There's no question that central stations and monitoring professionals will have to adapt to new technologies to keep up with the competitive market. It's survival of the fittest all over again and the ones that change with the time are those that will survive. This month, we went to a number of leading monitoring professionals, central stations, alarm installers and dealers and others to find out what they see as the future for central stations and the monitoring industry to be? What are they utilizing today as far as central station technology? And how do they see the benefits of recurring monthly revenue (RMR) today being applied to their company or the monitoring industry? Here's what they had to say.
Kenny Savoie, director of Operations, Acadian Monitoring Services, Lafayette, La.—The role of the central station was rather simple in the past— handle some subscriber calls, help with some basic technical support, answer alarms, contact keyholders and dispatch police, fire or ambulance. Now, central stations must focus on where the market and technologies are heading. They must know their dealers needs and keep it as simple as possible for their dealer base, which are busy running their own business. They have to take the initiative and do the R&D on new technologies and see which ones make the most sense. The trick is selecting the right ones that are a fit for both your customer's needs and your business plan.
The biggest challenge currently facing both the dealer and central stations is the migration off of analog Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) lines. In many cases, this is having a negative effect on the alarm industry and dealers and integrators, in particular. We are certainly aware of this and are planning on our future with solutions being implemented that can alleviate these concerns, the additions of RF-radio, Internet monitoring, GSM, wireless video verification and IP video monitoring. Acadian is capable of supporting an array of alarm formats that do not require a standard phone line. We are ramping up our network capabilities between our redundant centers to dual band BGP protocols over two different ISP service providers with 100 MB capacity to support our IP initiatives for the future.
The latest core services we released are hosted services. We currently offer a hosted video platform and a hosted access control platform, where we provide Web portal, cloud access for the customer and/or dealer to be able to access a particular account or service. The hosted video component offers both cloud storage and is compatible with our remote video monitoring, offering additional sources of RMR for the dealer. The access control piece opens up the sale of access systems to a newer market—the small-to-medium business—that was previously considered not viable due to the large up-front investment typically involved with an enterprise access control system.
David M. Koenig, CPP, partner, Capital Lock, Madison, Wis.—Central stations have to change their traditional mode of operation to deal much more commonly with video issues and lifestyle-type things in the residential market, such as interactive services. Adding multiple paths like cellular and IP allow transmission of those lifestyle-type services. Contract central stations have to help their dealers understand how they can make sure their RMR is not eroded—certain people will think they can have all the data sent to their smart phone and they are done. Central stations will have to help their dealers understand how they can turn what could be perceived as a threat into an opportunity. There has got to be some creative thought put into how dealers maintain their current base and add to it and be ready to respond to the smart phone objection.