20 Top Trends at ISC West 2019: Deeper Integrations, AI, Cloud & More
SSI’s Editor-in-Chief highlights 20 leading areas of interest evident in his 20th trip to the year’s most important trade show.
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LAS VEGAS — The 2019 International Security Conference (ISC) West — held April 9-12 at the Las Vegas Sands Convention Center — added to its stature as the year’s largest and most important electronic security industry event by drawing what appeared to be record attendance.
Indeed, on the first two days of the event cutting through the densely packed show floor aisles was like facing Pittsburgh’s famed Steel Curtain of the 1970s and many booths were as crowded as Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
All those show-goers were eager to hear about, see and touch the latest and greatest access control, intrusion detection, video surveillance, fire & life-safety, smart home, and other products, systems and technologies.
From a larger vantage point, attendees were also seeking to get a handle on the most significant trends currently sweeping through the industry. Security Sales & Integration once again combed the convention hall confines of ISC West 2019 to peruse what many of the more than 1,000 exhibitors had to offer and distilled it down to the following 20 show trends (listed in random order) for security professionals to take notice.
Click on each trend for a visual look or click through the slideshow.
Top Trends at ISC West 2019
Easier Installations — Simplifying and speeding up security installations is a longtime and ceaseless quest, but whether it’s more handy mounting hardware or products with swappable modular components, this pursuit has been reignited and in many cases rethought due to the influence of do-it-yourself (DIY) devices. This also applies to account takeover products. For example, Alula showed its BAT-Connect Communicator that enables upgrading legacy alarm systems to add video and automation while delivering an app-driven mobile experience.
Automated Design/Install & Remote Diagnostic Apps — Initially software and apps aimed at security systems design and maintenance were clunky and of too limited scope. That has changed as myriad programs are now available to make installers and techs more effective and efficient. Among those is the OvrC platform from SnapAV that allows dealers to comprehensively monitor, diagnose and in many cases remedy residential or small business network issues. The offering saves money on truck rolls while at the same time presenting recurring revenue streams.
Cybersecurity — Safeguarding against security products being hacked or being exploited as back doors into residential or commercial networks has moved from radar blip to front burner for many manufacturers, and so efforts to be harder targets and reassurances of resistance to compromise ran rampant at the show. This topic was prominent during a Hikvision press conference in which the company’s director of cybersecurity, Chuck Davis, highlighted a number of measures that included extensive third-party penetration testing and a dedicated hotline to address any issues or inquiries. ComNet continued to show off its unique Port Guardian feature, which disables a port when unauthorized access is detected.
Deeper Integrations — It has become in vogue for exhibitors to tout their technology partners as suppliers’ ecosystems grow ever wider, and that continued to escalate with sometimes what could be construed as competitors being represented side-by-side in booth displays. Whether mixing brands or choosing a unified option from a single manufacturer, interoperability is a boon for integrators and their end-user customers. This has been most evident with access control and video, but Interlogix introduced its TruProtect unified commercial security solution that, while it can incorporate video, is designed from an intrusion and access control first standpoint. The result is a robust, scalable, intelligent integrated interface.
Artificial Intelligence & Video Analytics — AI was definitely the buzz term du jour of ISC West 2019, and although most commonly associated with video analytics it found its way into everything from robotics to assorted software to sensors as well. The usability and applications for video analytics are finally becoming real some 15 years after the initial hype, but most other uses of AI remain nascent. There is no question AI will reshape the security industry, but that story is just beginning to unfold and in the meantime suppliers and channel partners must be mindful not to sour the marketplace with overhyping and under delivering.
Cloud Access Control & Video — Rivaling artificial intelligence as ISC West’s top buzz term, Cloud-based offerings were all but ubiquitous at the show. This is particularly true for hosted and managed access control and video surveillance as a service, which dealers and integrators are increasingly embracing. Not only does it bring them more recurring revenue but it also offers end users myriad advantages, including a business operations rather than capital expense alternative, less infrastructure and easier upgrading. A few examples at the show include Arcules and Vanderbilt’s ACT365.
Recurring Revenue — While recurring monthly revenue (RMR) has long been the bottomless pot of gold for the alarm industry in the form of monitoring fees and fire systems providers for testing and inspection, ever since the recession it has also been the rallying cry for all manner of security systems and integration specialists. That was certainly abundantly evident at ISC West where scores of manufacturers promoted product features offering dealers and integrators recurring revenue stream opportunities via security as a service (SaaS) and related services. Several examples are mentioned throughout this list.
Apps Approach to Video Features — The convenience, flexibility and user-friendliness of apps is increasingly being carried over into both residential and commercial security. Of course, app-based user interfaces and dealer tools have long been on the market and some vendors have begun offering third-party apps compatible with their products. However, a Bosch family company exhibiting for the first time at ISC is believed to be the first offering open platform third-party video surveillance apps compatible across a multitude of camera and video gear lines. Security and Safety Things’ (SAST) football stadium-themed booth matched its approach to the market as one of the show’s most innovative newcomers.
Smart Home Migrating to SMB — Now that the connected home is becoming a de facto standard, especially in new construction, many of those equipment manufacturers are setting their sights on the small, and in some cases midsize, business market. The reasoning is not only can those solutions help those enterprises run more safely, effectively and efficiently, but that the owners, managers and employees are beginning to look for the same features and conveniences of their electronic homes in the workplace. Seemingly, everyone wants their smartphones to serve as their remote control to the world. Alarm.com recognizes this, and also the enormous opportunity for its dealers. Thus the company has further expanded its interests beyond residential with the introduction of Enterprise Access Control and Enterprise Live Video, which are packed with multilocation management features.
Hot Verticals — It’s an exercise in trying to determine whether the chicken or the egg came first in gauging if it was integrators or their technology partners who first began emphasizing solutions rather than products (boxes), but that market approach continues to proliferate throughout the commercial/industrial sectors. In fact, several exhibitors, including Hikvision, now display booths centering around meeting the unique security and safety needs of various verticals. Among the hottest ones: education, healthcare, retail, offices, government, transportation and critical infrastructure. Lencore displayed its addressable mass notification systems, which offer strong application to most of those markets.
Broader Portfolios — Many manufacturers long known for a particular market niche, such as video surveillance or access control, are promoting other product proficiencies. In some cases, software specialists are introducing hardware and hardware firms are bringing software to market. This diversification is helping the suppliers achieve better bottom-line balance as well as feed integrators more complete solutions and better performance. Senstar is a prime example, as the longtime perimeter security leader staked its claim as an access control and VMS provider as well at ISCW.
Low Light Imaging — Was not long ago that video surveillance product manufacturers were in hot pursuit of advancing their technology to supply higher quality nighttime or dimly lit scene images. And enormous strides were made … albeit in black and white. Well the industry has entered a new era of surveillance imaging as at least two market leaders demonstrated superior nighttime/low light solutions at ISCW. Speco showed its Ultra Intensifier technology that captures color video in very low light, eliminating the need for IR LEDs and monochrome video. The Security Industry Association (SIA) recognized the breakthrough with a New Product Showcase award. Elsewhere on the expo floor, Dahua weighed in with its new Multi-flex 4x2MP multisensor camera that includes enhanced Starlight technology to keep images in color down to .005 lux.
DIY — With much of the disruption of DIY treading into professional security business beginning to settle down, many of those vendors are seeking pro install partners as well as traditional security manufacturer alliances while many other established manufacturers are bringing dealer-friendly DIY-style products to bear. For example, DMP showed its new video doorbell and Resideo announced its Total Connect platform now working with Google Assistant as well as Amazon Alexa. At the same time, SnapAV exhibited its ongoing march into the security sector by offering Clare smart home products to the channel.
Robotics — Be it by land, air or kiosk, this budding security segment once again made its presence felt at ISCW, with 18 exhibitors banding together in an Unmanned Security Expo section of the hall. However, as with most groundbreaking technologies targeting the security industry, the initial rush may have been a bit premature and the market will require several years to fully find its footing. Many of the exhibiting unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, a.k.a. drones) and unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) vendors are featured in SSI’s May 2019 Robosecurity Issue and last year’s cover story company, Nightingale Security, was also prominent at ISCW. Not helping the security robotics movement was the shuttering of Sharp’s program and the organization it founded, Robolliance, during 2018. Yet this market will undoubtedly soar in the not-too-distant future. Based on the exhibitors at this year’s show, the counter-drone market may be the best opportunity at present.
IT Players — The convergence of physical and logical security is pretty much in the rearview mirror as the two are now pretty much intertwined. For several years, IT-based vendors like Cisco and Microsoft dipped their Silicon Valley toes into the security waters but never fully dove in. An exception was some of the computer industry’s hard drive makers like Western Digital and Seagate, which seized the exploding need for digital video surveillance storage. Now, with technologies like cybersecurity, the Cloud, managed services and artificial intelligence permeating networked physical security solutions, IT brands like Dell and IBM are more prominent at the show. In fact, ISC featured a dedicated Connected Security section.
Retrofit Opportunities — Most of the time no matter which way new construction is heading, there are always existing homes, buildings and structures in need of new or upgraded security solutions. Thanks to the mostly recovered economy end users are once again opening up purse strings and spending money in this area. Exhibitors presented an array of possibilities for dealers and integrators to meet those customer needs. Among them was ASSA ABLOY whose vast floor presence reflected the dozens of access control brands it represents. Specifically, the company showed its wide variety of fully audited electronic cabinet locks that can be added to traffic, pharmaceutical, server and dozens of other types cabinets to safeguard those contents. Similarly, the firm showed an array of wireless electronic glass-door locks.
Communication Paths — Many folks are excited in anticipation of looming 5G cellular communications, which is said to be a quantum leap in wireless communications compared to what has preceded it. As that is expected to really begin penetrating the market next year, the alarm industry still has its share of 3G panel communicators, in some cases 2G, out in the field needing updating. That can be a logistical and, depending on how a dealer approaches it, potentially costly undertaking. Several exhibiting manufacturers are addressing this need, perhaps none better than Napco, which showed its StarLink line of universal LTE alarm reporting communicators featuring varied configurations of cellular and IP connectivity. The firm also captured an SSI Most Valuable Product (MVP) Award for its iSecure complete cellular alarm systems.
Down Market Sophistication — For a long while, most of the industry’s most robust security solutions, especially access control, have been too complex and expensive for smaller businesses and organizations. That is changing and was another shift evident at ISC West 2019. Some of the best examples of that could be found at Milestone, where the exhibiting VMS leader’s flagship XProtect offering comes in five flavors, from the free Essential+ to the Corporate edition. As well, Vanderbilt Industries showed its bright blue intelligent access management system aimed for up to 32 doors and 5,000 cardholders. Truly these are opportunistic times for integrators to deliver top-drawer access solutions to their SMB customer base.
Video Monitoring — Many believe intrusion detection and maybe even fire detection will eventually become completely dominated by video rather than sensors. Be that as it may, the monitoring of video is already a huge industry growth area for everything from video verified burglar alarms to guard tours to interactive crime intervention. There were myriad options and opportunities on display at ISCW associated with this market. One of the most compelling ones came from a leading industry third-party central station that believed its offering to be so vital as to make its first ever appearance as an ISC West exhibitor. The National Monitoring Center (NMC) had an actual operator station running live in its booth to demonstrate its new Proactive Video Monitoring utilizing the Cratos platform powered by Netwatch. This exciting service can make a dealer’s business more effective and profitable.
Facial Recognition — Many video analytics packages are now including this much-improved technology that post-9/11 made a mockery of security due to its high failure rates and inaccuracy (not to mention the civil rights and privacy issues outcry). For those ready to adopt and implement this biometrics technology, there are viable options. One of them was seen at the 3xLOGIC booth, with its VISIX 2MP facial recognition camera, which is driven by local software and Cloud services so as not to require an onboard database.
Take a glance at this year’s show in the video below, and check out the ISC West show page for new products, announcements and more.
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