A Business Case for Off-site Monitoring

August 25, 2008
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Networked video has helped encourage more attention to third-party security video monitoring. One example, leveraging the acquisition of Trident Tek, American Dynamics has taken the network video recorder and added active content compression and support for MPEG4 to go with the existing MJPEG compression.

With the mobility of security video images, thanks primarily to IP, chief security officers can access their cameras from anywhere at anytime. What’s more important, however, is that the technology advances are encouraging enterprises to look outside for security video monitoring that was an inside job.

Also helping: video analytics, intelligence at the edge, better storage and improved image compression for transmission speed.

Kastle Systems, Compatible Technology Systems, ADT Security Systems and others are investing in infrastructure to allow them to offer security video monitoring services.

There’s no doubt that for both commercial and residential third party monitoring, those businesses have hit the wall in terms of traditional services such as burglar alarms.

For example, IMS Research said that the annual growth rate for the North American wholesale remote monitoring market is forecast to drop below 1 percent by 2011. The research also forecasts the total remote monitoring market will grow at over 7 percent year on year, resulting in a 3 percent drop in share for the wholesale monitoring market by 2012.


According to report author and IMS Research analyst Niall Jenkins, “There are two main drivers influencing the slower growth in wholesale monitoring revenues. Firstly, the number of independent alarm dealers is reducing, with many owners retiring or selling to larger players in the market. This affects the potential market for wholesale monitoring companies as the larger organizations usually monitor their own accounts. Secondly…alarm dealers benefit most when customers use additional services.”

While IMS sees new growth in the personal emergency response service arena, there also is potential in electronic access control and security video monitoring services.
Having “eyes” everywhere they are needed to verify alarms, check persons gaining access to sensitive areas, provide security for employees opening and closing facilities, and help maintain order at retail locations is becoming affordable.

Chief security officers can keep track of multiple facilities. They can take a day off or go on vacation and still supervise their businesses and confirm that things are being done correctly through their security service or directly, when needed, through the Web.

Among the uses of remote video surveillance systems are virtual guard tours in which a central station operator tours an entire facility through its video surveillance system on a regular schedule.
Some companies like the central station to make an announcement over the interactive audio monitoring system that a facility is being viewed. Unruly people at a fast-food restaurant who have not purchased anything can be asked to leave authoritatively through an interactive audio system. Video at the nightclub complex allows employee and cash areas to be monitored on-site or remotely along with doormen, crowd control outside the building and access control, which is tied in with video



Elimination or reduction of security officer expenses is cited by some CSOs as a business reason to move to enhanced third party monitoring.

While monitoring firms always focused on telephone-delivered data specific to burglar alarms, fire alarms, emergency medical and carbon monoxide alerts, it was Sonitrol which pioneered voice verification.

Cities demanding less false alarms have, in some cases, pushed for even better verification including by video.

According to security executives at Westec InterActive, “We will see more and more state and county initiatives that require some video-verified response because police resources are stretched pretty thinly these days. Police don’t have the luxury of going to retail locations to respond to dumb alarms going off in the middle of the night.” Westec as well as some others offer third-party monitoring that blends video and audio with the ability of the monitoring person to “talk to” an individual in a store or building.

Thanks to IP-based and wireless video communications, both a traditional alarm and a video clip can be sent to a central station. Such applications can bring together security and management needs. Retail security executives using third-party monitoring services often have rolling audits in which the service goes from site to site to take a look at corporate compliance or do a point-of-sale interface audit.

Pricing for remote monitoring of video surveillance systems is still being developed as the capabilities of the technology increase and the hardware costs decrease. Some prices are based on the same model as burglar and fire alarms, with a fixed monthly price. But monitoring companies now are developing more complex services that reflect a higher price tag.

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