Integrated security solutions are a key offering across our industry. The rise of open standards, like ONVIF, has allowed end users to achieve significant business benefits by linking disparate products and systems together.

However, while standards have driven innovation, they are open to interpretation. Conformance with an open standard does not necessarily mean that equipment will work together, which can lead to miscommunication, misinterpretation and missed opportunities.

In response, manufacturers need to champion the development of these standards. They also need to think of integration as more than just two systems sharing information; it should be a way of working that helps customers and end users reach business goals and add value to their operations.

In this blog, we asked David Aindow for his thoughts on integration in the physical security industry today, what he sees for the future, and the impact industry demand will have on product development.

How would you characterise the demand for integrated solutions?

There is significant demand, but particular needs vary from vertical to vertical. Take, for example, the public space, oil and gas, and critical national infrastructure (CNI) sectors. In these environments, projects, at a minimum, must address perimeter intrusion detection systems and access control and intruder alarm integration.

And the demand for integrated solutions is growing. Organisations operating in these verticals are seeking greater situational awareness in addition to quick and targeted responses to events. Open standards have helped here, but as they mature there’s a need for greater clarity and rigour, which will need to be implemented while still encouraging innovation.

More and more, though, we’re getting involved in projects that require complex integration, which goes beyond what’s possible through open standards. A case in point is video content analysis systems. These all work in broadly similar ways, but how they alert is typically proprietary to every vendor. This means specific event and graphical frameworks need to be developed to ensure end users can access all the benefits of these systems.

“Being able to go beyond historical boundaries, to identify and interpret data, and then display resulting information critical to a site’s security, will be a defining factor of successful solutions in the future.”

What are the key developments we will see in the future?

Again this varies by sector. I think there’ll be some important developments involving systems traditionally managed outside the physical security system. The real untapped potential here is in the better integration, management and interpretation of data that mission-critical systems produce. Being able to go beyond historical boundaries, identify and interpret data, and then display resulting information critical to a site’s security will be a defining factor of successful solutions in the future.

For example, in marine, oil and gas, and offshore applications, vital systems like radar are often managed outside the physical security solution. They have their own consoles, user interfaces, cameras and data, which are not part of the general surveillance system. There’s a real benefit to tying radar and surveillance systems together. Sharing network infrastructure and data across the systems enables threats to be automatically detected and tracked through the absolute positioning of cameras. This allows operators to identify a risk quickly, activity monitor it and respond appropriately.

Another area I believe will become more important is the greater integration of cyber and physical security systems. Here data mining capabilities will allow security solutions to give operators and organizations sight of currently obscured risks. In theory, any variations against set IT parameters can trigger alarms and alerts, like any other system. Reviewing these alongside physical security data will give a clearer view of site security. This will start to address a crucial question; if someone’s attacking my key systems or taking down my website, do they pose a risk inside or outside my facilities?

What does this mean for product and market development?

What is essential for the industry to move forward and remain relevant to end users is the development of security platforms capable of seamlessly ‘glueing’ critical systems together. This is why I believe creating intelligently integrated solutions needs to become more of the standard, as opposed to just enabling basic communication between systems.

When it comes to individual integrations, we, as technology providers, need to be proactive as well as reactive. We must examine a market from a vertical and geographical point of view and look at complementary technology vendors. For each new request or identified integration, we should examine the technology and help establish what good integration should look like and how it can be achieved (which may be through standards already in place). Critically, we also need to evaluate how each new integration could be leveraged by other applications. Of course, each project is unique, so there may need to be refinements made to ensure the final system meets the needs of each end user.

To support this, software solutions will need to be increasingly flexible and modular. Adding this into the mix will allow customers to access the enhanced functionality of intelligently integrated solutions without the need for the drawn-out implementation processes and high costs that have become associated with some projects. This will also ensure that end users have a system that works as originally intended, without compromise.

Technology companies have a key responsibility to educate the market and clearly show what is possible while never overselling the integration capabilities. We need to work together – end users, integrators and technology providers – and understand that it takes strong partners and a collaborative approach to successfully deliver on the promise of intelligent integration.