Mason admitted that new construction is almost non-existence right now. While most service companies are tied to the construction industry, his company focuses on elevator control, which is now increasingly integrated to access control and emergency notification, and it's a highly regulated and code-centric business. In other words, it's a mandate, so the business has not been as adversely affected as others during the recession. "Most elevators have already been modernized with emergency communications systems," Mason added.
Web-based elevator monitoring
One of the areas Kings III is highly involved in is elevator performance monitoring, a great avenue of additional service monitoring and recurring monthly revenue. "It tracks the performance of the elevator and notifies management when it's not working," Mason explained. "The applications are now Web-based. It's completely automated and transmits notification of elevator status or maintenance issues through e-mail and text messages."
Mason said the customer drives this particular application and decides what type of notification and service level they require.
"The end-user is asking for e-mail or cellular notification," he continued. Building owners and property managers are now aware of and actively involved in the management and maintenance, he further explained, due to the prohibitive cost of down or service time. "Elevator performance monitoring is an RMR product," said Mason. "In addition, with the demise of POTS lines, certainly an IP solution will be necessary for this type of elevator maintenance and management. Typically elevator communications are on dedicated phone lines."
Mason said Kings III is working with a customer on integrating their building automation system (BAS) with its elevator performance monitoring service. "That's definitely the future," he added. "It's all about managing their assets more efficiently; that's been more and more important as the real estate market has tanked. Property managers and real estate companies are much more active in the upkeep of their business. Integrating with building services is an opportunity and these people are looking for more automation." Kings III recently upgraded its central station software to give clients Web access and manage accounts better.
Another wave of security is also hitting this market, and it has to do with biometrics and video surveillance and automating many of the processes and procedures formerly reserved for on-site doormen or security guards. Companies are producing what they refer to as virtual doormen services, many which are Web-based controls that allow a central station or call center to virtually accept packages, allow or deny entry, or call authorities with video verification of the situation. It's a level of sophistication that tenants are beginning to expect.
Rise of mega cities
More and more, people are returning to cities to live, where they can be located close to their offices. In addition, offices and high rises will continue to be part of a move by many to return to high-density areas, according to Avi Lupo, general manager, SafeRise Americas, Tel Aviv, Israel. Lupo, who conducted research for the launch of the second generation biometric security solution SafeRise(r) by FST21 Ltd., said access control solutions that combine biometrics and video analytics will become increasingly important as people continue to move to large urban areas.
"By the year 2040, 80 percent of the nation's population will live in big cities and we will see more and more mega cities across the country," said Lupo. In 2007, he added, about half the nations' people lived in big cities. Mega cities are described as urban areas of 10 million or more. The move to mega cities brings additional challenges, including protecting the water supply and communications and thwarting terror and crime. "There are going to be a lot of security challenges with regards to high rises," continued Lupo. He added that biometric solutions, like the SafeRise system are providing the 'sizzle' property managers need for someone to want to be there. The SafeRise system is a non-intrusive product that identifies user's facial characteristics, voice print and behavior patterns. "This is the beginning of how people will gain access to buildings in the 21st century," he explained.
State of the market