As featured in PSI Magazine, January 2020 “The Voice of Experience”
Commercial and Home security has shifted away from simple control panels and deadbolt locks into cool, coveted high-tech gadgets. While the Jetson era hasn’t arrived just yet, the technology behind modern smart homes, such as visual verification and mobile viewing features, would likely be enough to blow the minds of many.
Today’s security systems are not simply the product of technological developments of the past few years; the groundwork for smart security systems was laid generations ago.
To understand how commercial and home security and the industry has evolved, we caught up with Mick Byron, New Business Development Manager at Amthal Fire & Security, who in 2020 is celebrating 50 years in security.
Mick started his career at Shorrock Security Systems in 1970. At the time, alarms were just making their way to the high-end residential market place.
An early model of an advanced security system included door contacts, tube and wire frames, cc wired and hardboard on the doors (and on some occasions wire and hardboard in the ceiling!) All was controlled by a key operated control panel, with a 3G110 Lock in the front door, and signalling was via Vinyl Record direct in to the Police or Central station.
Labour was intensive and physically demanding. And when it came to warehouses and commercial entities, including wire framing windows and doors, works could take a good couple of weeks to complete. Plus we really had to pull on a mixed skillset of talents such as carpentry, and even ability as an electrician.
It wasn’t until around 1976 that movement sensors came onto the market, implementing the technology of ultrasound waves. It employed very simple ultrasonic technology that was emitted by the sensors and then reflected back.
If an intruder entered a person’s home and tripped one of the sensors, it would cause a change in the sound and trigger the alarm. We’d probably also moved on from vinyl to tape recording by then.
Further advancements in the 1980’s introduced the use of infrared technology to burglar alarms, so that sensors could avoid false positives and avoid setting off false alarms. At this point, the burglar alarm started to become a more affordable option for the majority of homes.
Building on this, it’s fair to say CCTV has only really come into its own in the last ten years, but has developed at frightening pace with tracking and now facial recognition capability.
Rising from an apprentice to Sales Director at Chubb, with his long-spanning career, Mick has witnessed the impressive rate of technology growth, leading to less labour intensive works programmes. But Mick is amongst those who cites the advances as creating a critical skills shortage in the industry.
Mick has clearly been fully trained and developed a clear understanding of the intricate technicalities surrounding traditional fire and security solutions. But newer generations, who may come with academic theory yet lack experience and possibly skill sets, can latch on and understand all things smart, cyber and digital; a clear winner for the technologies now entering the fire and security industry.
The two can work side by side, says Mick, but it will be down to the company at hand to embrace the perhaps more traditional ideals of friendship and camaraderie to enable such a working environment where support, help and a bond of team spirit can guide.
Again returning to his roots, Mick sees apprenticeship schemes, such as Amthal offers, as the obvious way forward.
Key To Success
Giving advice to the young, savvy (arguably cocky), ambitious guy who was starting his career in 1970, what would he say?
Having the ability to adapt to changing technology is key, not only as an Engineer, but also in his evolving Sales role. No one can teach ‘selling’ but it’s imperative to be able to ask the right questions, lead by customer request and in doing so, analyse the individual situation and work together as a team to establish the right solution.
His advice to apprentices? Concentrate on the job in hand, but also look to peers for help and support. And perhaps maximise opportunities within one company, even if others create a perception of a better work / life balance to suit your lifestyle.
If you’re serious in the security industry, knowledge is everything. With press continually capturing the latest crime statistics and worrying trends of knife crime, we have to do more to combat the issues. And there is no doubt smart technology can lead a significant way to finding a resolution.
But there’s also a great opportunity to make some true long-lasting connections (not least being married for 46 years!) on the way to teach and inspire. And to those who have propelled his own career, Mick will be forever grateful. After all, he’s a west London blue collar boy, done good!