Coming of Age and Coming Together

Published: 2024-04-02Modified: 2024-04-02

I may be a couple months late to the party, but I wanted to share my two cents about what I call “coming of age and coming together” in commercial AV and security, which were heretofore (mostly) distinct industries. Of course, I will include a bit of history….

Back before the turn of the century, commercial AV was a standalone industry and participants were happy and secure (pun intended!) simply to be there. IT was in its toddler phase, and many experts thought “never the twain shall meet.” It didn’t take long — although, in this writer’s opinion, longer than it should have taken — for AV and IT to converge. (And, before you say it, yes, there are still laggards who do not get that they have converged.)

The point is that the only constant is change. Technologies move forward, embrace one another and, eventually, converge. So it is with commercial AV, IT and security.

Distinct and Standalone 

In the distance, I can hear the voices saying that these are all distinct and standalone. They might in fact be happy with that distinction. To a certain extent, people who say that are right. Each of these technologies and integration practices have unique aspects to them, but they are converging into what some call “smart buildings.” I prefer breaking it down even further and addressing them as “smart systems.”

Allow me to recount my own AV experience going back to the 1980s. When asked what we did for a living, I would say that we do AV systems design and integration. When a questioning look appeared on the asker’s face, I would add that we take disparate technologies and design them into a system that works seamlessly as one. That definition worked — sort of. Keep in mind that this is what we said back in the 1980s, and this is still what we do today. What has changed is the number of “tools in the toolbox” that are at our disposal. And, as every craftsperson will tell you, using the proper tool for the job is a necessity to get the job done and to achieve the right outcome.

The toolbox was first expanded with AV and IT as technologies that were symbiotic. Merriam-Webster defines “symbiotic” as follows: “characterized by or being close, cooperative or interdependent.” This is where security fits in with AV and IT. As an overall concept (hardware and software), it fits the definition in smart buildings and smart systems. It is standalone, but it’s also “close, cooperative or interdependent.”

Related: Perception is Reality: Reflections from Sales Pros on 2023

A Feeling of Security

With IoT and the expansion of connectivity across devices, security in all its forms takes on a new meaning. A feeling of security is a sense of being safe and free from worry. In our world of communication, it encompasses physical and data accessibility and protection. On the physical side, security refers to all the measures that are taken to protect a place or ensure that only people with permission enter or leave it. On the data side, it is similar, but you need to substitute data and/or information instead.

Security may reside on totally separate systems to ensure full security coverage, or it may be part of an overall smart systems approach that “touches” all other systems in a smart building. Building security exists at varying levels. It may involve both external and internal applications. It may be as simple as a camera monitoring a door; conversely, it could be as complex as retinal scanning to enter a space. There is IT security, and this can drill down to AV security. IT security has its own levels — from a basic firewall that protects internals from external threats to much more granular protection, allowing only select people to access certain information with passwords.

The Common Denominator

The common denominator is systems design. AV, IT and security all touch one another. At one or more levels, they are symbiotic. Some companies will specialize in a given area, but, increasingly, companies will “dip” into other symbiotic areas. A security firm could do some AV and IT; just as easily, an IT firm may do some AV and security. What determines who does what is open to discussion and can be application specific. But we do know that convergence and change are upon us.

Bottom line: AV, IT and security are sure to come together at an increasing rate.

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