The demographic growth clearly shows that the density of population is increasing in cities, with the need to address the security issue.
Who were the first Commend intercoms designed for?
The first professional communication systems from Commend were destined to establish communication in administrative buildings, such as various types of offices. Then, they gradually found their way to hospitals and doctor’s practices. Naturally, as the market developed, new areas of use appeared.
What was the main driving force behind the further devel-opment of your systems? Was it some kind of a discovery or technology?
It was mostly the market itself and the specific requirements of customers who came up with the standard question: “Can you make us something like this?” And when we realised that indeed we could, and after implementing the product it proved to be use-ful for other sectors as well, we added it to our standard portfolio. It was a controlled process which allowed us to gradually expand our product range. The devices destined to ensure communication and security in administrative buildings were thus complemented with systems used in hospitals, operating rooms, laboratories and other clean environments, doctor’s practices, shopping centres, industries and, last but not least, detention centres with their extra security demands. With every customised solution we expanded the functionality of our systems. Today, they are more than products – they are complex integrated solutions.
Despite its beginnings, Commend’s profile as an intercom manufacturer has been replaced by that of a security system specialist. What do you think has caused this increased focus on security?
This phenomenon is the correlation of several factors. It has much to do with the post-2001 geopolitical situation, when in the wake of the terrorist attack, the Western world realised its fragility. People needed to feel safer, and often at the cost of sacrificing part of their privacy. It is completely normal today that public spaces are under camera surveillance and more and more security measures are being implemented. Another objective factor to consider is demographic growth which clearly shows that the density of population is increasing in cities, with the need to address the security issue. Commend has been monitor-ing these trends for a long time and it naturally started to integrate them into its solutions. Today, we provide the market with unique integrated security solutions containing camera systems that can simultaneously record sound and video. This means that when we receive an emergency call, we can communicate with the caller while recording in real-time the area where the call is coming from. Sound and video are synchronously saved into the same file, which is convenient for further documentation and essential for the reconstruction of the case.
Commend is an Austrian company with a global reach. When did it decide to expand to Slovakia and what business goal motivated it?
Some markets developed where we could see potential. As far as Slovakia is concerned, I think it was more about coincidence meeting natural progress. I had a personal experience with Commend as we had worked together on a mutual project, and it was I who presented them with the idea of expanding to Slo-vakia. As a result, in 2007 we founded the company’s subsidiary for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, with all that it entails, from identifying market needs, designing and implementing solutions and offering technical support.
When you came, at what stage of development was the Slovak market? Was it even ready for your sophisticated solutions?
I can say without exaggeration that neither the Slovak nor the Czech markets were ready for us. In the beginning, we literally had to evangelise the market. We participated in numerous meetings, gave presentations and tried to explain who we are, what we do and how it benefits the customer. Because when you mention ‘intercom’, most people imagine a concierge or a home inter-com, which Commend most definitely is not. Of course there are segments where awareness of our products is significantly higher, like the previously mentioned detention centres that depend on complex security systems. It’s similar with some specific industry sectors. However, if we move on to the urban level – as cities could greatly profit from smart solutions – there is still much education needed. It is because most people believe public security systems only consist of CCTV cameras, though there are plenty of other technologies a city could use.
Our solutions and systems – beside enabling basic voice commu-nication and sending out emergency signals and calls – can also integrate a huge number of other systems and technologies. For instance, they can efficiently manage parking in city centres, in areas with restricted access protected by barriers. In case of unsuccessful authorisation, our system can connect the driver with the local police station or authority, and after they verify his or her identity, one of the employees can remotely lift the barrier. Everything is controlled through our system which can even monitor potential conflict situations, and using its integrated transmitter it can warn a police patrol officer. Our more advanced technologies are also enhanced with an integrated system for detecting gunfire on the streets or in buildings and can identify shot cadence and direction. Based on this information, we can direct the security camera towards that particular spot and, as a result, security forces get a perfect overview of the situation. But this is only a tiny fraction of our available technologies. Transforming cities into smart cities is the way to change them.
When and why did Commend start to deal more extensively with the smart city concept?
This was partly related to the growing security requirement. Not only in cities but also in all kinds of public spaces, including schools, university campuses, exhibition grounds, airports etc., this is where our first advanced systems were put into use. As our references increased, this field became one of the three main areas our company decided to specialise in. And this eventually led us to smart city projects and solutions.
You joined the smart city segment as a partner alongside other major companies. Would it not be more economically advanta-geous for you to offer only your systems?
Quite the contrary; we see it in a very realistic way. When we started to operate in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, we had some huge security projects prepared; however, the market was not ready for them. Our influence was too small for us to be able to break through in a massive way. Thus, a partnership with strong companies with a global reach gave us a much higher chance of success We are part of the open and integrable CitySys platform, which is extremely complex and modular at the same time, able not only to increase urban security but also to introduce a smart lighting system, and to improve the quality of the traffic, environment, waste management and plenty of other areas. It also suggests innovative ways to tackle the question of how to finance smart city projects.
You’ve mentioned that Commend systems are complex and sophisticated technologies with plenty of functionalities. Where is their development heading? What will they be able to do in, say, twenty or thirty years?
We certainly see room for development in increasing the quality and reliability of smart intelligence which, although it already exists, is still far from being perfect, for example, to be able to reliably identify dangerous situations on the streets. Our devices are also enhanced with audio monitoring systems e.g. that can detect voices and launch scripts accordingly. We need to significantly improve the quality of voice analysis to a completely different level than today, to be able to detect a cry for help with 100% reliability and not respond, say, to a dog barking. So, if we are talking about how our systems will look in the future, we can certainly expect the improvement of smart video analysis, audio monitoring and voice emotion analysis, which can launch automated scripts.
Marcela Heglasová, RECO
MARTIN BUNČÁK – Managing director of Commend Slovakia – With its more than 45 years of experience, Commend is a global leader in the development, manufacture and sale of professional communication devices. Through its subsidiary, the company has been present on the Slovak market since 2007. Today, its security systems are deployed in public spaces, administrative build-ings, industry sectors, hospitals and detention centres. Commend Slovakia is currently one of the parties defining how a smart city in Slovakia could and should look like.