Open standards lag, but access control to grow to $2.3 billion in 2013

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas—The drive for open standards in the access control market continues to trail a similar push in video surveillance, potentially limiting growth, but global access-control revenues are still expected to rise from $2.1 billion in 2011 to $2.3 billion by the end of 2013, according to a new report by IMS Research.

IMS said that in most cases the primary benefit of open standards is not to reduce “vendor lock,” in which customers can’t switch to a new supplier because they are dependent on another for its products and services. The main advantage is that the standards allow for easier integration of different systems, the report said.

“Integration with non-security solutions, such as HVAC, will become simpler and more efficient, benefiting not only the security industry but other industries as well,” said Blake Kozak, senior analyst for access control, fire and security at IHS, the parent company of IMS.

IMS said open standards can help overcome integration problems involving software designed for a particular solution and databases that utilize specific schemas, which can make it difficult to use panels from different manufacturers in the same installation.

But the vision is by no means a reality in the access control industry, the report stated. Kozak said that while some vendors are touting open standards between panels and software, other vendors believe such standards may limit the market and hurt companies that only manufacture panels.

“Furthermore, large end users [that] require high-quality and sophisticated integration will probably not choose an open-standards system, but rather a proprietary solution, since it is believed that fully open solutions are more limited in functionality versus proprietary,” Kozak told Security Systems News.

IMS said that despite efforts by the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance and the International Electrotechnical Commission to bring open standards to access control, implementation remains stagnant and questions from many suppliers have been left unanswered. That’s a negative for security installers and integrators, who could benefit from increased adoption of open standards because they open up more possibilities for “plug and play” solutions, Kozak said.

“Additionally, open standards would allow integrators and installers to quickly and efficiently identify which systems can work seamlessly together, since not all vendors will necessarily participate in the open-standards program,” he said.

The report concludes that open standards could bring “a dramatic change for vendors and alter the face of the access control industry as it is known today.” More realistic, however, is that open standards will be offered to vendors as part of a portfolio, with uptake remaining with proprietary or semi-proprietary solutions in the next few years.

“While it is expected that new, proposed standards will be presented in 2013, the access control industry will still lag far behind the video surveillance industry due to the complexity of access control systems,” IMS said.