Ottawa group promises interoperable security solutions

Eight Ottawa-area companies who sell security-related solutions to governments have formed an association to assure buyers their products are interoperable.

Announced Wednesday, the Secure City Technology Alliance aims to capitalize on the increased security concerns since 9/11 for automated surveillance integrated with communications systems.

“It’s formed to go after what has been demonstrated as significant demand by municipal and state governments and large [education] campuses that want to secure their facilities, and respond to and recover from disasters,” said Robert Wu, the alliance’s managing director.

In addition to being geographically close, all but one of the companies also have something else in common: Ottawa technology entrepreneur Terry Matthews, who was involved in their creation or financial backing.

In fact Matthews is the alliance’s chairman. His Wesley Clover Group investment firm is also an alliance member.

Member companies are March Networks Corp., which makes IP video surveillance systems; Mitel Networks Corp., which makes IP telephony systems; DragonWave Inc., a creator of wireless backhaul gear; BelAir Networks Inc., known for its city-wide wireless mesh network equipment; Bridgewater Systems Corp., whose products include policy control software allowing public safety agencies to authenticate subscribers; Solace Systems, a builder of intelligent sensors and messaging systems used by utilities; Magor Communications Corp. a videoconferencing supplier; and Benbria Corp., the only non-Matthews related partner, which makes emergency notification systems used in schools and industry.

Wu said the interoperability means, for example, that an alarm in the March video surveillance system can trigger a broadcast alert from a Benbria system.

Organizations such as local governments, ports, power utilities, transit systems, airports want security systems that can be quickly deployed, Wu said. Those demands can at least in part be met by assuring authorities the equipment they buy is interoperable.

At the moment, the alliance is focusing on several markets, Wu said. For buyers needing video surveillance and wide area sensor monitoring, a challenge can be linking video cameras or sensors through a wired network. The alliance can offer video systems from March linked wirelessly through BelAir or DragonWave. Solace offers sensor monitoring for organizations needing that capability.

A second target market are critical infrastructure organizations such as ports, refineries, transportation and power utilities. In addition to video, partners like Mitel and Bembria can add individual cellphone/walkie-talking alert capabilities for public safety workers, or even neighborhood home phone and e-mail warnings.

A third market is unified communications for police, fire and ambulance departments.

The solutions might be bridgeable to other public safety organizations, Wu added, depending on their interfaces. All of the alliance products SIP (session initiation protocol) as a communications interface.

“We are open to having new membership to join us,” Wu added, but it will be limited “because we don’t want to have too many conflicts. We want to make sure we have the best in each niche.”

The alliance is leaving the assembly and installation of to system integrators, although the partners will share leads to customers. Members such as March, BelAir and Benbria, who already have their feet in these markets, will leverage their contacts and try to bring in more alliance partners as well as find integrators to push combined solutions,Wu added that integrators will have the freedom to use products from other manufacturers.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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