My previous two articles discussed the Age of the Internet and the Internet of Things (IOT) and the impacts they have had on Access Control and CCTV systems. It would not be an understatement to say that the technology drift has occurred rather swiftly and not only made these systems more accessible and easier to use, but less expensive as well. From here, it would make perfect sense to transition into Intrusion Alarm Systems and Intercom Systems, but I think I would be passing up an opportunity to discuss the core of the trends, the GUIs (Graphical User Interface).
In layman’s terms, the GUI is the software or application that the operator uses to control the system. Most of the planet’s population has interacted with an GUI at one point or another, from iPhones to PCs and even to kiosk such as ATMs or Blood Pressure Machines at Walgreens.
The specifications of the system matter greatly. Owners and engineers still need a system to perform certain functions and operate in certain ways. However, more and more RFPs are providing details for how they want the GUI to operate rather than the system itself. The human element of it is truly the most crucial part of the equation here; if the system is complex then it just won’t be used effectively. The simple, yet powerful, GUI will always in. The security manager, for example, will opt for a GUI that allows for him or her to pick up an iPad at the end of the day while reclining at home to review footage or set schedules for the upcoming month.
We recently remodeled one of our offices in Alaska. As part of that remodel, it was time to upgrade the alarm system. I assigned the design to one of our new salespeople as an exercise. We met and discussed what I liked about the current system and what I would like to see changed or added. Towards the end of the walk, he wanted to discuss how I envisioned we could interoperate with the system. It struck me that we barely touch the current keypads on the wall because we have our card access system provide the arming and disarming through an interconnect. The discussion had me thinking about how easy it would be to manage this from home, should an alarm occur, if I had access through a robust app on my phone. We reviewed several systems and one floated to the top. The specifications amongst the top three systems we reviewed were almost identical, until it came to the app. Only two of them offered an app for their commercial versions. #1 was only concerned about letting you arm or disarm, period. #2 gave you full access to the keypad, statuses, history, and even user management. There was my winner. Manufacturer #2 put in the time to develop a GUI that makes the system feel powerful as well as easy to use and manage.
The internet has empowered the Security Industry in ways we did not see possible 20 years ago. The IOT injection will continue to develop and form how we go to market, train our technicians, and deploy our security layers for years to come. Many companies (and old-school technicians!) are still resistant to the trend. It needs to be embraced, developed, and fully taken advantage of to help keep our customers comfortable and safe!