinge upon productivity. Also, the technology doesn’t yet support encryption, and with the sophistication of data grabbing technologies, this may be a liability that makes UHF less suitable for some workplaces.

The second common RFID standard includes microwave readers and credentials. Microwave technology has a more robust signal than UHF, which can be an advantage in settings presenting the
possibility of frequency interference from equipment, walls, and other potential barriers. However, this added robustness can impact security if the technology causes doors to open too soon or for longer periods of time than necessary.

The Wheel of Convenience can help determine which type of security access meets the needs of any workplace. By helping organizations weigh security against convenience, it can help the find the perfect security access tool. — Contributed by Curtis Dennis, technical lead for Nedap Identification Systems in the Americas

Read the original article at SDM Magazine.

Security systems integrators will need increased IT expertise in 2018

by Matthew J. Ladd, The Protection Bureau

The security market is very active right now. Business is strong, according to most of the people that I talk to in the industry. In 2017, we at The Protection Bureau had one of our best years ever revenue-wise. Because of a strong economy, businesses are spending money on security.

2017 growing trends

The trends that happened in 2017 vary. One trend that is growing is the national account concept. This is because clients are deploying more and more enterprise-level systems and taking advantage of network-based systems.

Another trend this past year is growth of the IP video market, a strong technology in the market because and where many integrators generate their revenue. We also saw many clients with older surveillance systems invest in updating their technology, such as replacing older IP-based systems with newer versions and taking advantage of analytics and greater recording options and storage solutions. Many of our customers also invested in updating their access control systems by replacing their older Weigand cards with more secure card formats.

Unexpected challenges

One of the unexpected challenges we ran into this past year related to technical roadblocks that integrators hit with products. For example, a camera manufacturer may increase the capabilities of the camera, but the capabilities of the recording systems have not caught up. Or, the access control system has to integrate with other systems, but the application programming interface (API) is not finished. That has perhaps been one of the biggest surprises this year as an integrator.

Looking ahead to 2018

The economy looks like it will be as strong in 2018 as it was in 2017. I expect that cybersecurity will continue to have a strong impact on the security market because there are greater network security issues. It’s important that security systems integrators understand that the cybersecurity impact is going to be huge in 2018.

Some other impacts I expect to take shape involve the IP camera market. There is currently a battle going on as to who can provide the lowest-cost camera. This means that integrators are going to have to watch their margins. For example, if the integrator buys a camera for $500 and sells it for $1,000 that is a good margin. However, if that camera now cost $100, and the mark-up is $200, that will greatly reduce profits.

Strong IT service providers will win

The biggest winners in the market will be those who position their companies to be strong IT service providers. The trends are changing very quickly, and security systems integrators who are geared towards providing a high level of technical expertise are going to be more successful.There is currently a battle going on as to who can provide the lowest-cost camera. This means that integrators are going to have to watch their margins

Business at The Protection Bureau is up 19 percent over last year. We also completed projects in 39 states and one country, so our national accounts business is extremely strong. Our successes have been in the organisation, project management and sales of national accounts. The challenge going forward is to keep up that level of revenue, profitability and manpower. If you talk to any integrator around the country and ask them what is your biggest headache, they will tell you it’s finding good people trained on IT and networks.

Certified Security Project Manager qualifications

2017 was also an extremely strong year for Security-Net, of which The Protection Bureau is a member, especially relating to the national account work we do with each other. Last year we achieved $17.8 million in revenues with national level projects and expect to beat that number in 2018. The quality of the members of Security-Net continues to grow.

We are also really pleased that all of our security project managers are becoming a Certified Security Project Manager (CSPM) through the Security Industry Association. This is going to have a positive impact on Security-Net and every member’s business.

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