From the ASIS Show in Orlando...IP Video All the Rage


Greetings from Orlando, Fla., from the 51st annual ASIS International show for security professionals. Along with unusual and interesting novelties, this year’s trade exhibit has also offered serious state-of-the-art security systems.

Sportscaster Marv Albert used to have a regular segment on the David Letterman Show where he highlighted the “wild, the wacky and the bizarre” moments of sports. The American Society of Industrial Security seems to have taken a cue and kicked off its annual conference and expo Monday in Orlando with its own share of oddities, ranging from appearances by the Hooters Girls to Jack Ruby's .38 Special.

The latter was on display at the booth of Video Protein, a company offering Internet-based video security monitoring for smaller businesses, such as fast-food restaurants, that might not have the capital to house or maintain a DVR system. Ruby's gun, the weapon used to shoot Lee Harvey Oswald on national television, was on display, of course, to ram home the impact of capturing live video.

But it was video over Internet Protocol—seemingly everywhere on the exhibit floor—that really stole the show. According to Tom Galvin, director of video software solutions for GE Security, the buzz over IP video stems from the fact the physical security infrastructure of buildings is changing radically. Because of IP, owners can now shift a lot of the functionality of physical hardware such as switchers to their existing enterprise networks using emerging software.

Besides eliminating the need for a lot of hardware, said Galvin, the switch to IP also offers the opportunity to cut down on wiring requirements. For example, a typical dome security camera requires three cables, one each for power, video and data. With IP, including power over Ethernet (PoE), that can all be boiled down to one cable.

But it goes beyond the issue of cost savings. Security system designers, added Galvin,

This is something with which the security specialists at fire-protection consulting firm Schirmer Engineering couldn’t concur more. They noted that the role of IT professional is, in their experience, hands-down the most critical and influential player in Corporate America. This is, in fact, according to Schirmer's Rob Lomb, actually good news, as security is still one of the most scrutinized building systems on most projects—and one of the first eyed for the budget ax.

However, if security is included as part of an IT upgrade or system, he said, security measures are much more acceptable. On top of that, much of the security equipment, thanks to IP, can be housed directly in server rooms or telecom closets.

“IT and security are really coming together,” explained Lomb’s colleague Steve Moritz. This initially was a challenge, but later a blessing. “By using the same infrastructure, we were forced into a team, but now it really helps us because we have a dedicated budget that also allows us to get life safety in there too," said Moritz.

One final note regarding the whole emergence and convergence of M/E building systems and IT enterprise networks—it can be a revenue generator for clients.

According to Scott Howell with Hirsch Electronics, they've found that pursuit of interoperable, XML-based security technology has opened many doors with owners as they've discovered ways to monetize these systems.

Take parking structures, for example. Beyond traditional security functions, they've been able to work with clients to tie security systems into the company’s enterprise to track tenant parking habits. And in instances of overuse, the client now charges those tenants an extra fee.

And in the case of human resource departments, such integration easily allows for the issuance—and termination—of security credentials, which, Howell said, can be key in averting workplace violence.

“It really comes down to the fact that people just want stuff to work with their existing systems,” he said.

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