Some 99 percent of the customer sites you walk into today have a network. Along with Internet and email, they probably use a VoIP phone system and any number of Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms for mission critical activities-from payroll to customer relationship management to HR benefits programs. It's even become commonplace for businesses to use hosted platforms for central alarm monitoring and access control.
Sending video surveillance to the cloud is actually treading down an already familiar path. So why not take advantage?
When you integrate hosted video with hosted alarm monitoring and/or hosted access control, you create a security solution significantly more effective than if your customer were operating each hosted system separately. Collectively they provide secondary authentication for door access, visual verification for event alarms and even afford customers a way to accept unattended deliveries with greater confidence. By integrating all three systems, you can offer your customers a way to improve their overall security operation for less.
Less opportunity for false alarms. If your customer's business resides in one of the many municipalities that now require companies to deploy some sort of alarm verification before dispatching police and fire responders to a scene, integrating video surveillance with central alarm monitoring and access control completes the hosted security circle by providing video verification of events. Collectively the three integrated hosted solutions dovetail nicely with respective compliance needs while avoiding costly false alarms that can quickly deplete an operating budget.
Less upfront investment. Speaking of budgets, a hosted business model removes traditional buying barriers by moving security systems from a capital expense to an operating expense. This enables your customers to leverage more sophisticated surveillance technology for a lower start-up cost. Consuming security as a service allows them to budget more manageable monthly user fees, which translates into a steady, recurring revenue stream to bolster your own integration business.
Less ongoing maintenance to manage. By definition, hosted systems remove onsite infrastructure needs from the equation. The host provider handles all the maintenance, from patches, updates and upgrades, to tracking network connectivity and the health of the cameras, alarm system and access control devices. In addition, the provider should be contractually bound to guarantee quality of service, something your customer's overburdened security department may not have the available resources to match.
Here are a few scenarios where integrating hosted video into other hosted security systems can bridge a vital gap in protection.
Secondary access verification: Who's really walking through the door?
In a typical hosted access control system, if a user swipes a valid key card or enters a correct PIN they'll be granted access to the building. As a safety precaution, the card or PIN usually ties to a directory that stipulates specific access levels (location, time of day, etc.). But what happens if the key card is stolen or someone hijacks the PIN?
There's no way to ascertain if the person using the access code or the key card matches the person authorized to do so in a traditional access control system. When you link network surveillance cameras to the access control system, however, you provide a means for secondary verification. Now you can program a delay in the door mechanism to give the host provider time to call up a photo ID of the user and compare it to the video streaming from the location. If the two don't match up, the security operator can deny entry and send someone to that location to detain the individual.
Alarm verification: Is a break-in happening or is it just the wind?
When an alarm is triggered, the central station operator needs to instantly decide what action to take. Does the event warrant an immediate call to local law enforcement? Or should they just notify the customer that an alarm went off? Without eyes on the location, any decision is basically an educated guess. However, when you link network surveillance cameras to the alarm sensors, you give the dispatcher the critical situational awareness needed to decide if the event is real or it's just the wind rattling the door. If the cameras show someone breaking into the premises, or a fire erupting in a wastebasket, then a 9-1-1 call is definitely in order. But if cameras show no evidence of an event, then the policy might be to simply report the alarm condition to the customer and note it in the log. Plagued with rising fines for calling in false alarms, video verification can be an advantage realized to the customer's bottom line.
Unattended deliveries: Who's dropping off what?
Many businesses today accept unattended deliveries. The driver is given a key card or PIN that grants entry to the receiving dock or an entrance the business chooses to authorize. He drops off the packages, signs the log and leaves. But this process can be problematic since there's no way to verify who actually made the delivery, what they delivered and what was logged. If a package comes up short, was it a clerical error on the part of the delivery guy, or did he deliberately leave product on the truck to sell off the books? When a network surveillance camera is integrated into the process, the scene would play out in much the same way as described in the secondary access authorization scenario. Opening the door triggers the video camera to begin recording the event. The footage provides a visual record of the whole transaction-whether the door was opened by the regular delivery person or a substitute, as well as evidence for what goods were actually delivered. If positioned strategically, the camera can also capture what remained on the truck. In case of a dispute, the video serves as forensic evidence of what really transpired during the unattended delivery.
Entering a greenfield of opportunity
With budgets often dictating staff resources, a hosted solution can be very appealing to customers looking to stretch their physical security dollars. It not only reduces the total cost of managing physical security, it frees security professionals to focus their energies on security issues rather than the maintenance and support of technology.
Like they would for monthly cell phone service, customers pay a nominal fee for the hardware technology, or perhaps lease rather than own it, as long as they consume the security systems as a service. The service provider archives their video safely off site and provides access to it through a secure portal. The central monitoring station logs alarms and contacts appropriate responders. And the service provider maintains and updates PIN codes and key card authorization directories for the customer. Converging video, alarm monitoring and access control into a single, cohesive solution amplifies physical security beyond what each of these hosted systems could deliver on its own.
Using a fee-for-services model shifts physical security from a hefty capital expense-which can be a real deal killer-to an affordable monthly operating expense. For you, it represents a greenfield of opportunity to grow your business with a repeating revenue stream that will cement a long-term relationship with your customer.
Matt Krebs is the business development manager for Video Hosted Solutions at Axis Communications, Chelmsford, Mass.