Exclusive: Why systems integrators should check into hotels


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Jason Burrows, Sales Director, IDIS America examines the business opportunities that can be found in the hospitality sector.

The hospitality sector, in general and the hotel industry, in particular, were hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns and an abrupt halt to travel plans all but bankrupt the sector, costing millions of dollars in lost revenues. Thankfully, the spring and summer of 2021 saw a resurgence in US travel, when many Americans, eager to break out of their cocoons, once again started packing their bags.

The good news continues, as Statista is predicting an annual growth rate (CAGR 2021-2026) of 16.63%, for hotels, resulting in a projected market volume of US$117,865 million by 2026. Indeed, business travellers and tourists alike are checking in to hotels, once again. Savvy systems integrators should, as well, because opportunities to provide security upgrades and enhanced video surveillance solutions are ripe for the picking.

Residuals of the pandemic have left many hotel guests demanding improved health & safety where they lodge, catalysing hotels to up their operational agility and investments in security solutions to, in turn, up their resilience to bounce back and thrive. Regardless of whether they’re planning a stay at a high-end luxury hotel or a short-stay travel hotel, guests are seeking out properties that are safe and where they’ll feel protected.

Why video is the best security amenity hotels can offer

While access control, intruder systems and fire systems are integral to a hotel’s overall security strategy, video surveillance technology leads the pack as one of the most powerful and flexible tools to counter their safety and security vulnerabilities.

Today’s technology convergence and integration capabilities with other core security systems are enabling more effective centralised monitoring and control and this spells good news for both independent single location hotels and branded chains with multiple locations, as well.

So why exactly do well-designed and implemented video systems rank among the most effective management tools available to hotels? Simply stated, they give hotel operators and their on-site management teams the video intelligence that’s instrumental in delivering optimised service and security efficiency, thanks to the extended visibility and control over all aspects of their operations that enhanced video surveillance provides.

Why video tech makes dollars and sense for hotels

Today, quality surveillance solutions are affordable to install, maintain and offer a low total cost of ownership. They can be adapted to every location thanks to a choice of flexible video management software and a range of cameras that will suit each site’s aesthetic requirements and guest expectations, maintaining the desired balance between a hospitable welcome and assurance of security. And dynamic privacy masking tools allow video to be retrieved for evidential purposes, while protecting and respecting the identities of guests, to ensure compliance with local and international regulations.

The role of security managers in the hospitality sector is much broader today than it ever was before. They need to focus not only on preventing theft and protecting property, but must also plan for threats ranging from fraud and cybersecurity to major disruption to business caused by terrorism, gun violence, civil disorder, supply chain pressures, staff retention, extreme weather events and recurring pandemics.

The value of AI-enabled video analytics

In hospitality settings, video – especially systems with AI-enabled analytics designed in and continually updated – is starting to give a competitive edge. For businesses to stay current and leverage the benefits of deploying the latest generation video technology, it’s important to understand their full value. For competitive hotels, video is no longer used only to reduce costs and cut risks, but also to improve service and efficiency in a way that is adding competitive value to the customer offering.

Camera performance is enhanced by analytics functions – including active tampering alarms, motion detection, auto-track and trip zones – and analytics are becoming increasingly accurate, useful and affordable thanks to developments in deep learning algorithms. AI-powered analytics will now reliably spot activity including loitering in target areas and give early warning of potentially suspicious behaviour, enabling faster detection verification and response.

For those looking to reduce technology investment costs, it is still possible to retain legacy cameras and re-use existing infrastructure, but this is best done by using the foundation of a video management software (VMS) from a manufacturer with a proven ability to integrate third-party tech without the associated price tag of high annual licensing agreements and costly device connection costs.

By taking this approach, it’s possible to upgrade to the latest capabilities without waste; the likelihood of compatibility issues is reduced and a clear line of technology accountability and support – via both the vendor and systems integrator – is maintained. It’s important to keep in mind that the more suppliers there are in a chain, the harder it is to resolve issues – corner-cutting often leads to higher costs.

Don’t forget to factor in legislation and cybersecurity

Compliance and cybersecurity can pose some serious risks that should not be overlooked. It’s critically important to not only comply with current legislation but to also look ahead to the possible impact of future regulations and standards designed to minimise cyber risks. This was seen particularly around the introduction of tighter NDAA regulations and the signing of the Secure Equipment Act that will require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ban the authorisation of new Chinese tech and highlights the wisdom of using NDAA-compliant equipment – including HD and UHD cameras, NVRs and PC servers – with trusted chipsets.

To protect against hacking – and the risks of malicious actors gaining access to camera feeds, or IT networks – integrators should look for video systems with multi-layered protections covering access, transmission and the integrity of recorded footage. Look for encryptions that don’t impact performance, multi-factor authentication and firewalls that prevent unauthorised access.

Purchasing points

With the sector under financial and resourcing pressure, it’s vital to avoid technologies with unfair pricing structures and ongoing costs such as license fees. When comparing options, these are points for every buyer to check:

  • Understand how to calculate TCO (total cost of ownership)
  • Verify ongoing expenditure beyond the upfront hardware costs and initial installation such as license agreements and device connection fees
  • Ask about the duration of warranties against equipment failure
  • Ask what technical support is provided by the manufacturer long-term, how often cameras and other devices are subject to discontinuation and if vendors offer forward and backward compatibility
  • Understand any disruption to business operations during installation and maintenance, as downtime could result in business continuity issues or have a negative impact on the guest experience
  • Ensure the solution is futureproof with the ability to adopt new technologies such as intelligent video analytics, federation services, popular databases, integration with third-party cameras and other systems, or ease of connection to a rapidly expanding range of IoT devices.

For more information, visit: www.idisglobal.com

This article was originally published in the March 2022 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital edition here.

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