Huffmaster launches virtual security service

Huffmaster, a Michigan-based security services company primarily known for its uniformed guard division, recently announced that it has launched a new virtual security service known as "VirSec" that it is looking to market through the dealer and integrator channel.

According to Huffmaster President and COO Peter Johnson, VirSec, which provides remote video monitoring, remote access management and hosted security services, was developed in 2008 while the company was working with one its clients to address security requirements established by the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards program.

"They sat down with us and said 'we've got to come up with a way to provide a level of security that DHS is looking for, but do it as cost-effectively as possible,'" Johnson explained. "We proposed to them the idea of putting a central person in our offices here that would have access to the camera systems that we had help them to specify and get installed post 9/11 at all of their sites. (They had) IP cameras integrated with their access control system in a way that would allow us to monitor them centrally, which was part of the original design."

Following the successful implementation of the service for this client, Johnson said the company subsequently offered it to other customers and conducted an official pilot program at an office complex in 2009.

"Once we had fully vetted the service and debugged all the associated networking issues, Internet connectivity issues and the software platforms and video management systems to use to effectively deliver this service, we then realized that there was an opportunity to effectively help end-users strike the proper balance between technology and personnel to lower the cost of their security solution," he said. "As we came to that realization, we figured the best way to get to market quickly was to tap into the existing relationships that systems integrators and security dealers have with the end-users that have already installed access control systems and perhaps IP-addressable cameras or NVRs and DVRs that could be part of the overall technology solution that enables us to provide the virtual security monitoring services."

The company first announced the availability of this reseller program at the ASIS 2011 conference last month in Orlando, which has "generated a lot of interest," according to Johnson. Dealers and integrators that sign up for the program will be provided with marketing and web materials. Resellers will also be able to rebrand the offering as their own if they choose to do so, however, Johnson said that most will probably elect to use the VirSec brand and simply place their name in front of it.

Johnson said he expects end-users that heavily utilize uniformed security officers to be the primary adopters of the service including other critical infrastructure sites, banks, commercial office spaces, and healthcare facilities. Two key differentiators of the VirSec offering, according to Johnson, is its capability to provide proactive, real-time monitoring, as well as the company's heritage of being a uniformed security provider.

"We approach this solution from that perspective. We have basically built-out our center not with the intention of being a UL-rated facility, but rather being one that is going to provide managed video and hosted video and associated services," Johnson said. "And our center is staffed with uniformed licensed security officers that are proactively using that technology to essentially create that virtual presence at the client's location. All of our staff have had that experience of being a uniformed security officer and working onsite and knowing what they're going to encounter, having that situational awareness that allows them to effectively utilize technology to interpret what's going on at the site and respond accordingly."

The VirSec operations center is based at Huffmaster headquarters in Troy, Mich., and features a myriad of built-in redundancies to ensure there is never a loss of power or Internet connectivity. Johnson said VirSec is currently utilizing video management platforms from three different vendors including Milestone Systems, SureView Systems and Honeywell. At some point, Johnson said the company plans to build a second operations center at another geographic location to have redundancy from a facility location standpoint.