A must-attend event for practising professionals operating within the electronic fire safety and security industries was the Euralarm Symposium 2016, which took place on 9 May in Lisbon, Portugal. The day focused on challenges and opportunities for businesses due to the impact of new technological developments.
Each year, the Euralarm Symposium examines state-of-the-art developments in a business area of particular interest to the European electronic fire safety and security industries. This year was no exception, with topics discussed ranging from the influence of Building Information Modelling (BIM) on building conception and maintenance through to the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) as an enabler for safety and security products and its consequences in terms of cyber security.
The event demonstrated the potential business and regulatory impacts of these new technological trends on the industry, and on the safety and security of European citizens in general.
BIM: Redesign of building processes leaves open questions
The subject of BIM, a new process set to revolutionise the construction industry, was presented by António Frade Pina (founder of Concepsys BIM) and Alan Baikie, managing director at BIMObject UK. Frade Pina described BIM as “not a software but […] a collaborative platform that consists of a 3D model of a building with information in it.” He gave the example of a door as a BIM object where, beyond design and architectural details, information on the door’s fire resistance is also provided.
Noting the novelty of the technology behind BIM, Frade Pina mentioned that it’s already widespread in many countries (including the UK).
British BIM expert Alan Baikie underlined that there’s no current definition of what it is to be “BIM compliant”, but pointed the audience towards a document published last month by the BIM Task Group, which is a UK Government initiative. Baikie mentioned that the publication has received a very good reception from CEN, the Brussels-based European Committee for Standardisation.
Among the advantages BIM offers to the electronic safety and security industries, speakers mentioned the potential of BIM as a marketing tool, its capacity to allow better system design while better planning for potential problems during construction and saving on future maintenance costs.
An open debate involving members of the audience revealed the industry’s fundamental questions about BIM, a topic which Euralarm will be closely monitoring in the coming years.
Questions on European harmonisation, the shift on early project planning that BIM implies and the existence of several competing BIM platforms emanated from attendees at the Symposium.
IoT: Connected safety and security devices bring opportunities and threats
Theresa Bui Revon, head of product marketing for the Cisco IoT Cloud for Enterprises, presented Case Studies from four US companies who have developed their safety and security offer thanks to the possibilities unleashed over the past decade by the IoT and cloud computing.
She noted that safety and security represent about 20% of all connected devices, and that this is one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of device proliferation.
“For security companies,” urged Bui Revon, “the IoT offers an opportunity to develop the service aspect of their business” and “to go from offering one service to several services in different areas.”
Quoting IBM’s Paul Ionescu, cyber security expert Nick Podd stated: “If compromised, smart building devices could have a profound impact on our physical surroundings and allow a malicious actor to cause damage without any physical access to the building.”
With the help of real-life examples, Podd demonstrated that cyber security is a key issue within the manufacturing and installation processes and proposed a few solutions.
He urged the electronic safety and security industries to implement “security by design” in its connected devices, rather than to “graft on” cyber security measures as an afterthought.
New challenges for Euralarm and businesses
Roger de Grave from Belgian SME De Grave Electro, a provider of electronic safety and security solutions, reacted to the debates on the IoT and cyber security.
“Frankly,” he stated, “I was surprised by the reports provided during the Symposium about recent developments in this area. It was an eye opener in terms of the opportunities opened to companies like mine in relation to business, even though the demonstration of existing issues with cyber security has tempered my excitement.”
Lance Rütimann of Siemens (Euralarm’s chairman for advocacy and organiser of the 2016 Symposium) commented: “When choosing the topics for the Euralarm Symposium 2016, it was BIM, the IoT and cyber security that clearly stood out. These topics are changing how the fire safety and security industries provide products, systems and services as well as interact with the diverse stakeholders during and after a project.”
Rütimann continued: “The presentations from our speakers and the panel discussion made it crystal clear that these industries must engage now in such developments. I sincerely hope that the sense of urgency was understood. Euralarm will need to discuss how it could provide some form of guidance on BIM, the IoT and cyber security with their challenges and opportunities they pose.”
*The 2017 Euralarm Symposium will take place in London next May
Euralarm represents the electronic fire and security industry, providing leadership and expertise for industry, market, policy-makers and standards bodies.
Its members make society safer and secure through systems and services for fire detection, intrusion detection, access control, video monitoring and alarm transmission.
Founded in 1970, Euralarm represents over 5,000 companies within the fire safety and security industry valued at €67 billion. Euralarm members are both national associations and individual companies from across Europe.