Are you IP-ready?

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

The security industry has gone through numerous changes in the seven years that I’ve been covering the market, but I dare say that one technological change is likely to have the most profound impact of all.

IP-ready technology, or Internet-based security products, is fast making inroads here. It’s touching every segment of this space—surveillance, access control, burglar alarms and monitoring—and changing how integrators and end users will transmit and view information from a security system.

The possibility of using a cell phone or PDA to view surveillance images from a store or business sounded far fetched only a few years back. But, today, it’s a reality. And the technology to make it happen, and know-how from those implementing these types of security solutions, has only gotten better.

I first started seeing signs of this years ago. One of my earliest memories of a company offering remote viewing capabilities using a laptop and webcam comes from about five years ago or so, when a camera manufacturer teamed up with an IT software developer to launch the service. This camera company made a big deal about its announcement, hosting a party at a popular club in New York City during ISC East and inviting not just security trade publications, but mainstream publications and news outlets, as well.

What they showed technology writers and editors may not have been the best technology—the frames per second for images was slow and the remote viewing capability didn’t work during one demonstration—but what was impressive was the possibility.

A few years later, I experienced the technological revolution first hand. Through a password protected website, my son’s daycare transmitted images of the children during the day. I could check in to see if he was napping, eating or crying. And though the image quality wasn’t crystal clear, and the system sometimes froze, I truly could see what kind of day he was having.

Now, fast forward several years. Thanks to digital technology, not only do we have better images, but the opportunity to deploy this technology across a broader base. Retailers are using it to remotely pull up video on a shoplifter and manufacturers are using it to check on the efficiency of their manufacturing lines.

And, with time and education, the industry now has a better understanding of building a security system on a network and, for the most part, can tackle issues such as reliability, image storage, bandwidth challenges and internal security concerns.

Of course, the industry doesn’t have all the answers, and there’s still a tremendous need for education, but it’s coming. And a survey we recently completed proves that.

In a Security Systems Newspoll, our readers told us—56 percent—that IP ready appliances will dominate the market in 2005. The same percentage said they already use IP-based security products in their installations, while another 11 percent plan to add it.

The technology revolution is on. IP-ready security products are here. The question is, will you be ready?