Zug, Switzerland, May 2016 – A must-attend event for the electronic fire safety and security industries was the Euralarm Symposium 2016 that took place on May 9th in Lisbon, Portugal. It focused on challenges and opportunities for businesses due to the impact of new technological developments to our sector.
The Euralarm Symposium looks at 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, as topics discussed ranged from the influence of Building Information Modelling (BIM) on building conception and maintenance, 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.
Beyond buzzwords, 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.
BIM - A redesign of building processes leaves open questions
Building Information Modelling, a new process set to revolutionise the construction industry, was presented by António Frade Pina, founder of ConcepsysBIM and Alan Baikie, Managing director of BIMObject UK. Mr. 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, Mr. Frade Pina mentioned that it is already widespread in many countries.
British BIM expert Alan Baikie underlined that there is 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, a UK Government initiative. He mentioned that it received a very good reception from CEN, the Brussels-based European Committee for Standardisation.
Amongst 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. But an open debate with 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 came from the floor.
IoT - Connected safety and security devices bring both opportunities and threats
Theresa Bui Revon, Head of Product Marketing for the Cisco Internet of Things cloud for Enterprises, presented case studies from four US companies, which developed their safety and security offer thanks to the possibilities unleashed over the past decade by the Internet of Things and Cloud computing. She noted that safety and security represent today about 20% of all connected devices and it is one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of device proliferation. For security companies, “Internet of Things 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 that “if compromised, smart-building devices could have a profound impact on our physical surroundings and could allow a malicious actor to cause damage without any physical access to the building.” With help of real-life examples, he demonstrated that Cyber Security is a key issue within the manufacturing and installation processes and proposed a few solutions. Mr. Podd 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 Internet of Things and Cyber Security: “Frankly 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 terms of business, even though the demonstration of existing issues with cyber security has tempered my excitement.”
Euralarm Chairman for Advocacy and organiser of the event Lance Rütimann, from Siemens, said “When choosing the topics for the Euralarm Symposium 2016, it was BIM, Internet of Things and Cyber Security that clearly stood out. These topics are changing how fire safety and security industries provide products, systems and services as well as interact with the diverse stakeholders during and after a project. The presentations from our speakers and the following panel discussion made it crystal clear, that the industries must engage now in these 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, IoT and Cyber Security with their challenges and opportunities.”
In 2017, the Euralarm Symposium will take place in London in May.