PSA Tech Committee’s Take on Analytics, Biometrics, Wireless Access and Mobile Security

PSA Security Network hosted a forum during its PSA-TEC event to assess the pros and cons of four hot technologies.

While attending the always-worthwhile PSA-TEC event just outside Denver May 4-8, I had the pleasure of sitting in on the organization’s Technical Committee meeting. There several dozen industry professionals were broken up into groups of six to eight and given 15 minutes (60 total) to share thoughts, experiences, concerns and opportunities associated with four different technology areas: video analytics, biometric access control, wireless door hardware and mobile device-enabled security control. Included at my table were ESS’ Kurt Kottkamp, Will Electronics’ Kurt Will, CCS’ Charlie Baker and Ken Robison, and Netronix Steve Piechota. Then, Technical Committee Chairman David Sime (vice president engineering for Contava) asked each table for a summary of their findings. Following are some of the points that were expressed.

Video Analytics ― Integrators are not using the technology very much, and remain leery of doing so outside a few very specific uses (e.g. loitering and tripwire type detection) in relatively controlled environments. Participants said they really liked the VideoIQ technology but are unsure of it remaining as viable since the company was recently acquired by Avigilon. Consensus was edge technology is the optimal topology for analytics, but lamented that the many cameras now coming with basic analytic capabilities built in may not always work seamlessly with a given video management system or other surveillance system devices (even when ONVIF compliant). Some participants noted particular success using analytics for simple motion detection with a talk-down feature, for perimeter fence deployment with and without thermal imaging cameras, and for license plate recognition (LPR). Despite the limitations integrators are eager to see the technology continue to advance so it can help security solutions deliver preemptively.

Biometrics ― In many ways, this one was similar to video analytics according to integrator participants: suspect reliability, high cost and limited applications. As with analytics, integrators said managing customer expectations is critical and recommend it primarily for multifactor authentication use. The preferred types of biometrics are fingerprint and iris recognition, which can work quite well for very high security applications such as pharmaceutical and government deployments. Integrators conceded they do not actively sell biometrics but instead provide when customers request it or if it is a mandate. Bottom line is integrators for the most part believe biometrics is still not ready for primetime, although they are keen on seeing it progress, especially facial recognition. Some of the better suppliers mentioned were Suprema, FST, ZKAccess and Stone Lock.

Wireless Door Hardware ― Integrators started out very positive about the new trend of wireless access control with most of the “guts” in the door device, but they then agreed on some challenges. For example, while the cost of going wireless can save a third of the total installation time/cost not having to run wire, the higher back-end costs and ongoing maintenance (e.g. batteries) can make it a wash. Another issue is appearance, in that the wireless options often do not conform with building aesthetics. Having to work more closely with an end user’s IT department was another concern. As well, the potential latency of wireless devices makes them lacking for certain applications such as schools where immediate lockdowns may be necessary. Finally, it was suggested that using WiFi can open an access system up to a higher degree of cybersecurity vulnerability. Still, integrators say more jobs are being spec’d with wireless access devices and they do like the ease of installation. Plus, some see the need to replace batteries as a positive to remain in contact with the customer and generate recurring revenue. Some of the better suppliers mentioned were Allegion, Salto and Schlage.

Mobile Security ― This final category was a slam dunk in that everyone immediately agreed it has become an essential and outstanding facet of security system deployments. Everyone wants full mobile device control of all their security systems now and integrators are pleased to be able to provide it. In fact, being able to receive alarms and surveillance footage, etc. on smartphones and tablets is actually helping integrators close more sales. In particular, participants noted solutions from Kantech, Genetec, Milestone and Lenel are especially effective. 

About the Author

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Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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