Adding Value for Facility Managers
As integrated systems and interoperable platforms have advanced so too has the ability to interconnect security systems with other building and facility controls, such as HVAC and temperature monitoring. Leading providers of these systems and services discuss how other firms can either improve or add similar offerings
For many years a limited number of traditional installing security contractors have carved out a niche offering basic environmental and supervisory alarms to residential, commercial and industrial end users. As a means to subsidize a typical security/life-safety portfolio, these mostly a la carte services have long included room temperature and humidity, flooding, low-water level and other monitoring options.
Today — driven by the expansion of open standards and interoperable platforms — new opportunities are emerging to expand upon nontraditional security services even further. To varying degrees, based partly on skills and experience with IP networking, services such as HVAC automation, remote building sensing, lighting controls and more are now within reach for a greater number of small to midsize dealers and integrators.
SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION interviewed subject experts from two leading commercial providers to find out the latest developments surrounding these systems and services. Along with offering guidance for other firms to improve or add facility and environmental controls to their portfolios, the discussion addresses where to find project opportunities, various market drivers and more. Think energy efficiencies and intensifying needs for sustainability measures.
Open Standards Open New Doors
To be sure, sophisticated building automation and high-level security integration remain the domain of an end user with very deep pockets and the large systems integrator with the wherewithal to provide it. But thanks, in part, to the advancement and adoption of open standards in the electronic security industry, smaller customers and installing contractors are able to join the facility and environmental controls party.
Although a number of platforms are helping foster growth in this area, organizations dedicated to developing and implementing common standards such as Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) and Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA) are fueling significant momentum.
“A lot of the smaller dealers and integrators look at the open standards movement as something that isn’t worth their time,” says Rob Hile, director of Integrated Security Solutions for Siemens Building Technologies (SBT). “But if they look at the open standards movement as an opportunity to learn how to take some of these subsystems and make them talk and work together, it would be great for them and great for the market.”
For starters an installing contractor can create opportunity by expanding the alarm panel to include a basic tie-in to an access control system and a building automation system. So, for instance, when the first employee arrives in the morning and card accesses at the door, the heater or air conditioning system is turned on.
“That is a simple, rudimentary thing that these dealers and integrators can do at a higher level of integration that can provide energy savings and additional safety to their customers,” Hile says. “It is huge. If they just grasp just that piece alone, the rest will come.”
Video management system (VMS) providers in particular are leveraging open and interoperable standards, which is paving an easier path for smaller dealers and integrators to expand their portfolios.
“It is an opportunity for them to go to their customer and offer a wider variety of services. When you have interoperable products it’s not a deep integration anymore, it’s really just plug and play,” Hile says.
Integration Is So Passé
The obvious goal of offering facility and environmental control services is to gain increased installation revenue and the recurring monthly revenue (RMR). But in an ever-competitive marketplace, the ability to provide a customer additional value beyond integrating subsystems with traditional security could prove to be the difference between landing the job or not going forward.
In the customer’s mind it’s not about the integration that is important any longer, says Chad Lawrence, Security & Fire Regional Manager, Southeast Region, Johnson Control Inc. (JCI). It’s all about the value you bring to the customer after the installation.
“As a value to our customers, integration is almost dead. Not that we’re not doing it, but the fact is we as service providers and integrators are having a tough time differentiating ourselves,” he says. “It’s become standard. It has become commoditized. It has become expected.”
No matter if you are a small integrator or a Fortune 100 company, there are far fewer barriers to delivering the technology used today, whether it’s as simple as a relay or standardized software development kits (SDKs). Lawrence’s point being, it’s about optimization. He maintains the value the building owner sees after the integration is where the opportunity comes for installing contractors to prove their true worth to the client.
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