Why the Scottish physical security industry is embracing unified systems

Q&A with Craig Smith, Regional Sales Manager for Scotland at Genetec 

With over 30 years in the business, and 10 years spent covering the territory for Genetec technology partner Hanwha, Craig Smith has witnessed the ongoing improvements to national and local IT infrastructure that underpin Scottish organizations’ successful security and operations.  

We spoke with the new Genetec Regional Sales Manager for Scotland to get his opinion on some of the latest industry developments. 

How has the security landscape changed in recent years?  

Here in Scotland, we’re fortunate to host several large-scale enterprises. For example, we have a proud history of being a base for leading players in diverse fields such as oil and gas, manufacturing, transportation, energy, and more.  

A big trend within these organizations over the past five years has been mergers and consolidation, as they position themselves to remain successful and competitive on an industrial scale.

Such enterprises are responsible for protecting and maintaining multiple sites, and often have remote infrastructure that can be difficult to access. We have a low population density after all! They’re therefore keen on avoiding the difficulties, costs, and lack of visibility that results from having to secure and maintain multiple disparate systems.  

As a result, we’ve seen a big migration away from traditional analog systems, towards fully integrated IP solutions that offer greater visibility, oversight, and control. However, many operators still have siloed systems that require a high level of administration, expensive ongoing support, and training.

Unifying these systems and presenting them via a single pane of glass through Genetec Security Center is an investment that quickly pays off.  

What challenges are operators now facing? 

One of the main ongoing challenges is remaining flexible and continuing to evolve your systems in a way that allows you to extract the maximum value. Across the global Genetec customer base, there are many great examples of creative ways that the platform is being used to solve challenges, many of which extend well beyond security and into operations and actionable insights for the business. 

It can be difficult to know where to focus or which combination of technologies to deploy to achieve the best returns. Especially as machine learning applications mature and enable more data to be captured, combined, and interpreted in new ways.

It’s this chance to be able to act as a trusted advisor and to navigate our end users and channel partners through the myriad of options, that make me so excited to join the company.  

Can Scottish organizations benefit from solutions that are being marketed as a response to the pandemic? 

The picture here is mixed. I’m a big fan of occupancy management solutions that make it simpler for operators to implement, refine, and enforce their own COVID-19 policies and processes.

The unification of video surveillance and access control systems, in particular, gives users many options to use analytics, door readers, and other sensors to help maintain safety and regulatory compliance for their employees and visitors.  

On the other hand, I’m certainly not a supporter of the “fever-detection” systems that are being promoted as a silver bullet. I’ve seen some examples of thermal cameras being marketed far beyond their actual capabilities.

As an industry, I feel it’s important we push back on this and ensure performance matches up with expectations. 

Do you see an issue with high-risk camera vendors in Scotland and the rest of the UK, despite their blacklisted status in the US? 

Unfortunately, the UK as a whole has been slow to respond to the wider cybersecurity implications of the technology it deploys. It’s a factor in the decision-making process that has too often been overlooked in favor of an approach that seeks to obtain the most advanced features, set at the lowest possible price. 

This has led to the commodification of the camera market as a whole, emphasizing the importance of having the right software.

System Integrators must ensure they’re bringing the right technology to the table, which allows them to demonstrate innovation in solving customer issues. It makes them much less exposed to price-based tendering, adds value to the process, and ensures they can differentiate their offerings over their rivals.  

Looking to unify your security infrastructure?

Learn how Security Center can help transform your security operations. 

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