Pondering Remote Ideas

As cell phones and PDAs flood the market, security dealers and integrators eye remote monitoring to increase sales and recurring revenue

It's no secret that security isn't the easiest thing in the world to sell. In fact, under certain circumstances it can be very difficult, especially in environments where people don't perceive a threat (such as in relatively safe neighborhoods). One way to get around the natural obstacles to some security sales is for dealers and integrators to offer more than just security.

During ISC East in New York , Ken Weinstein, senior vice president of program marketing, Honeywell, commented that people want to buy products with features that enable them to do things that are “cool” or “useful.” That's why he thinks remote monitoring has so much potential from a sales perspective. Not every family wants a burglar alarm, but what working parent wouldn't want the ability to monitor via their cell phone or PDA what time their kid got home from school and who was with them?

Honeywell's newly released Total Connect remote services offering ties in well with the company's line of multi-path communications devices that use GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), SMS (Short Message Service), and the Internet to send alarm signals and other data. According to Weinstein, Honeywell's Total Connect opens the door to additional RMR opportunities, appeals to a new generation of buyers, and provides services to consumers and businesses that weren't possible before or were very costly to implement. “Total Connect allows customers to use the Internet, PDAs , cell phones, video cameras and more to stay connected to their homes and busi nesses.”

In years past, people would place phone calls to places (i.e., you would call a house, somebody would answer, and then eventually you would talk to the person you asked for provided they were home). However, today people don't call “places,” they call “people,” said Weinstein, emphasizing that cell phones are the norm today. With this in mind for a new generation of consumers, companies are working hard to provide products that meet the demand for information being sent to cell phones, PDAs , etc.

NAPCO also has stepped up its efforts in remote monitoring. Not only does it have a new product line, ISee Video, but it also has created a Video Technologies & Services Division to centrally manage its growing number of video and online products and services for its dealers.

One of ISee Video's products, the Video IP GatewayX24, puts four cameras (existing or new) on a dedicated, secure website, explained Judy Jones, vice president of marketing, NAPCO Security Group.   Furthermore, dealers can give their customers password-protected access to this website and have their own company's logo branded on it.   Providing this remote video monitoring gives dealers another stream of recurring revenue.

With ISee Video, alarm events can be emailed to any web-enabled computer, cell phone, or PDA. Another convenient feature for both dealers and end users is that no computer is needed at the premises where the video surveillance occurs; all that is needed is a cable or DSL modem.   So the dealer doesn't have to interact with or troubleshoot a customer's computer or even install software.  

“I see cost-effective remote monitoring becoming much more important for residential and commercial intrusion alarms because law enforcement is increasingly demanding verified response,” said Keith Jentoft , president, RSIalarm . 

RSIalarm's Videofied solution, which is sold directly to installing dealers, is a self-powered video security system that operates over the cell network for construction sites, foreclosed properties or remote infrastructure.  “We also offer an upgrade kit to bring video verification to any existing alarm system,” continued Jentoft, who noted the niche his company targets are the installed intrusion alarms that need video verification to improve police response. 

Another area where remote monitoring is heating up is in Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking. (See case study on GPS tracking on page 76.)

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