Take an average business in days of old you would hire a company to install a separate burglar alarm , separate Fire Alarm, Separate card Access, separate entry system and separate camera system. then you also had to call a telephone vendor and separate data people for wiring in and setting up your computers.
Sometimes you where dealing with up to 12 different contractors when setting up your new store or business.
But what if you could combine systems and services so they all flowed together and now you only needed 1 or 2 people to handle everything.
Thats what integration does for you. When systems can communicate with each other to provide more services that's even better.
So when you arm your alarm at night lights automatically turn on or off as need thermostats turn back temperature and your sent either an email or text who armed it when they armed it
Now combine the cameras and card access system so when some one enters building the door camera takes a full face picture of then lights turn on etc so they can find there way in and system has automatically disarmed it self.
In days past this took lots of wire and many relays and timers and did not give all the extra features today's modern systems do. off site notification was limited in what messages could say But with new systems ,like the Honeywell/Ademco Vista 32-128 -250 FB-BP and BPT series of panels where most functions are done off of a two wire addressable buss cable vs 30 or more wires going everywhere.and full contact ID reporting to central station and complete detailed emails and texts you get the best of both worlds safety and convenience all rolled in one.
So what does an Integrator do?
That's some one like me who takes the time and sits down and researches a job site needs and puts together and then installs the best of all technology available for a customer with in there budget. It can be a fully blown out automated system or Just an very advanced Fire or burglar system which provides extra duties.
While most integrators come from the IT side of technology and get involved with camera and card access set ups . There are Integrators like my self with heavy IT training and also have electrical, electronic and even Lock Smithing , HVAC or other heavy mechanical backgrounds.You find us involved more with Heavy commercial and Industrial concerns Vs. high end residential, retail and corporate offices. but some of us also service those customers as well.
Because we offer a completely different level of services to industry vs a standard integrator.
Where we are controlling and interfacing with industrial controls and machinery. to report problems etc. some times we even build interfaces for equipment as well. While IT guys where Dockers and sport shirts where more blue collar dressed. Wearing Steel toes and protective gear.
Many in the alarm industry feel integrators are above them and are special "the old your shits smells better than ours" . The truth is To be able to do integration properly you must have mastered many building codes and rules and have extensive skills and be multi talented. If not you are putting peoples lives at risk and just kidding your self . You have to be very proficient with computers and data cabling etc. something no standard alarm company even comes close to. The technology we work on is way over there heads.But there is nothing from stopping them from learning how to do it either it just takes education and effort. But too many lazy people ruin it all the time.
Which unfortunately this also means there are to many big name integrators running around my area who have no idea what there doing with codes and care not to follow them and this allows people to get trapped in fires when doors do not open etc.
With more computer company's and 911 nerds getting into integration and not knowing codes like what happened at one of my institutional clients where they had to rip out everything they put in and never did get it operating properly this is more the normal than should be.
Integration is just like anything else it must be properly designed installed and maintained or its just as worthless as every other product with a much bigger waste of money.