The moment the first piece of physical security equipment was envisioned to one day reside on a network, it set in motion a tick-tock countdown to the day traditional installing contractors would need to adapt to a new industry order.
The dawning of that new day has, of course, arrived and the obvious reality is that networking is fast changing the business model in the electronic security industry. Training will largely be the savior for security contractors who desire to keep pace with security products and integrated systems that are increasingly becoming Internet protocol (IP)-based.
Many manufacturers have worked diligently to provide education and hands-on instruction for their specific networked products. Still, the IT training landscape in physical security has heretofore been highly fragmented with distributors, associations and other entities only recently beginning to complement their stalwart analog curriculum with IP-based coursework.
For an IP newbie bent on prospering in the era of convergence, making sense of where to find the right training can be perplexing. However, a new day is rising in the training realm as well: 2009 will bring broadened offerings as long-time dealer partners in distribution, the supply side and elsewhere will roll out new coursework to meet growing demand for networking know-how.
Distributors Ramping Up Offerings
A prime example of the security industry’s urgency to train its installing brethren is possibly no more evident than in distribution. Long a bastion of analog-related instruction for dealer clients, some distributors have begun in earnest to not just offer a smattering of basic IP-related coursework, but to make it a strongpoint of their portfolio.
The reason is simple enough, says Michael Masten, national training manager for Melville, N.Y.-based ADI. “A lot is driven today by the IT professionals and an installing company that doesn’t have the required certification may disqualify themselves from the job,” he says.
As Masten explains, ADI saw a huge hole in IP education, both for employees and dealer clients, and decided to do something about it. The company set on a path to build knowledge through internal training in order to then launch curriculum offerings across North America. In 2008 the company held about 40 in-branch IP trainings such as Security Networking 101 and Networking 201 Advanced Lab & Certification prep courses.
ADI’s hands-on networking skills instruction can center on troubleshooting common problems in the field. These range from the simple (pinpointing an unconnected cable) to the more difficult (fixing a camera’s altered IP address so that it communicates with the head-end).
Much of the network-based technician training in the industry is currently focused on video surveillance and access control as both segments continue to drive IP technology. In 2009, ADI will add to that a special IP training focus for the sales and customer service sides of installing companies. The gist of it: Dealer/installers need to talk the talk from the beginning of a project to its conclusion.
“The salesperson needs to have the proper skill set to interface with IT personnel and the various departments of an end-user organization,” says Masten. “We want to equip our dealers with the tools they need to successfully present IP solutions to their customers.”
Tri-Ed, an independent distributor of security, low-voltage and home automation products, is making a big push into IP-based training as well. The Woodbury, N.Y.-based company has hired Lee Duncan, who has NICET level IV certification, to lead its newly-enhanced instructional programming. Duncan and a team of others are busily shuffling around the country taking product training courses from various suppliers to gain knowledge they will impart to students in upcoming courses at various Tri-Ed branches in North America.
“It is one of our strategic objectives for 2009,” says Tri-Ed COO Pat Comunale. Comunale estimates the current IP market share in the distribution space hovers between 5 to 7 percent, and is inevitably gaining more traction everyday.
“We are seeing much faster adoption as prices come down and technology becomes more plug ‘n’ play. We are definitely seeing it accelerate and we are trying to make that happen with a lot of the training we are doing,” he says.
To meet its first-quarter objectives in 2009, Tri-Ed is planning 12 new courses centered squarely on the network. A basic networking course will highlight Cat-5 wiring, RJ-45 termination, network topography and networking terminology. Other coursework will provides details about IP video communication and networking. The foundational aspect of the curriculum is essential for new entrants into the IP space, says Duncan.
“We have our turnkey security guys that are used to doing two doors and a motion. Those guys don’t know the first thing about networking, so we need to get them up to speed with what is on the shelf right now and then move forward with more in-depth training,” Duncan says.
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