GE Security Zeroes In On Integrators

The Boca Raton, Fla.-based physical security vendor aims to partner with system integrators that could craft IP-based solutions tying its hardware--including metal detectors, body scanners, surveillance cameras, drug and explosives detectors, and environmental sensors--into customer networks and databases.

At this week's GE Security Conference and Workshop in Hollywood, Fla., company executives said integrators could help GE Security capitalize on new opportunities arising in venues such as airports, car dealers, ports and water facilities, which face increased vulnerability to threats ranging from suicide bombers to biological attacks. The goal is to build up a base of integrator partners to create franchises around those market segments, said Greg Burge, president of GE Infrastructure, Security and Networked Solutions at GE Security.

Plans call for the first bundled security solution to come out in 2006, said Jim Paulson, general manager of intrusion and access products at GE Security. Also in the works are improved service and support for current integrator partners as well as a new program that certifies network-centric, enterprise-level VARs to to offer GE Security bundles, said George Martinez, the vendor's director of product management.

Two key factors are driving GE Security's channel effort: The rise of IP-based technology that can converge physical security devices with networks and back-end IT systems, and the need to deploy advanced physical security amid the global war on terror, company executives said.

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"We recognized that we needed to shift from a product focus to a solutions focus--more on vertical solutions and less on specific products," Paulson said.

What's more, bringing GE Security's product portfolio under a common, IP-based management framework will enable more partners to get their hands around the technology and bid for opportunities they previously would have had little chance of winning, Martinez said.

Unlike many IT products, GE Security's product line offers integrators high margins, said John Humphris, a security integrator at MGA Electronic Security, a GE partner in Victoria, Australia. MGA couples GE hardware--whose margins are in the 25 percent range--with other service and support, such as ongoing security system calibration and things as simple as lens cleaning on surveillance cameras, Humphris said.

To help drive more hardware, service and support revenue for partners, GE Security plans more software customization for its recently released SymSuite surveillance products, said Rob Siegel, general manager for video solutions at the vendor. SymSuite offers IP-based digital cameras, codecs, recorders and management software, and the company plans to unveil WaveJet technology that will "double the storage capacity of all our video recorders immediately," Siegel said.

Also under development at GE Security are the following:

&#149 Tighter integration of FireShield fire and smoke detection products into a common network-management framework, which will enable security administrators to fashion mechanisms that trigger other security systems in the event of a fire, such as door locks, HVAC systems, perimeter surveillance and data backup, Paulson said.

&#149 Advanced sensor products that integrate with HVAC systems to detect and respond to thermal changes in an environment and essentially "see" heat before the temperature can reach a flash point, said Dan Smytka, president of GE infrastructure, security and engineered systems.

&#149 Wireless mesh networking technologies for law enforcement that can better track cars during a high-speed chase and human threat-detection systems--using GE Security's Millimeter-Wave/VideoIQ body scanning and recognition technology--that can flag gun- or explosives-toting individuals and lock onto them, said Bill McGann, CTO of infrastructure and security at GE Security.

&#149 CheckPoint CTX systems that leverage CAT scan health-care technology to sharpen airport luggage scanners and the ION Track StreetLab, which checks the air for biological threats, McGann said.

GE Security partner Chris Gustafson, director of operations at RD Systems, said the Tustin, Calif.-based security integrator has won several million-dollar security jobs based on GE technology. The average deployment runs around $400,000, he added.

Still, GE Security could speed its support response, especially when integrators in the field need questions answered, according to Gustafson. "When you are setting up a project, you almost always encounter something that's totally new, and we'd like to see faster response," he said.

Burge said GE Security is working to improve partner services and, to that end, is creating Web portals and other tools to help speed support response times.