RMR on the horizon

Remote monitoring-the tool that sells

"Imagine a security breach or equipment malfunction occurring at a remote location," explained Brian Geoghegan, executive vice president and CPO, Reality Mobile, Herndon, Va. "With operations teams in a central command center, these incidents can be monitored through the use of cameras or real-time high-quality video feeds originating from an employee's smart phone or other mobile device. In the event of a security breach, the command center can immediately use GPS information to locate the nearest responders and send them the live video so they instantly have a visual understanding of the event at hand."

According to Simon Morgan, technical director, SureView Systems, Tampa, Fla., remote monitoring for security applications requires two major components: edge devices and a central station software platform to monitor these devices. "To offer the most diverse range of services a comprehensive mix of CCTV/video, access control, two-way audio and intrusion alarms is required," Morgan explained. "All of these products can transmit via IP to the central station. Once these streams are received at the monitoring station, a central software package is required to aggregate these signals from disparate equipment into a single operator interface. At the edge there is a range of innovative products that can assist the central station to deliver the latest range of cutting edge monitoring services."

Two good examples of this are analytics and two-way audio. The benefits can be as broad in scope or as narrowly focused to meet specific end-user requirements.

"There are integrated solutions versus just a product-based solution," stated Yona Wieder, chief executive officer, Visentry, Paramus, N.J. "We provide a centralized monitoring facility which has proved to be more efficient for small- to mid-sized companies, especially those companies who once relied on guards or operators watching monitoring screens."

The rebirth of audio

Software designed to alert operators to suspicious activity in the event of an incident, as it is about to unfold, instead of just reacting after the fact, makes built-in analytics a powerful tool. "Video analytics allows a central station to receive video events indoor and outdoor and radically reduces the number of false alarms when compared to standard video motion detection," explained Morgan.

"Two-way IP audio is also an essential component to any successful monitoring service. The ability to talk down or conduct two-way conversations greatly enhances security at the site."

Before analytics the attempt to solve intrusions as they happened was at best based on luck. "When we stream video with an alert to the monitoring station, this empowers the operator to only see actionable intelligence and respond to alarms versus sitting and watching countless video streams," said John Whiteman, vice president of Strategic Programs, DVTel, Ridgefield Park, N.J. "A unified solution which also includes two-way audio and access control in addition to video streams with alert information provides much more functionality than standalone analytics. It increases productivity."

The monitoring of indoor environments for life safety purposes has also seen changes in remote connectivity, also tied to the demise of POTS lines, explained Gene Pecora, general manager, Honeywell Power Products, Northford, Conn. Additional options for communicating are part of the reason POTS are being retired.

"The change in technology has happened behind the scenes," said Pecora. "The fire alarm industry has kept their systems the same while the technology change has occurred. With POTS lines going away fire alarm installers were asking for alternatives." Alternatives developed include IP communicators allowing for alarm monitoring over the Internet. Central stations are now accepting IP communications in receivers, using cellular as a backup, according to Pecora.

In terms of driving RMR, video is hot in remote monitoring. "We realized about five years ago that everything was going video and integrators were going to need to augment their businesses with it," said Jorge Hevia, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing, Napco Security Technologies, Amityville, N.Y. "They can grow their RMR with new streams of revenue and can target existing customers as well."

Users want look-in convenience

Hevia said Napco conducted research on the marketplace, asking participants if they could have one security product/function, what would that be, and the response was overwhelmingly that they would love to see what's going on inside the home from their cell phone. "It's a lifestyle approach that opens the possibilities to millions of households," Hevia explained. "It transcends security, transcends peace of mind."