The recent collaboration between a ‘smart’ home company and an access control specialist shows how security systems are becoming part and parcel of general building automation
Increasing globalisation has resulted in a growing awareness of safety and security issues in the UAE, comments e-Home Automation MD Arch. Khalifa Al Jaziri. “Security systems are a much bigger issue today than, say, ten years ago when people would have been hard-pressed to define such systems, let alone include them as part of the overall infrastructure.”
However, Dubai’s push to become an international and regional business hub has meant that mobility – especially in terms of the business community – is now a critical consideration. “In the past, business was either much localised or just regional; now people are flying all over the world for business purposes.
This has meant that people and businesses in general now have a lot of property elsewhere, which needs to be made secure. The trend has been for a comprehensive solution to cover all these elements,” explains Al Jaziri.
Thus the decision by e-Home Automation to acquire the exclusive Middle Eastern distributorship for Impro Technologies, a South African manufacturer of access control systems. Established in 1988, Impro Technologies has supplied its cutting-edge solutions to many blue chip clients in South Africa, ranging from industrial concerns to commercial and retail properties.
Impro Technologies MD Errol East says the decision to work with e-Home Automation represents an important opportunity for the Durban-based manufacturer. “We recognised its holistic approach to the market. As a solutions provider, it is able to work with integrators to deliver its solutions. Access control is increasingly synergising with automation systems, and we wanted a partner that could offer a turnkey solution to governments, real estate developers and system installers.”
The new company, Impro Middle East, will dovetail seamlessly with the existing suite of products and services offered by e-Home Automation, says division manager Mustafa Younis. “e-Home Automation is well-established in the local market, enjoys high growth, and has partners in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, for example. From the Impro Technologies side we will also be taking care of the larger MENA region, including countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Iran.”
Younis explains the main benefits of the access control and security solution offered by Impro Technologies: “Firstly, it is cost-effective, which is a major consideration in a price-sensitive market, especially given the impact of the global economic slowdown on the regional construction industry.
“Secondly, it is flexible, meaning integration of an end user’s system with any third party. At the same time we can give you an open database to which you can add your own program or implement your own system structure. Thirdly, upgradeability – you can start with one and end up with 3000 doors.”
Impro Technologies has three main product offerings. Supagate provides access control for small applications such as standalone villas. It comes without software, comprises only four relays, and can accommodate up to 99 users. “It is a very simple and cost-effective solution that can be integrated with barrier or even HVAC control,” explains Younis.
This points to another recent trend: harnessing such technology to promote energy efficiency and ‘smart’ building simultaneously. “IXP220 (software included) is even more flexible in that you can start with a single door and end up with 256 doors (anti-passback). This system can also be connected via LAN or WAN, for example. Additional features include elevator control, party intrusion alarm and building management.”
The top end is represented by IXP400, which can control up to 3000 doors, and be integrated with ancillary systems such as fire alarm or CCTV.
All these systems are compatible with the home automation solutions offered by e-Home, which includes security and access control as one of its independent modules, thereby allowing maximum flexibility in catering for specific customer needs.
“The home has evolved from being a place purely for relaxation and recreation; increasingly it is also a place of business. This has meant the integration of a host of new technologies and equipment,” says Younis. Al Jaziri comments that such integration poses its own unique set of problems, as many so-called ‘smart’ buildings have ‘single point of failure’ problems. “The trend today is towards decentralised intelligence with complementary smart systems. This means that if the overall system control goes down, everything will still work as standalone units.”
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