Roundtable: Transitioning into video monitoring

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

Chavarria: Originally, iVerify started off using off-the-shelf-type items internally. What we figured out a year or so ago, however, was that there wasn’t a product line out there that was all encompassing… so we went out and partnered with a call center solution provider, linked up technology, and developed our own solution. Our focus has been to use off-the-shelf products in the field and not use something proprietary… and then work on integrating controls for those at the central station.    
Adkins: On the equipment side, it’s basically a DVR out at the site that we connect to via a static IP address. We setup a secure connection so that we only go to the DVR and we only actually connect when there is an event that requires us to look in. Some of our customers also use two-way voice modules and there are a couple solutions out there - either IP-based or phone line-based - so that we can open up an audio channel and make an interactive announcement or listen in at the site.     
SIW: Do employees require more in-depth training to perform video monitoring as opposed to burglar and fire alarm monitoring? Is there a particular quality or skill-set you look for?
Krebs: We’re big believers in the fact that video operators and burglary and fire operators have completely different skill sets. Video operators need to pay attention to many more things - it’s more detailed and more involved, so they’re going to need additional types of training to deal with analytics platforms and different types of detection methods. There are quite a few different technological differences that those operators need to be trained on vs. burglary and fire operators, which typically respond to text-based messages that are put in front of them.
Iverson: We make sure our senior operators (those who have been with the company over a year) are familiar with any alarm signal that would come in, but specifically, we feel that they are so familiar (having been here) that they can handle it. It’s just training and getting used to the software. We train them on what to look for, if it’s a tilting camera, how to maneuver it, etc.
Chavarria: We’ve developed an internal training system ourselves. The training is really focused on analytical process - how to process an event that you see, analyze it and deliver a response. I don’t think you take your typical burglar alarm monitoring operator and drop them in there. Historically, we’ve looked for folks with physical security type experience, and law enforcement or military backgrounds. You can’t put a description to every scenario, and you must have a person who can think on their feet and make quick, accurate decisions.
Sparkman: When it comes to personnel, one of the key things we use as an indicator when we build our staffing models is the average handle time of an interaction for whatever solution we’re providing to the customer. We do time-motion studies of the activity when it’s arriving and how long it takes the operator to handle a specific type of activity.
SIW: What are some of the video storage options available to central stations? Can there be on-site storage at the client’s facility, or does it have to be done at the central station?
Chavarria: We do both, onsite storage with a DVR and we offer an offsite storage solution as well.
Adkins: It’s pretty much at the customer’s DVR. We have some platforms where we store what the operators view when they connect to the site, but all the video is recorded 24/7 on the customer’s DVR.
Sparkman: Especially in a real-time situation, we get a good clip of what the (intruder) looks like in there on the video, we can immediately transmit that information to both the customer and police. In several cases, we’ve been able to have a picture of the perpetrator in the hands of the authorities as they’re arriving at the site. 
SIW: What is the model for video monitoring? Do some clients want 24/7 video monitoring at their facilities, or do most prefer it to be done after an alarm of some type is triggered?
Krebs: We have just as many of our customers that do 24/7 monitoring as event-based monitoring. An example would be for facilities that have remote locations that aren’t manned – they are going to want to monitor those facilities 24/7. Other facilities, such as car dealerships, they just want their facilities monitored in the evening.