SP&T News recently reached out to a variety of security systems manufacturers and developers and asked them for some helpful pointers that we can relay directly to our readership. Read on for advice on customer relationships, IoT, legacy systems, connected devices, project management and more.
By SP&T Staff
Ish Ishkanian, Pre-sales Manager, U.S & Canada, Milestone Systems
For large and complex integrations, most dealers try to tackle the entire challenge as one whole implementation. Due to the complexity of these projects, it then becomes exceedingly hard to diagnose issues. I recommend in these cases dividing the project into multiple stages and delivering on each as individual projects. This helps to simplify the design and helps in cutting the time required to diagnose a problem.
Having trained and certified technicians to execute these projects is also an essential part of ensuring success. Additionally, it’s important to have the technician spend some time prior to the installation to re-familiarize himself with the products involved. We sometimes see partners’ technicians who are certified on our software but have not touched the product for a few months and forgotten some important aspects of it. In my opinion, the time invested in reviewing the products for the project pays for itself quickly with less stressful and easier installations.
John Voyatzis, Country Manager, Canada, Digital Watchdog
For 2018, we suggest that integrators review the relationship between themselves, the manufacturer and the distributor. It is a partnership that will yield the right solution for the application, the best prices available and reliable service before, during and after the sale. Taking the time to ask for opinions from others can often pay dividends.
Integrators might find it attractive to search for deals on the Internet. An integrator may be in a rush and find it convenient to pick up what is available at the distributor. Sales circulars offer some of the available offers, but not all the offers available from a manufacturer. Manufacturers look at those published offers as conversation starters. Distribution personnel are able to listen to the integrator’s needs and provide options to consider. Engaging a manufacturer’s representative will reveal additional recommendations after considering the entire product line. Filing a project registration with the manufacturer provides assurance that the distributor is quoting the best price.
Taking the time to use others as sounding boards can 1. Make it easier to sell the end-user customer and 2. Simplify the installation. Sometimes we think that gathering input complicates the situation. For integrators, discovering their options reduces the complications in assembling the right system for the application.
Dwight Dumpert, Director of Product Management, FLIR Security
Thermal cameras with onboard analytics are the industry standard for 24-hour monitoring and intrusion detection. However, configuring these cameras for high performance requires expertise and skill. Here are three best practices:
When installing thermal cameras on the perimeter, place them where the field of view is parallel to the fence line and perpendicular to any intruder nearing or crossing the perimeter. The greatest probability of detection occurs when targets move horizontally from one side of a camera to the other so you need to ensure that the cameras can capture any approaching individual from head to toe.
Secondly, evaluate your end user’s most important alarm detection needs to determine the best lens and focal length. A greater lens focal length provides target magnification, ideal when target classification is required at farther distances. A lens with smaller focal length yields a larger field of view, appropriate for applications where wide area perimeter detection is needed. A good rule of thumb is to define the minimal criteria for scene width and select the largest available focal length to meet the width requisite.
Third, use a statistical evaluation to define detection ranges and calculate the maximum achievable distance for detection. Professional site planning software platforms, made available by leading security manufacturers, are great resources for this and should be utilized. For example, FLIR’s Raven Site Planning Tool allows you to simulate mounting height, rotation, range and image detection to ensure accurate placement and performance in real life conditions.
Lorne Terry, Sales Director, Hikvision Canada
Best practices for complex integrated system design starts with communication during the sales process. At the initial client meeting it is paramount to have a clear understanding of the customer’s situation, needs, wants and budget. This can be a lengthy process because customers’ needs and wishes aren’t always clear or realistic. During this discovery process, integrators need to find out who the key stakeholders are. Stakeholders are often people outside of the security and facility managers, including influencers from accounting, HR, marketing and manufacturing.
Once you have a firm understanding of the customer’s expectations, you should start looking at the hardware and software that will be capable of meeting your customer’s needs. Typically, the glue that holds all of this together is head-end software, often the video management system or access control software. Choose wisely, as the head-end can quickly become the headache. Evaluate the software company’s list of integration partners and gain a clear understanding of how the integration works. Equally imperative is ascertaining how long partnerships have been in place; review successful case studies; and evaluate the support provided by all of the parties to ensure that the system will work and stay working for the long haul. Try to avoid having things customized or developed just for a particular project, as this may lead to missed deliverables and result in some serious cost overruns and an unhappy client. After all of that, remember to document the customer’s needs and wants and clearly define how you will deliver your integrated solution in your proposal.
Aaron Saks, Product and Technical Manager, Hanwha Techwin America
We’re helping integrators tackle complex integration challenges by working with VMS vendors and other third parties to integrate our direct API. While ONVIF is OK to ensure basic connections and capabilities, so much more is available when using a dynamic driver. There’s no need to write individual device drivers anymore. Using our API, any VMS can properly interrogate a camera or group of cameras, discover all available features, and configure them on the fly. Hanwha is ONVIF compliant, but like any standard, it’s not possible for it to keep up with rapidly evolving feature sets, particularly with the multiple analytics now available on-the-edge. Another key focus is the continued development of our Wisenet Device Manager software tool that allows an installer or integrator to make changes and deploy systems in bulk. Whether that’s changing framerates and bitrates, focusing cameras, turning motion detection on, or changing IP addresses and security parameters, being able to do these tasks quickly and easily is critical to our integrator partners’ and installers’ bottom-line.
Willem Ryan, Vice President, Global Marketing and Communications, Avigilon
As the world becomes increasingly connected, the way users think about and interact with security systems will continue to evolve across all verticals and applications. Cloud-based security systems are offering a new means for integrators to grow their business through a suite of managed services, while having a connected platform that can scale with them.
Cloud-based systems offer a new level of accessibility to integrators, enabling them to deploy, manage and service more sites with a new level of ease, using fewer resources. For instance, Avigilon’s Cloud platform will provide integrators the ability to remotely adjust camera and system settings, perform upgrades, and check the health of their customers’ sites, all from the Cloud, without needing to deploy a technician.
The adoption of Cloud-based security systems not only increases an integrator’s ability to manage more sites remotely, but will also help to expand their revenue streams through subscriptions-based services.
Scott Lindley, General Manager, Farpointe Data
Dealers need to be aware that 95+ per cent of all adults 18-44 years old own smart phones. Plus, 69 per cent of the entire population already uses smart phones. Thus, practically anyone using an access control system already carries a smart phone. Another way to look at it is that every smart phone user, or almost everybody, could now easily download an access control credential. In fact, they could load multiple credentials to gain access to multiple access control systems — facilities, communications, data, cafeteria and transportation.
No longer will people need various physical credentials to move throughout a facility. Instead, a person’s iPhone or Android smart phone, which they carry with them wherever they go, will have the credentials they need to enter into any authorized access system. In fact, such a system can reach beyond the facility into their homes, their automobiles or at the gym.
Smart phone credentials will be sold in the same manner as traditional 125-kHz proximity or 13.56-MHz smart cards – from the existing OEM to the dealer to the end users. For the dealer, smart phone credentials will be more convenient, less expensive and more secure. They can be delivered in person or electronically. They are quicker to bill with nothing to inventory or to be stolen. And, for those few that don’t have smart phones, they can still use a smartcard. Soft, mobile, smart phone-based access control credentials are inevitable. Every dealer needs to get on board.
David Price, Marketing Manager, Camden Door Controls
Adding voice over IP (VoIP) to telephone entry systems doesn’t just reduce the telecommunications costs for building owners/manager, it also offers a revolution in call management that provides both building owners and building tenants with more security, and more convenience. For tech-savvy dealers and integrators, VoIP telephone entry systems offer a new way to provide more benefits to customers, differentiate their business against less sophisticated competitors and, most importantly, receive RMR revenue for the telecommunications service.
VoIP telecommunications combines the advantages and capabilities of voice telephone and computer networking together. This not only allows a tenant to receive a visitor call by voice, text and/or video, on any land-line or cell phone, it also means:
• Visitor calls can be broadcast simultaneously to multiple phones at the same time
• Visitor calls can be scheduled to be sent to one phone at one time of day and another phone at a different time.
• Visitor calls can be sequenced to multiple phones so that if one device or tenant does not pick up, the call is then sent to a 2nd or 3rd device or tenant.
• Visitor calls can be easily directed to a concierge desk, automatically, by time of day or only when the call is not picked up.
Jody Ross, Vice President, Global Sales and Business Development, AMAG Technology
In addition to being up to date on all the latest technologies that integrators offer, and knowledgeable about the latest up and coming trends such as IoT and mobile solutions, the most important thing an integrator can do is understand their customer’s business as best they can.
The industry is moving away from card management to identity management. Identity management allows an organization to manage the different identities that enter its buildings. Understanding whether or not an employee, contractor or visitor has entered, and providing specific access to specific areas for a predetermined amount of times provides data the end user can use to better operate his business. This data can be used to improve onboarding and offboarding processes, access request and approvals, re-certifications and to enforce audit and compliance requirements. When an integrator understands an end user’s business, he can look beyond security and see where the business can improve its operational processes.
An identity management system will help align a business’s security operations with its business operations. The integrator will help his customer save money, meet audit and compliance requirements and mitigate risk. The end user, in turn, will look to his integrator as a subject matter expert and overall business partner.