Call for Standards Grows Louder

There are trends that affect every industry, and business planners supplying those industries have to make the determination to ride them or — if they feel their self-interests are not well served — ignore them. The decision to get involved is pretty simple. The opportunity is laid out along with a rationale and the investments required.

Sometimes a backup appraisal of the “price to pay” for not participating is held in suspension in case there’s too much procrastination among the decision makers.

The convergence trend has been a constant challenge on every security manufacturer’s decision agenda for quite a while. Integrators and users involved in the planning and installation of these systems claim the trend is now in the third inning of its development. However, they also admit to uncertainty. 

We’ve moved from interfacing to integrating to converging. We’ve passed through the first two with reasonably good clarity, but converging may mean different things to different people. Manufacturers and integrators are saying that they’re not happy with the real fundamentals of the trend. How much does it really overlap the interfacing and integrating trends? There is concern that we’re using “convergence” to talk about systems that really fall into those other camps. If so, the very nature of the trend may still be a bit misunderstood. Is a security system truly converged only when it communicates over the digital backbone and uses the Internet?

A Need for Guidelines

Today’s security manufacturers and integrators hold the strong belief that the industry needs a set of technical standards to properly address convergent security systems and to minimize this confusion. While eight of every 10 manufacturers believe we need these guidelines, virtually every integrator in the country believes the same thing. They even suggest that manufacturers do not fully understand the complexities integrators face when making a presentation to managers of both the security and IT departments.

But what is the process for creating product and system standards that stand astride two industries with their own way of thinking? Judging by the time it takes to establish standards, integrators may have to keep going in the present direction. They will need to continue training themselves, developing relationships with IT personnel and security managers, and creating “entrepreneurial” standards that, by trial and error, constitute the fundamentals of a truly converged system.

In addition to enveloping a building with a converged security system, it’s obvious that convergence also places the security industry on the thresholds of both the building automation and industrial controls industries. So if we think we need standards for just security convergence, wait until we get more deeply involved in those industries.

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