Open platform solutions employ components from technology partners that create a comprehensive solution to meet each customer's evolving needs
The landscape for end-to-end solutions is not designed to address the
long-term evolving needs of customers

The video surveillance industry has reached an important crossroads where manufacturers can choose to continue in one direction that solely focuses on their own products and profits, or to move forward in another direction that emphasises building partnerships for the greater good of the community.

On one side lies the short road of end-to-end, proprietary solutions from companies looking to protect their own interests by locking customers into their products alone. This road dead ends fast when a customer wants to add new functionality to their system, and it has not yet been created by their single vendor (and may never be). This limited short-term way of doing business puts existing investments in jeopardy and places integrators in a very awkward situation.

On the other side lies an entire network of roads that stretch far and wide with open platform solutions designed by a collaborating community. This choice is filled with components from technology partners that work together to create a comprehensive solution to meet each customers’ evolving needs. At any time, solutions can be upgraded or added as partners develop new technologies and functionality while maintaining existing investments.

The industry is at this important crossroads and Milestone Systems is forging confidently forward to continue blazing the trail of open platform solutions. We are taking the next step in this evolution by moving from the open platform company to the open platform community.

Milestone’s Open Platform Community Serves Customers Best

With the open platform community, we’re putting the focus on partnerships first. This move from an open company to an open community can best be illustrated by comparison with a small town. Envision a town center with a courthouse and city hall, a bank, doctor’s office and school, the local market – all anchored by Main Street where the community gathers to do business. As time passes, small towns grow into cities. But in order to accommodate the growth and thrive, two key elements must be in place: leadership and critical infrastructure.

The landscape for end-to-end
solutions is not designed to
address the long-term evolving
needs of customers. It’s designed
to address the sale of the day

First, it takes leadership with a vision for growth to move forward. Second, it takes critical infrastructure—water, power, electricity, bridges, streets and highways—to grow and scale out a town. With leadership and critical infrastructure in place, the small town can grow and welcome more people, new industries and jobs over time.

At Milestone, we’re building our global community with solid leadership and a commitment to expand the infrastructure needed to underpin the open platform scalability. From a technology perspective, the critical infrastructure is having an application programming interface (API) built into our software that is purpose-built for communication with third-party solutions. It’s also the software development kit (SDK), the toolbox of resources, that allows developers to create third-party solutions.

By virtue of moving from the open platform company to the open platform community, we are doubling down on the critical infrastructure that reinforces the community. We’re putting our SDK on the roadmap and investing more resources toward building more tools needed for third parties to have an easier, more streamlined way to create integrations with our products. This will greatly accelerate development in the overall marketplace, increasing the size and well-being of the community.

Additionally, a Milestone Developers Forum will act as a fulcrum for technical stakeholders to openly share their successes and learnings as a way to help move innovation forward and expand value for the customers. We’re working to build an even stronger community of open platform development partners, to highlight and recognize their progress, and dedicate resources to further develop new opportunities together.

The Milestone Developers Forum will act as a fulcrum for technical stakeholders to openly share their successes and learnings as a way to help move innovation forward and expand value for the customers
Milestone are building a global community to expand the infrastructure needed to support the open platform scalability

Partnerships Move The Industry Forward

The market and customer requirements can change drastically over time. These evolving needs necessitate new innovations and technologies that allow customers to implement additional functionality in a way that maintains their existing investment.

This is best accomplished with open platform technology, where APIs, SDKs and people in an organization are dedicated to working with third parties to encourage development and build up the community. Certification that tests and documents solutions from multiple manufacturers further reassures customers and integrators that the components of their customized solutions will work together.

There are many companies that claim to provide an open platform, but at Milestone we prove our commitment in the way we embrace and enable third party partnerships in the community. Today there are integrations with 152 different brands of camera manufacturers with device driver support at 5,000 and growing - and only one of those is the ONVIF driver, which supports many thousands more.

There are over 360 known solutions integrated with the Milestone XProtect platform today and 170 of those are documented on the Solutions Finder for commercial use. One year ago there were just over 100 on the Solutions Finder — evidence the community is growing quickly. As of Q1, 2016, 45 solutions have been tested and certified with documentation for best practice in operation, with 35 more in the certification queue.

We are working to scale this certification faster as it’s clear there is demand in the marketplace: we have more than 1,600 enrolled solution partners and over 5,500 SDK downloads. One year ago there were only 3,500 downloads, meaning our SDK has been downloaded 2,000 times in the last 12 months.

As we look at innovation in the market, we see amazing things happening. So many unique and powerful integrations are presented on our website: laser, radar, sound, traffic analysis, license plate recognition, vehicle brand ID, gunshot locator, live incident tracking, retail analytics, video synopsis and more coming constantly. All of these new innovations are available to add on to existing Milestone video deployments to meet the unique needs of individual customers and facilitate their needs of tomorrow.

End-to-end solutions are inherently limited because a manufacturer can only deliver so much technology on their own
Open platform communities allow for collaboration and innovation by working and integrating with third parties

Why Open Solutions Win

Imagine if the technology landscape was filled with manufacturers who believed only in end-to-end solutions. What if their sole focus was putting together a VMS, cameras, access control and analytics, to solve the end customer needs today, but not thinking much about how their needs will evolve?

The landscape for end-to-end solutions is not designed to address the long-term evolving needs of customers. It’s designed to address the sale of the day. End-to-end solutions are inherently limited because a manufacturer can only deliver so much technology on their own.

These short-term solutions create a vulnerability for the customer and for the system integrator that deploys an end-to-end solution. The integrator is put in a particularly perilous position when they deploy an end-to-end solution because it is unknown whether the solution will be able to evolve with the customer’s needs, whether it’s next year or ten years down the road.

Meanwhile, open solutions built within a wide and diverse community of partners are a win-win for customers and integrators alike. Open solutions and partnerships create great long-term value for customers. In turn, integrators can feel confident about the solution they are selling and installing, without fear of future repercussions.

Technology is quickly evolving. The Milestone community’s ability to deliver innovation to the marketplace and address customer demands is key to maintaining investments for the long term. End-to-end solutions are not well suited to do this because they are a short-sighted business approach that’s really about the manufacturer first. The community model is about putting the customers and the partnerships first. End-to-end is truly a dead end.

The open platform community is a philosophy we live by. Putting partnerships first is a mentality, and it has always been a key part of our business model.

The road to the future is open — let’s go there together.

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Virtual Worlds Disrupt Building Security & Facility Management
Virtual Worlds Disrupt Building Security & Facility Management

From satellite imagery to street views to indoor mapping, technology has disrupted our past world. This has left us dependent upon new ways to visualise large spaces. This new world has brought many benefits and risks. But what does that mean for the security professional or facility manager today and what technologies can be used to secure buildings and improve facility operations? A Brief History Of 3D Technology Starting May 5, 2007 (inception 2001), Google rolled out Google Street View to augment Google Maps and Google Earth; documenting some of the most remote places on earth using a mix of sensors (Lidar/GSP/Radar/Imagery). The mission to map the world moved indoors May 2011 with Google Business Photos mapping indoor spaces with low cost 360° cameras under the Trusted Photographer program. In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialization, expensive hardware and unavailable computing power With the growth of 3D laser scanning from 2007 onwards, the professional world embraced scanning as effective method to create digitised building information modeling (BIM), growing fast since 2007. BIM from scanning brought tremendous control, time and cost savings through the design and construction process, where As-Built documentation offered an incredible way to manage large existing facilities while reducing costly site visits. In the earlier days, 3D scanning required a high level of specialization, expensive hardware, unavailable computing power and knowledge of architectural software. Innovation during the past 8 year, have driven ease of use and lower pricing to encourage market adoption. Major investments in UAVs in 2014 and the commercial emergence of 360° photography began a new wave of adoption. While 3D scanners still range from $20K – $100K USD, UAVs can be purchased for under $1K USD and 360° cameras for as low as $100. UAVs and 360° cameras also offer a way to document large spaces in a fraction of the time of terrestrial laser scanners with very little technical knowledge.  Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors The result over the past 10+ years of technology advancement has been a faster, lower cost, more accessible way to create virtual spaces. However, the technology advances carry a major risk of misuse by bad actors at the same time. What was once reserved to military personal is now available publicly. Access to building plans, satellite imagery, Google Street View, indoor virtual tours and aerial drone reconnaissance prove effective tools to bad actors. Al Qaeda terror threats using Google Maps, 2007 UK troops hit by terrorists in Basra, 2008 Mumbai India attacks, 2016 Pakistan Pathankot airbase attacks, ISIS attacks in Syria using UAVs, well-planned US school shootings and high casualty attacks show evidence that bad actors frequently leverage these mapping technologies to plan their attacks. The weaponization of UAVs is of particular concern to the Department of Homeland Security: "We continue to face one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organizations exploit the internet to inspire, enable or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist acts."   Example comparison of reality capture on the left of BIM on the right. A $250 USD 360° camera was used for the capture in VisualPlan.net software What Does This Mean For The Security Or Facility Manager Today? An often overlooked, but critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing. Most facilities managers today work with outdated 2D plan diagrams or old blueprints which are difficult to update and share.Critical vulnerability to security and facility managers is relying on inaccurate drawing Renovations, design changes and office layout changes leave facility managers with the wrong information, and even worse is that the wrong information is shared with outside consultants who plan major projects around outdated or wrong plans. 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UAVs have been used for transport and delivery of dangerous goods, delivering weapons and contraband and have the ability to be weaponised to carry a payload.Investigating reality capture to help with accurate planning and visualization of facilities is well worth the time The Federal Aviation Administration has prevented UAV flights over large event stadiums, prisons and coast guard bases based on the risks they could potentially pose, but waivers do exist. Be aware that it is illegal today to use most of these technologies and downing a UAV, if you are not Department of Justice or Homeland Security, could carry hefty penalties. Facility managers must have a way to survey and monitor their buildings for threats and report suspicious UAV behaviours immediately to authorities. At the same time, it’s critical to identify various potential risks to your wider team to ensure awareness and reporting is handled effectively. Having a procedure on how identify and report is important. 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What’s New In U.S. Government Procurement For Security?
What’s New In U.S. Government Procurement For Security?

Last week, the Schedule 84 Suppliers Research Panel participated in reviewing the 2018 contracting year with the GSA Schedule 84 leadership team. Our panel group consists of experienced contractors and consultants meeting for a monthly conference call. Schedule 84 is the GSA Schedules Contract for Total Solutions for Law Enforcement, Security, Facilities Management, Fire and Rescue. Our opinions are part of a research program to provide valuable feedback to the GSA Schedule 84 program and on to the GSA central office. The director of GSA Region 7 Schedules Program, the Schedule 84 Branch Chief and the Category Manager Subject Matter Expert who manages our suppliers' panel gave us their full attention as we discussed the successes of the program, hot topics, problems and the future. We determined 2018 under the Schedule 84 team to be a year of innovative thoughts, cooperative effort and renewed enthusiasm Innovative Review Team We determined 2018 under the Schedule 84 team to be a year of innovative thoughts, cooperative effort, renewed enthusiasm and productive changes building upon the successes of 2017. There was high praise for the accessibility to the Schedule 84 staff. Their consistent quick response to questions and concerns, thinking outside the box and supporting the program by partnering with their contractors was much appreciated. There has been a renewed spirit of partnering to cooperatively bring the best to agency customers. It seems to be working as per the Center Director sales are growing for GSA Schedule 84. Advocating For The Security Industry In my experience, business development starts with the Administrator from Region 7 in Ft. Worth, TX. As the annual Schedule 84 Industry Day at the SSAC begins he is shaking every hand and passing out his cards looking folks right in the eye asking, “how can I help you?” They have the best practices and most organized paperwork. The SSAC director has chosen well in her staff and is hands-on in every endeavor to direct things along when challenges occur or to improve the program. The new 84 Branch Chief is knowledgeable, innovative, tireless and has been heavily involved in advocating for the security industry It continues with the center’s CASE Manager encouraging the contractors at events, visiting agency customers and promoting the GSA Schedules Program by helping coordinate the partnering. 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We presented from an industry perspective important fact on PACS system requirements, procurement planning, providing information on resources and further educating with panel discussions, individual presentations and amusing skits to over 300 Government agency staff and acquisition specialists. You can find some of the unedited recording of the PACS Reverse Industry Day Training on YouTube. Some changes included the creation of a new category of products/services Special Item Number (SIN) for Order Level Materials (OLM) GSA Schedules Program A hot topic about the GSA program for 2018 was also an issue for the prior year. The GSA Schedules Program is a streamlined contracting vehicle incorporating specific Federal Acquisition Regulations for more efficiently purchasing commercial items. Companies may apply per a continuous open season for a 5-year contract with three 5-year options to renew. Contractors are vetted for past performance, corporate experience and financial capability. Products and services are considered for offering to Federal, State and Local customers (for Schedule 84) with pricing that is determined to be fair and reasonable through negotiations with GSA. To make the determination for fair and reasonable pricing GSA carefully reviews the commercial practices of the contractor To make the determination for fair and reasonable pricing GSA carefully reviews the commercial practices of the contractor as well as the competition of identical or similar item pricing. The most vocal complaint of concern from the contractors was regarding the consideration of competitor contractors offering identical items with out-of-date pricing or holding a Letter of Supply not authorized by the manufacturer. 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Valuable Tools For Vendor Training Equally important is the networking, meetings and the exhibits of the contractors. Expos have been discontinued since 2012 but smaller events have been growing as well as online webinar training. Webinars are valuable tools for GSA and vendor training, but they do not take the place of being able to meet your customers face-to-face. GSA online eOffer and eMod program have made processing actions more efficient. Some changes to the programmes may make the presentation of documentation more effective going forward. The GSA online website for viewing the items on the GSA Contract and for purchasing items, GSA Advantage could definitely use an update as it has been basically the same for 20 years. Keep an eye on GSA Interact for the latest happenings with GSA.

Which Segments Are Under-Served In The Physical Security Industry?
Which Segments Are Under-Served In The Physical Security Industry?

Physical security technologies operate successfully in many different markets, but in which markets do they fall short? Physical security is a difficult challenge that can sometime defy the best efforts of manufacturers, integrators and end users. This is especially the case in some of the more problematic markets and applications where even the best technology has to offer may not be good enough, or could it be that the best technology has not been adequately applied? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable to reflect on instances when the industry may fall short: Which segments of the physical security industry are most under-served and why?