Video verification strategies: Bringing video into a central station

ESX 2010 panel looks realistically at challenges in the video verification world (part 2)

In previous coverage on this topic from ESX 2010 (see part 1 of this article), examined police response trends to video verification, and while police response and standards is an outside factor that central stations and security dealers are facing, there are in-house stepping stones for central stations too.

Picking products

According to Jim Loyd, the vice president of sales and marketing for Grand Central Station (GCS) in Hayward, Calif., and a speaker on the ESX video verification seminar, one of the first things that has to be decided upon is product selection. Walk any security industry tradeshow floor (but especially ESX), and you'll see a plethora of companies offering video surveillance and remote monitoring products to security dealers and central stations. Loyd said that GCS took a tier approach to product selection to solve this challenge.

On the low-end is what he calls mobile video. For GCS, they use Xanboo to offer their customers video verification and remote monitoring. The product can push video (and alarm system access) to a customer's cellular telephone. One step up, at what Loyd calls the mid-tier, is Videofied's system which integrates PIR detectors with very simple cameras. The Videofied system integrates with an alarm system and gives monitoring personnel small video clips. The system uses cellular GSM connections and the units are battery powered, so Videofied's technology is popular for remote locations and installations where power and cabling present challenges. The downside of the Videofied system is that the clips are so small and compressed that central stations say the video has no real value for criminal identification purposes, but it can be used to verify or dismiss an alarm-in-progress.

For high-end, more robust remote video monitoring and event verification, GCS uses Immix Systems' Sureview platform. The system is a full-fledged video system providing better video, and Loyd said the platform allows his firm's central station to provide services like remote concierge, virtual doorman and virtual guard tours. A number of stations said they have integrated Surview and similar competitive products right into their station's automation software.

Loyd said that the three-tier product line has allowed them to offer different levels of service to their clients, and he said that most customers are commercial. The station has been able to land national accounts with this offering, but also can remain nimble enough to service small businesses. Loyd said that has meant a great growth opportunity for GCS, and he advises firms to develop compensation structures for sales persons that would encourage the sale of remote video monitoring and event verification.

Effect on central station operations

Wanda Valenteen, the central station manager for The Protection Bureau and another panel speaker at ESX 2010's video verification seminar, said that in addition to picking product, central stations need to review their contracts. "You need video specific contract verbage, because video is a different monster," Valenteen said. "You have to protect your operators and your company."

Valenteen said that as a station manager, she also had to consider how that effected her station operators. The company has been using Videofied's products and notably landed the protection of a high number of empty buildings for the Detroit Public Schools. Adding video meant time on incident increased, and Valenteen said she needed to review that increase and price video services accordingly. A regular intrusion alarm incident might take a total of 90 seconds of an operator's time, Valenteen said, but with video, sometimes they don't receive the video clips until 90 seconds later, due to the lag time of the system sending the video over a cellular network.

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