Talking economy, new technology, in the desert

AMAG hosts engineering symposium, says stimulus bill is 'a focus'
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--AMAG Technology has a person solely dedicated to delving into the guts of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus package bill, “trying to figure out where the money is for the security industry,” Bob Sawyer, president and CEO of AMAG, told Security Systems News on March 3.

Sawyer took time out from the AMAG Technology Annual Security Engineering Symposium, held here at the Fairmont Hotel, March 1 through 4, to talk about the event, the economy and AMAG.

Taking a good hard look at the stimulus package will definitely be “a focus” of AMAG’s lead-generation activities this year. “I think it has the potential to be huge,” he said.

AMAG is ready to find the shovel-ready project leads, he said, and it will quickly qualify and get those leads out to its manufacturing and integrator partners.

AMAG is fairing well, despite the economic slowdown, Sawyer said. “Year over year we’re still growing on the revenue line.” This enviable position appeared to be shared by many conference attendees, several of whom told a reporter they had the biggest backlog of jobs ever.

More than 70 consultants attended the event, which is in its eighth year, and is dedicated to product education (including a preview of AMAG’s next generation of its Symmetry Video product) and how AMAG integrates with partners’ products. Consultants are encouraged to give feedback on products that are under development and there is lots of networking and discussion of industry trends as well.

Topics of interest this year included standards and video analytics. After a discussion of when standards will be in place, Matt Barnette, AMAG vice president of sales and marketing, called it a chicken-and-egg question. “Standards will be in place once you start specifying them in projects,” he said to a roomful of consultants, adding that some standards will have to emerge, of course, before they’ll be specified. Pressed for a date, Barnette and others seemed to agree that some standards will begin to be specified in the next 18 months.

On why video analytics have not been employed more, the consensus appeared to be that they’ve been oversold from the beginning as a miracle cure, and overpriced, because many analytics companies are owned by venture capital companies who do not have a realistic idea of price points.

IP video manufacturer Axis Communications was here and Jack Meltzer, consultant program manager, was talking about H.264’s role in surveillance. He called the compression standard “extremely important for our industry … it affects bandwidth and storage - better quality with lower bandwidth and lower storage … it affects everyone whether [the project is] a gas station or a bank or a large multinational corporation.”

Ingersoll Rand’s regional sales director for the West, Dave Middleton, gave a presentation about managing multiple levels of security for data centers. (It worked with AMAG on a huge project for Equinex IBX. Search on for a security tour of one of those centers.) Middleton called data centers large and small, “a niche opportunity, but a very healthy opportunity for certain integrators.” The CAGR of data center spending between 2008 and 2014 is expected to be 11 percent, Middleton said. “I’ve even seen some projects accelerated. The money’s still there,” he said. HID’s James Reno, director OEMs West, was at the conference talking about HID’s launch of “HID at the Desktop” its combined logical and physical access solution for the masses; NEC’s Ken Hertzler, director of server products, focused on when you need high availability for security systems and how to get it.

Intransa’s Jonathan Perkins, VP worldwide sales, explained Intransa’s pooled storage solution, which he billed as the economical answer to video that’s slowed down, dropped or jerky. People think those problems are caused by the camera, but usually it’s a problem with the storage, he said. Intransa is “constantly testing” with other products to optimize the product and ensure that it’s “fast, high performance, with no dropped video.”

Talking about the “forgotten sense,” audio, and what it brings to the security puzzle was Dan Rothrock, senior VP of Zenitel. “There was a time when you put a camera in a parking lot and thought you had security … then you added analytics, and access control … but you left off one of the senses. The system can’t hear or talk,” he said. “More and more, people are starting to understand the importance of audio,” Rothrock said.