By David Sylvester, VP of Business Development, Roper Industries
Wireless sensor networks in commercial settings are continuing to gain traction for life-safety applications. The wave of smart phones and tablet computers has contributed to an increased acceptance of wireless as a reliable alternative to wired in security and life-safety. 900MHz wireless sensor network technology, in particular, continues to prove itself as a trusted solution for emergency situations. Decision makers in the security industry are seeing a surge in the demand for wireless solutions, particularly in IP-based security solutions and applications that require mobile security capabilities. The need for integrated security solutions that can tie all the benefits of wireless together into a single, seamless platform as well as manage security infrastructure has become top of mind for many. Security dealers and directors are increasingly leveraging wireless throughout their organizations for these reasons. In 2011, we are seeing several trends that reflect this movement towards wireless.
Trend #1: Standardization on IP-based Hardware and Systems
Video is a hot topic today and generates the majority of physical security industry buzz. It is also clear that systems are leading to IP based platforms. Manufacturers of access control panels and video management systems are integrating their security networks into a cohesive IP-based solution. The transition to IP-based specifications is accelerating and will quickly drive the industry standard for all products.
There are numerous functions an IP-based system can monitor, control, and derive business information from as an added benefit. By closely monitoring security points, building automation, identity management, users can demonstrate a measureable payback. The information obtained can be put onto the network to generate data that is correlated and presented to management to help better manage the business and increase efficiency. IP creates a common connectivity, establishing the basis for total system coordination. This, in turn, sets the foundation for development of new applications and capabilities, and ultimately a layer of PSIM solutions.
Trend #2: Adoption of Wireless Technology Accelerating Rapidly
Wireless sensor networks and wireless locking hardware have been available for years, but the adoption of these technologies for security applications has been a slow process. However, with the popularity of smart phones and iPads, decision makers are beginning to accept wireless technology as a ubiquitous solution. Wireless sensor networks in commercial settings for life-safety applications continue to gain traction due to their ease in extending monitored sensors, speed of installation, cost savings at the end-user level, mobility and reliability.
Wireless technologies and mobile hardware have set an expectation of being able to do our work anywhere, any time and while on the move. That said, it is critical to note that not all wireless is the same. When it comes to planning a wireless system designed for life safety, it is critical that decision makers are informed of the differences between “casual” wireless verses life-safety wireless technologies. Casual wireless is intended for information and data flow where disruption or loss of signal creates a need to log back on to the network, such as Wi-Fi. On the other hand, in a life-safety application, the loss of signal could equal loss of life. If a life-threatening event occurs at a facility or on a multiple-building campus, 900 MHz wireless technologies are an effective way to transmit an alert because of their long range, durability and reliability. It enables the system to process and locate the position of the event and alert authorities immediately. Security dealers and integrators are learning that the benefits using the appropriate wireless technologies will improve the tangible ROI that commercial property owners expect.
Trend #3: Wireless Systems Create Expanded Applications, Security, Situational Awareness and Location Capabilities
Today, the expectation that we can take our work with us is creating new applications for smart phones, as well as stimulating growth in rugged mobile computing applications. This use of wireless mobility generates productivity that quickly moves beyond the facility and includes the entire campus environment or even city. Increasingly, productivity, security and safety applications are driven from situational awareness and location needs.
In campus or city environments, situational awareness and location plays a key role in first responder support, situational verification and event resolution. As the number of mobile security persons and human assets increases, it is critical to know where they are located within a building or campus setting when a duress alarm is activated. Wireless solutions can enable mobile duress applications by determining the area and location of an alarm – allowing those who are in harm’s way to signal for help and be immediately located.
Wireless sensor networks ensure that critical staff on and off campus are alerted in the most efficient way possible in the event of a threat. They offer the ability to alert users after-hours or when campuses and buildings are typically empty. The faster critical staff are notified of an issue, the more rapidly they can take action and in some instances save lives. As decision makers evaluate their options, it becomes essential to find a situational awareness and location solution that offers productivity, security and life-safety. And increasingly, wireless sensor networks will continue to play a critical role in physical security systems.
Trend #4: PSIM Solutions Knit All Data & Information Together Creating Collaboration on a Single Platform
All wireless security trends are leading to an increased demand for Physical Security Information Management (PSIM). Today, there are many individual pieces of a security system – physical access control (PACS), video management systems (VMS), alarm monitoring/response, real-time location systems (RTLS) as well as IT system access. PSIM solutions bring all the disparate systems together into one cohesive solution. With a proper PSIM solution in place, users will see increased security and safety, as well as improved first responder efficiencies. These solutions also will demonstrate new elements of productivity that create clear return on investments.
To properly monitor continually expanding wireless applications, a system that has achieved PSIM should have the capability to connect and manage a variety of security applications, such as video surveillance, access control, intrusion, fire and life-safety, perimeter protection, mass notification and building automation. The flexibility and reliability of wireless systems will play an important role in this evolution. Because integrated solutions can be so complex, wireless sensor networks -- which are easy-to-install, user friendly and reliable -- are expected to gain increasing acceptance among the security industry.
Wireless sensor networks in commercial settings are continuing to gain traction due to their ease in extending monitoring sensors, speed of installation, cost savings, mobility and reliability. Security dealers and integrators are looking for vendors who can better integrate differing pieces of a security system onto a single platform to attain true PSIM capabilities. As wireless technology for life-safety applications increases, the security industry will see the use of PSIM solutions steadily increase and expand across entire facilities and campuses.
David Sylvester is a vice president of business development at Roper Industries (www.roperind.com). Roper owns Inovonics (www.inovonics.com), a leading manufacturer of wireless sensor networks.