Communication shift in central stations

It is evident that communication options for central stations are becoming more robust and plentiful. With multiple alert and viewing solutions being delivered to devices as a standout trend, so too are the back room business solutions to record and monitor access. This month, we heard from seven key central station players on what else we can expect to see happen with central station platforms, Web-based solutions, remote monitoring and more.

Acadian Monitoring Services - Trends: There is a growing trend in central station automation platforms for programs that take on a single point of integration for multiple technologies in the field. It is important the central station is able to receive traditional alarm panel and access control traffic while linking the event to the video and audio in a single interface. Utilizing these capabilities creates an interactive monitoring solution. Web-based Solutions: The trend is already in motion toward Web-based services software. From the central station vantage point, both dealers and consumers demand easy access via the Web. The days of access via VPN and terminal services or anything that requires even a thin client installation are not going to sell. Remote Monitoring: Central stations utilizing video automation platforms are now employing personnel with IT networking to negotiate the end-to-end network communication solution.-Blane Comeaux, vice president, Acadian Monitoring Services, Lafayette, La.

ADS Security - Trends: Automation software is increasingly being used to gather and respond to events in various ways that allow interaction more directly with the customer. This includes communicating via e-mail and texting methods. Faxing and paper reports are no longer the method of choice. The industry is beginning to witness the way panels talk to the central station. Web-based Solutions: There is a transition going on to more IP based communication methods including the replacement of hardware receivers. New software packages are being developed to increase RMR. Remote Monitoring: There will be a need to adapt to the desire of the end-user engaged in electronic lifestyles. This includes having to report to clients electronically in various forms as well as providing information that is readily available when and wherever they want it. This takes creativity in interfacing with the customer. As such, mobile applications are becoming an important aspect of business as the adoption of these technologies continues to rise.-James Cartwright, IT director and Lela Mullins, senior vice president, ADS Security, Nashville, Tenn.

Bold Technologies - Trends: Alarm automation has become a differentiation point from central station to central station and truly is much more than just the automation of handling an alarm. Automation software has taken on a more critical role as technologies enable so many new revenue generating and efficiency gathering opportunities. The software has become the brain center of the entire operation. End-users demand broader levels of service, greater technology to take their central stations into more revenue generating arenas. There is only one real trend that matters: giving the customer what they want in order to achieve their goals. Software has to be a toolbox, an enabling point. The security industry is as competitive as it has ever been and software has to provide a platform for competition. Web-based Solutions: Web-based service allows for many possible solutions so there is greater emphasis on monitoring technology. With the release of Microsoft Windows Server 2010 will come a variety of reliable possibilities. Central stations can accept signals in so many more formats and from various sources now. The account itself will dictate transmission types and formats. Remote Monitoring: Provide value. Offering additional bundled services and a higher value keeps businesses thriving. Offering those higher services at a competitively priced rate is simply the nature of business regarding this industry.-Chuck Speck, vice president, Bold Technologies, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Dice - Trends: There is a growing interest in video technologies, as well as a universal solution that will fill the need for all service and software solutions into one easy-to-use system. There is also high demand for advancements in technology, service and products alike - and it's important to ensure they are delivered to be fast, efficient, stable and secure. Our automation is helping to improve the quality of service, and overall increasing the RMR of central station companies. Web-based Solutions: Seen as vital in our industry to more and more central stations, is the power to grant access and more responsibility to dealers and customers. A world class way to do this is through Web-based solutions. Remote Monitoring: Remote products are versatile and needed everywhere, and our solutions have combined the power to connect everything from GPS mapping, service tickets, alarm tests, credit card processing, documentation printing and signature capture - along with other feature-rich options, all on mobile devices - such as cell phones, to be at the fingertips of in-the-field personnel. -Cliff Dice, CEO and president, DICE Corp., Bay City, Mich.

Electronix Systems - Trends: With central station software becoming more and more automated there is a shift towards paperless reporting. Activity reports and other information are being delivered to dealers and end-users by means of text messages and e-mails. This has replaced the faxing and mailing. Central stations are also moving toward integrating into other software platforms such as accounting software, service/inspections solutions, sales and CRMs. Web-based Solutions: Customers are more gadgets friendly and reliant on Web access. Our industry is no different. Customers want the ability to view activity and update their information in real time. Customer/dealer portals and portals for technicians to access in the field are more common place. Remote Monitoring: We are able to offer our customer the ability to remotely control their alarm systems through mobile devices on the Web. Internet and GSM cellular monitoring is growing and being adopted as a reliable form of communication. Hardware devices such as receivers are becoming more advanced and some are being replaced by software. Central station software and monitoring will continue to move towards Internet and mobile solutions.-Brad Swindell, IT specialist and Fred Leonardo, president, Electronix Systems Central Station Alarms, Huntington Station, N.Y.

Micro Key - Trends: A trend being witnessed in central station software is the creation of integration with other technologies to increase operator productivity at one station. Historically, operators would be trained on multiple applications: access control, video verification, PERS and GPS tracking. As far as trends in business software and software for alarms the industry is moving to a fully integrated single database solution. Remote Monitoring: The adaptation of moving more companies towards remote monitoring is being accomplished several ways. With options such as e-mail alerts based on an alarm event, which is not that new; along with video motion alerts which is, the demand for these services will continue and the increase in RMR from these services is flourishing.-Wayne Torrens, president, Micro Key Solutions, Kissimmee, Fla.

Security Information Systems - Trends: Trends include the increased use of IP based video communications used for alarm verification and access verification. We are also seeing more intuitive and automated management tools for central station operations. Other business trends include account management tools for dealers and end users for staff operations to increase efficiency and consistency in operations. Web-based Solutions: New techniques in alarm software, such as dispatching and the verification of alarms via IP video, the Internet and communications to cells phones will continue to remain popular. There is integration happening and it is being done, as an example, through the use of specialized virtual receivers that are customized to integrate with various video, cellular, IP and access control vendors. Remote monitoring: Recently with the ability to provide remote monitoring over many more mediums, we have also seen challenges in the form of personal issues to it and computer/hardware support including obstacles with logistics and general control issues. These developments should not replace the safety and security of a UL-listed central station.-Greg Gilbert, marketing manager, Security Information Systems, Orlando, Fla.