Roundtable: Transitioning into video monitoring

Industry experts discuss the challenges for central stations that want to enter the video monitoring business

As central stations look for alternative revenue streams in the current economic climate, the idea of offering video monitoring in addition to its normal range of services has certainly become more appealing.
But as many experts point out, getting into the video monitoring sector isn’t as easy as one might believe it to be. In addition to making a significant investment in technology infrastructure, there are also many other factors that companies need to take into account when thinking about breaking into the business.
In this exclusive SIW roundtable, industry experts across the video monitoring space discuss the challenges involved with getting into the business and what it takes to make it a viable RMR stream for your company.
The participants are:
  • Matt Krebs, executive vice president of Sureview Systems
  • Troy Iverson, vice president of sales and marketing for AvantGuard Monitoring Centers
  • Jose Chavarria, senior vice president of technology at iVerify
  • Craig Sparkman, executive director of ADT’s national account monitoring center in Aurora, Colo.
  • Brian Adkins, unit manager of special operations for ADT
SIW: What are some of the biggest challenges that companies face that want to get into video monitoring, and how do they grow that business once they have all the pieces in place?
Krebs: I think to get into (video monitoring), you certainly have to be willing to make the proper investment in infrastructure, which is typically outfitting your central station with the right types of receiving equipment and the right type of automation software to be able to effectively handle the types of IP-based access control and video systems that are now prevalent in the field. This is a relatively young market space - we’re finding that the general buying population is warming up to the technology and the service offering, but it has taken a little bit of time. Because it’s in such an infancy state, it’s little bit of hard work early on to get things moving.
Chavarria: It’s definitely difficult for a number of reasons. First, because of what’s required to move from traditional burglar alarm to remote video, your staff in the center has to be trained on how to respond. It’s a different category of personnel that sits in a remote video center - because there’s a lot of decision making that has to happen. Video responses aren’t necessarily black-and-white. In a burglar alarm monitoring center, you get a panic signal and you follow a set of protocols. In our business, if you get a video event that’s triggered by a burglar alarm, you don’t send the police out every time. You must have an operator that has the ability to make good decisions. For us, that was the biggest transition. Clearly, one of the biggest challenges is having the right folks responding to the signals.
SIW: In regards to infrastructure, what are some technology investments that central stations must make to provide a comprehensive service?
Krebs: You have to invest in the appropriate server configurations. When you’re talking about video monitoring, you’re also talking about video storage and recording in the central station, because you certainly want to have all this information to archive and store in your station. You must have appropriate storage facilities and server configurations - not only for server capacity, but for redundancy as well. Certainly, video analytics platforms lend themselves nicely to early and accurate detection and notification, and they’re very stable. We’re seeing a large surge in the technology and its efficiency. Audio technologies, voice sounds and two-way audio are becoming key to our customers. Lots of our customers also want to do more with access control technology.
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