Virtual Guarding and Doormen

Virtual guarding and virtual doormen are two flavors of remote video monitoring security services in great demand. They are, in fact, managed services that add value to the integrator's suite of products and offerings and are a great way to beef up video at the protected premises with mobility and remote monitoring.

You have to understand the different types of video monitoring before you can effectively ascertain what your prospect wants and how you will accomplish their goals. There is interactive monitoring that can be piped proactively to smart phones or other Internet connections real time. There are guard patrols that use preset parameters to check the protected premises for any exceptions. There is guard replacement that interactively patrols a facility, notes any exceptions and sounds alarms in real time while interacting directly with a central monitoring station or other guards on the premises. In this scenario or others, live audio adds a deterrent and real-time notification factor.

However, integrators have to do their due diligence on the companies they might consider to help them offer virtual guarding, virtual doormen or other remote monitoring services. Due to the size and diversity of the security industry, and both the concentration of control by major players alongside the overall industries desire for change, many of the great strides and advances that companies like Viewpoint CRM are experiencing are being muddied by the rhetoric of the 'warehouse' central stations that, while operating as they always have, simply have added some catch phrases to their Web sites, a few buzzwords in their sales pitch and a slide to their PowerPoints. Be prepared to ask point blank: What is it that I'm really getting with the service and how do you describe your video offering as far as what it can accomplish? Also, is audio included and is it one or two-way? In other words: Just how interactive is the service?

Viewpoint CRM was conceived, funded, built and operated as a true adjunct to guards, doormen and on-site concierge services. The growth in the industry has come from this new alternative in a $29 billion industry, guard services, that historically has offered little flexibility. Not only can one guard only be in one place at a time, but many posts require immediate interaction, which is an ideal opportunity for interactive services. Moreover, sites experience seasonal, weather-related and other variables to their security needs while the staffing remains static. Viewpoint offers immediate escalation or ramped up agent involvement based on real time need and demand whereas one guard is one guard and that is what you get!

Integrator perceptions of service

Integrator Team AVS, Boston, has partnered with Viewpoint to provide an alternative to guards and doormen for five years, successfully selling systems of over 100 cameras and realizing RMR in the thousands that provide Team AVS clients savings in the thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. "Viewpoint is screening and processing visitors at our building entrances, and at one Fortune 100 company, effectively replaced the client's own command center personnel to not only provide dramatic savings, but a client endorsed 'overall improvement,'" according to Eric Caruso, sales manager, Team AVS, Boston.

All the traction has not come through the augmentation or replacement of guards. Many sites that could never have budgeted, or properly managed on-site security can still present tremendous opportunity for enhanced monitoring services. Utilizing quality cameras (often coupled with analytics) combined with interactive audio, those same sites can achieve real-time interactive response that is scripted, immediate and effective. For example, a car dealer who may have used an expensive but highly ineffective "roving patrol" can now have the interactive central monitoring station detect and identify an after-hours shopper or trespasser and immediately "voice down" in the following manner: "Good evening Ruben Toyota, this is security doing a live video patrol at 11:12 p.m. To the two men in the red pickup truck, we are now closed. Please come back tomorrow during normal business hours." Offices, high-rises, parking lots, construction sites, warehouses, scrap yards, you name it. With traditional intrusion systems in place an intruder wouldn't be detected until he had entered the protected premises and by that time it is too late for prevention. Viewpoint can begin involvement from outside the fence line, observe the behavior and then provide a scripted, consistent response based specifically on what the client is looking for. In short, they can prevent things from happening.

"Whether it's protecting a construction site telling trespassers to leave or providing campuswide video, remote monitoring has allowed Security Solutions Northwest to offer best practices, increase margins and improve our business valuation with monthly revenue," according to Jamie Vos, a principal of the Bellingham, Wash., firm.

To be successful, integrators have to align the level of monitoring and desires of the end-user with the offering. It's important, crucial, for the systems integrator to listen to the end-user in terms of what they are trying to accomplish and what their goals are with regards to the installation.

"Viewpoint's industry leading command center allows our clients to confidently augment or replace their doormen, concierge and gate attendants," said Shannon Logsdon, vice president of Sales, Rapid Security Solutions LLC, Sarasota, Fla. "The platform not only justifies a system with a true ROI, but provides end-users with a service that is never late, sick or away from the desk. The multi-tasking capabilities allows one agent to check-in a guest, or delivery, while simultaneously, another agent is responding to an infraction at the pool, or dumpster area, speaking to the violator directly and avoiding a dispatch to a designated person or the police," she said.

Much more than security

Of course there is still traction in the traditional burglar alarm or intrusion detection monitoring space. Whereas Viewpoint is being used as a means to improve security and reduce costs as they compare to guards, Viewpoint is also seeing great demand in typical intrusion detection and perimeter premises monitoring. The days of receiving a door contact or PIR motion detection alarm and then dispatching the police or other authorities is coming to an end; businesses demand greater control and information and systems and protocols such as those provided by Viewpoint allow them greater control and protection around the clock. Viewpoint's remote monitoring not only creates a more secure environment, but their services can be used for increased rule enforcement, better business practices, decreased shrinkage and increased sales. Point of sale (POS) integration allows for both real time and audit review for store compliance and even payment card industry regulations. Random or scheduled "look ins" allow for stocking confirmation, uniform compliance and safety evaluation and support and as technology continues to improve services continue to expand.

For offices, high-rises and parking facilities, interactive video monitoring is a virtual security guard that enhances security and offers much more than guards or traditional intrusion detection. It can be used in many different ways and a variety of different models can fit the needs of your end user and their vertical market.

Being informed will allow you to offer your clients the services they need and add value.

Did You Know?

According to Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, more than one-third of the energy consumed in the United States is used in buildings. Energy management and lighting controls signal opportunity for integrators who can grab these skill-sets quickly.

Michael Hanlon is the vice president of Channel Sales and Marketing for Viewpoint CRM, based in Lowell, Mass.