Revolution to Evolution: Convergence and Integration

Security Dealer magazine interview of Milestone's Eric Fullerton

In September and October, Security Dealer magazine had a two-part series on the progress of security with IT convergence and integration. Eric Fullerton, President of Milestone Systems Inc., was interviewed, and the full document of this is attached in PDF here. Below is an excerpt.


Q. What kind of future do you see for the video surveillance market? What advancements do you foresee in this market? In your opinion, are we moving in the right direction?

A. All market forecasts highlight the IT convergence and it is absolutely the right direction. Everyone benefits from an IP network approach. Just as the IT world’s ERP advancements helped raise the level of business operations and thereby the careers of warehouse managers (for example), IT applications are now also raising the professional levels of security personnel and dealers. This is evident in new educational degrees and certifications, and a more sophisticated approach to customer service. It’s no longer just a matter of installing the cables, cameras and alarms, but a total business network that must be considered and incorporated with technological expertise.


Q. What other technological innovations have you seen in recent years in the security industry? Have they been implemented or adopted in your business model?

A. Milestone Systems was founded by IT professionals with the vision to foresee the advantages of applying networked technology to video surveillance: precisely that which is motivating the convergence of the IT and security industries. Especially valuable is the ability to integrate the classic security video surveillance with other systems for Point-of-Sale, Access Control, employee databases, product information, etc.


Q. What do we think is driving the move toward convergence? Which new players should we expect to see in the industry as a result of the convergence trend?

A. The new players in the security industry are coming from the IT world, like Systems Integrators, particularly vendor certified network systems partners, as they move to include physical security issues into their holistic network approach for serving customer needs. Their growing business with IP-telephony is driving a parallel interest in IP video surveillance. Traditional security dealers have to educate themselves on the new technology, hire new people with IT skills, or partner up with IT experts in order to meet the more advanced demands of the market going forward.


Q. What training or resources do integrators need to be more effective in managing and implementing the emerging technologies today?

A. Obviously, the IT skills mentioned earlier, particularly in relation to IP networks and use of the internet. Microsoft’s .NET technology would also be a good direction to go. In England and Wales there’s a new law requiring all contracted security guards, doormen, and surveillance operators to be licensed according to a nationally-standardized training course. It is estimated that SIA in the UK will issue 300,000 licenses across all security sectors by 2007, with renewals required every 3 years. This project may well become a model for other countries in future. Milestone would actively support such an initiative in the USA.. For the time being we are certifying our own integrator channel to help lift the knowledge level and thus the quality of every day security in the new IP security world.


Q. Does ROI analysis make it more likely that the end user will sign off on larger, more effective solutions? Is it the vendor or integrators’ responsibility to determine these benefits?

A. Moving to a 100% IP based surveillance system enables integration to other business systems that until now has been very cumbersome or outright impossible. In most cases these new possibilities are changing video surveillance from a cost of ownership to a positive and very fast ROI achieved. This is the real driver that will force IP video surveillance into the market place over the next years. Terrorism and Homeland Defense funds are helping, however ROI is the real core motivator for the new IP-based security systems.


Q. How has increasing integration and convergence within the security market affected the actual level of security, in general?

A. The end users gain tremendous benefits in cost and labor efficiencies, making optimal use of network system setups, better coordination between devices, systems and different locations, more flexibility, better administration and maintenance, and not least the remote capabilities that allow access from anywhere, anytime. Security is definitely improved by better monitoring and alerting, and response times are much faster.


Q. What specific benefits do you see in integrated solutions such as a centralized GUI, converged physical and information security, and the adoption of TCP/IP as a platform? Do all end users need/want such technology or is a more traditional approach often more appropriate?

A. The better ROI for IP based systems will drive IP platform deployment at a rapid speed. There’s no reason to choose a traditional analog approach when computers and IP networks are so widespread today. Even a small retail store owner can see the advantages of being sent an alert on his mobile phone and logging on to his surveillance system from a home PC to see if it’s a burglar or stray dog that’s gotten in to his building during the night. This same thing addresses police needs on alarm verification to avoid unnecessary use of manpower.