AV and IT combine for more options, opinions
By: USAV Group
The idea of convergence between commercial A/V and IT industries is in the past; It is now a reality here to stay. Around the corner is the adoption of physical security which we see nudging its way further into the Venn diagram overlap. With A/V and security moving to a network-based infrastructure, both industries need to be quick to adopt foundational levels of IT solutions and technologies to accommodate the digital transformation age. However, the differences between the security and A/V disciplines are far enough apart that the growth of convergence in these two areas has been slower.
Historically, A/V and security have not had much crossover in their businesses due to several factors. Both industries have had robust economies for many years and there simply wasn’t the need for one to explore the other. In the commercial space, the security integrator typically works with the property management company or building owner while the A/V integrator focuses on the individual tenants.
2020 catapulted physical security to the front of the line for all technology solutions providers and industries. Deemed “essential,” the security industry had a brighter spotlight, but the industry experienced its own set of headwinds resulting from the 2020 COVID-19 economic hit. According to the Security Industry Association (SIA), the security industry outlook is turning favorably based on the Security Market Index. An index above 50 indicates that conditions within the industry are largely positive and that security professionals are predominantly confident in their business outlooks.
The 2020 COVID-19 experience encouraged end-users to re-think their needs resulting in technology integrators having to diversify solutions. The reality of business as usual was turned upside down and businesses witnessed projects canceled and new work put on hold or delayed. The need for universal safety protocols in both public and private spaces of buildings created a unique environment where technology integrators were trying to solve the same problems.
The demand shift from end-users came in the forms of thermal scanning, command and control centers, crowd intelligence and remote monitoring. These different offerings were easy to adapt for some but left others trying to wrap their heads around how to pivot and change, or wondering if this trend will fizzle and fade.
Peeling back the layers of A/V and physical security, what are the commonalities? This may be oversimplified, but the top three operational similarities boil down to:
- Solutions are installed systems that live on customer premises throughout the world
- For the most part, technologies are low voltage cabling with a head-end and some endpoints
- The sales, engineering and operations processes are largely the same (with a few differences) and the result is a system that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year
At times, the customer contact in an organization is different for security and A/V professionals. Many tenants within professional buildings are requiring temperature scanning. Regardless of who the customer contact is, the tenant or building owner, this crossover opportunity brings the technologies of temperature scanning devices, digital signage, professional furniture and other A/V related products together. The demand for these solutions may increase as corporations around the world begin their “return to office” plans.
Command and Control Centers
Command and control centers historically had a clear delineation between A/V and security. A/V would cover the panels, controls, furniture, lighting, etc., while security would provide content from their servers. The delineation is blurring as both “ends” bend toward the middle and security is no longer providing most of the content. New systems are being displayed in centers that are not necessarily related to either security or A/V, such as mapping, social media news feeds, custom applications specific to the client or broadcast news feeds.
The demand for these centers increases as the number of video feed sources increases. What used to be state and local government requirements are now branching out into various corporate and other campus verticals.
Crowd intelligence has been an emerging technology for several years. As new artificial intelligence (AI) protocols and algorithms are developed (many specifically related to COVID-19) the pace of development has increased dramatically. Most states in the US have specific rules in place for capacity in hotels, restaurants, gyms, houses of worship, etc. As health and safety levels change, so do the capacity limitations within workspaces, restaurants, bars and other venues. New crowd intelligence platforms are able to adjust and adapt to these changes and provide real-time alerts to both occupants and system managers.
Often, crowd intelligence systems may need to be monitored in real-time. Remote video monitoring centers or on-premises command centers have the ability to monitor and interact with locations around the world. Two-way audio is utilized to communicate directly with the remote locations, providing critical and time-sensitive instructions.
These are just a few examples of the diversification of disciplines occurring within the A/V, IT and physical security industries. This is important as today’s customers are used to increasingly sophisticated, yet simple interactions with technology. They are demanding a unified and simplified user experience that gives them more control yet remains easy to use. Technology solutions providers are uniquely positioned to provide these solutions.