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Latin America is the lifeline

The security industry changes little. Cameras with new features and applications for IP are the vedettes of a market that is eagerly looking for new niches to maintain profitability.

by Julián Arcila

If something was clearly stated during the latest version of ASIS (Atlanta September 15-17, 2008) is that Latin America seems to be the lifeline, not only for companies that manufacture mass consumer goods, but also for industrial segments, among which we can count electronic security. And it is that in the midst of the winds that seem to bring a recession in the main markets of the world, Latin America still seems not to feel at all (the stock markets began to register serious falls in mid-October) and continues to be an active consumer of this type of technologies.

VENTAS DE SEGURIDAD took advantage of the last edition of the show of the organization that brings together security professionals worldwide to interact with companies that may not be well known in the region, but that may have an interesting technological proposal for Latino consumers. This medium focused on several determining aspects such as the needs that are being detected in the Latino public and the impact that this semi-economic crisis of recent days has had.

Mega pixel cameras, growing market in Latin America

One of these companies that has been in Latin America for some time is Lumenera. Within security, its business is oriented towards the manufacture of megapixel cameras for state-of-the-art segments. With John Recesso, its director of business development for the security markets, we tried to know some of the details of this market in the region.

In the opinion of Recesso, of all the markets in which they are present, the one that has been most affected by the economic decline has been North America, a fact that influenced so that during the year that ends the highest percentage of businesses was located in foreign territories.

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As he noted, Latin America is a market that is increasingly attractive, in addition to having an important quality of projects there. "We're seeing interesting activity in this region both in terms of megapixel cameras and video analytics," he said. It is important to explain that these devices are characterized by their high resolution, which allows large approaches to be made without the image being pixelated or filled with grain. The penetration of this technology in this market tends to increase hand in hand with more information about it and regional integrators more curious to increase their knowledge about new technologies.

Regarding the sales performance in the region, John commented that "Our growth has been minimal in the region, but if we compare this with the fact that in 2007 we were not generating practically any profit what was obtained during 2008 is important. This will continue to evolve as we are currently working on some projects in the region."

It is always thought that these equipment are synonymous with high bandwidth consumption, but in the opinion of Recesso these units allow to configure the characteristics of the equipment to the needs of the client. "If you're looking in standard resolution at 25 frames per second at 720X480 against a 1.4-megapixel camera at 1224X768 with a low frame-per-second rate, the bandwidth is almost equivalent. The bandwidth of the megapixel camera would be a little higher, but that also depends on the configuration of the camera, because you have the possibility to adjust the performance of the product, "he said.

Smooth performance

Digimerge is a manufacturer of digital cameras and recorders for IP. However, they also produce various types of monitors. Among the new elements presented during this edition of ASIS were a mirror-type camera (it looks like a mirror and has reflection, but it is a camera) and a multipurpose screen, which can be used as a PC monitor, television and as a means of visualization in the control room.

Joe Mendoza, regional manager of this company for Southwest California, Nevada and Mexico, made a brief description of the Latino consumer, who he said is still very price-oriented, a situation that also has its risks because a cheap object is usually associated with poor quality and performance. Technically speaking, he pointed out that "customers are much more concerned about knowing in detail the products they acquire. They're very focused on what they're going to buy."

Despite the economic crisis of recent days, Mendoza said that they have not yet been very affected by this situation, although he pointed out that competition is increasingly fierce in Latin American territory, a region in which they have made some kind of presence since the last four years.

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The year of take-off

This season was for Brivo something like its takeoff in Latin America. Although in 2007 there was not much movement in terms of sales, what was achieved this year puts a quite positive point in regard to this company, which during the ASIS show was presenting its new XML interface that any integrator can link to their projects.

As explained by Shawn Gore, its director of distribution and international sales, explained that the economic crisis of recent months has generated a decrease in the sales of its distributors, but that with everything and that they expect that by the end of this year their numbers will grow by 80%.

The prospects of this company for 2009 indicate that it will be the period of the consolidation of the brand in Latin America, after important activities carried out during this year and that included demonstrations in Colombia and Chile.

Specialization of work

Paul Smith is operational manager of DVTel. When this official was consulted about the main trends he had seen in the market, he mainly referred to two aspects: a strong market orientation towards IP-based solutions, but also towards a greater specialization of work, in which end users are taking care of simple tasks such as connecting cameras and so on, but that activities more related to electronics are being delegated to expert hands, and of this he said that it is a trend that will be consolidated in the coming years.

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It is worth saying that DVTel is a company that specializes in the development of security systems based on the IP protocol. Among what they produce can be highlighted the security monitoring software, IP cameras, but they also have an IP access control software; the company has offices in virtually every region of the planet.

According to Smith, the businesses in which this company participates show substantial growth, which allowed to obtain increases of between 30 and 35% in the first quarter of 2008, compared to the same period in 2007.

Despite the above, this official did not ignore the impact that the current economic situation in the United States has had on Latino businesses. "It can be said that some projects have been delayed, but this has been seen more in the private sector, not so much in the government. In Mexico City, for example, the government is committed to a new large-scale video surveillance system, which will be implemented in 2011."

It is important to note that the penetration strategy of this firm in Latin America has been based on the development of alliances with local distributors in each of the countries where they have entered. "They know and own their market and we train them. However, we are now exploring the possibility of working more directly through experiences such as those we have had in Argentina, Chile and Monterrey, Mexico," Paul said.

The Search for Lost Integration

Since it cannot be ignored that the great paradigm of the electronic security industry is total integration, it seems that there is a company willing to show that it has the recipe to reach this goal: Johnson Controls. Ricardo Abreu is the representative of this company for the markets of Central America and the Caribbean in terms of access, security and fire.

When consulting this manager about market trends at the end of the 2008 season, he stated that customers are very interested in systems that are clearly integrable with open architectures and that allow users to interface between devices so that it is very easy to implement a solution as it happens in the computer field, where any printer can be located on a computer, regardless of the model and brand of it. "Customers today are looking for problems to be solved, not simply to be sold a product," Abreu said.

Particularly Abreu referred to the current economic situation more as an opportunity than as a threat, and explained that unfortunately recessions bring unemployment and when it grows violence increases and in turn this leads to more investments in security, a good that has no cost.

On the performance of this company in Latin America, Abreu recalled that the firm has been breaking its sales records for 62 years and that the last two years have not been the exception. "2007 meant a growth of 7% compared to the numbers of 2006; we believe that this year we will grow in a similar way," he said.

Finally, Ricardo referred to the reasons why it is so difficult to achieve perfect integration and said that currently "there are many particular interests. A given distributor, in a project, is going to want to sell the brands that he sells."

The longevity of the teams

Undoubtedly, one of the topics that most concern the technology industry is the one related to the guarantees and the durability of the solutions acquired. And not to be oblivious to this idea SECURITY SALES spoke with John Frazier, regional sales manager of Orion, a company that specializes in the production of screens for security monitoring.

According to Frazier, the market is presenting today a very clear trend and is towards the use of larger screens; however, here an element intervenes and it is the one that was mentioned at the beginning and that is related to the longevity of the units. He said many of the equipment sold today is made to last six months and it doesn't make much sense to buy a monitor that won't last long even when it's the cheapest.

"That's why we're focusing on producing equipment that has greater durability than is generally on the market," John said.

It is worth saying that this company has been working in Latin America only within the last year, because there was no very defined approach to the region. However, this situation tends to change, since they have already hired Spanish-speaking personnel to serve this market in a more direct way.

Frazier noted some detail in some projects hand in hand with the current economic crisis, but despite this the corporate numbers are still good, a situation that they hope will be reflected in Latin America.

And it is that as expected for some years, the region acquired a true status of saving table in the face of the negative financial movements of the first economies of the planet. At the time of writing this note and the stock markets of the world returned to normal, which is very positive for Latin America, because everything seemed to indicate that if the crisis continues, Latin finances would be among the first to be affected, and that the first signs would be seen in the reduction of the demand for commodities, who are the ones who "have been bringing talk to our countries."


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Biometrics with blood vessels

One of the novel elements that were observed in this edition of ASIS was the Techsphere, from Identica, a biometric reader for access, time and assistance applications and that works by reading the morphology of blood vessels.

SECURITY SALES interviewed Ken Strobell, technical sales manager of the developer firm, who explained some details of the solution. In the opinion of the official, this is a new modality of biometrics, and although it is not entirely new, it was recently introduced in Latin America; readers can be located virtually anywhere such as a fingerprint reader.

The device works by means of an infrared camera located in the reader, which takes a photo of the venous pattern and once it captures it is stored as a template in a database or on a smart card for future comparisons. The great advantage of this method is that the veins are not modified much, so the risk of supplantation is quite low.

Regarding Ken's mention of Latin America, he elaborated by saying  that Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Argentina are the markets where they have already made some installations.

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