It can be substantially stepped down if you take the fear factor out of it. Here’s where I think many locksmiths are missing the boat; they’re going in thinking somebody else knows more than they do, which is not the case. When you walk into a situation, you already know the hardware. With Access Control, you’re trying to make the hardware work electronically so you’re 2/3 of the way there! With an alarm company or electrical contractor, he only knows 1/3 and the other two thirds he’s missing. You have to see it that way, you’re ahead of the game! The main message in any class I teach is “Don’t Be Afraid”. You’re not going to get to that next step unless you take some chances. Now I’m not telling you to take on a huge project to begin with. Start small and understand the very basics and then you eventually evolve into the bigger jobs.
So study and learn as much as possible?
I always make this analogy. The locksmith is no different from the blacksmith. When the blacksmiths realized nobody was going to be riding horses anymore, some became mechanics and some found other things to do.
Locksmithing does not have to stop because it’s no longer all mechanical since mechanical is still a large part of it. Until they come up with some digital field to stop you from entering somewhere, you’re still going to have a physical barrier to deal with and you already know that stuff. It’s just the little additions we talked about that you’re missing the boat on.
It disturbs me because my whole life, I’ve wanted locksmiths to be more professional. There’s much dignity attached to being a locksmith and not moving on to the next level is like saying “I’m not capable.” We should be confident enough to think, “This is where we’re going and I’m going there.” You think every mechanic that was used to pulling a car apart with wrenches all of a sudden liked the idea of plugging in a computer to figure out what’s wrong?
Do you remember the first time you did CCTV work?
I do, I went in screaming. We did lots of work at a university and one day they asked me to help with cameras. We were already there doing the security work but I was reluctant to get into it. This is long before digital, only analog. We took on the job in spite of it being a pretty aggressive project and I was amazed at how much it paid! Back in the analog days, I thought it was ridiculous. I just didn’t see the value in CCTV systems because every time you went back, the VCRs were either shut off or not set correctly. The tapes were cataloged according to the day of the week. When they needed to look at something, the VCR was off and the tape wasn’t available.
To digress a little, back in the late 90s I got involved with database structures and database systems. While there, I saw the access control systems and CCTV systems going there and my background was real strong going back to DOS. If we didn’t take things in this direction, then somebody else was going to. We already knew what they needed at the opening and how to control it, so it was a natural for us. That came from being a locksmith!
By the late 90s we were using digital cameras and we were all amazed at how well they worked. Now it was useful video since it was easy to retrieve and you could actually see what you were looking for. If I sell a system that I have trouble managing, then it’s going to cost me a lot down the road to keep the customer happy.
Once CCTV became manageable and dependable, I was able to make money and it really became worthwhile. It’s easy because you’re dealing with very few components. You got structured cable from the camera back to the DVR, and a camera. You power an analog camera; you get a signal, there’s no rocket science involved there. Once you bring that thing back to the DVR and put it on a network, then you have to learn a little bit but it’s really very easy.
Access control is a lot more involved because you’re dealing with hardware considerations, codes, cable going back, the controller, creating different sites, etc. CCTV is much simpler.
How should a locksmith get started in CCTV?
Get a camera and monitor, take a piece of cable; understand what it takes to power it. Set it up and play with it, focus it, put it in your shop. Put the camera on the bench and direct and focus and play with it. You’ll get a general idea of what comes back from what you do.
Then get a small DVR, a 4 channel one, and play with it. Plug the camera and monitor into it. The big thing is getting over the fear of CCTV for the locksmiths who aren’t doing it yet. Learning it is no more difficult than the access control most are already doing. With CCTV it’s easy to achieve much with very little.
ADI Expos Network CCTV Solutions is one of the courses scheduled at the 2007 ADI Expo series of one-day seminars. This course provides a comprehensive explanation of network cameras, encoders and...