The future of monitoring services checks every solutions box

Dec. 18, 2020
The “New” Dice Corporation has taken technology and services far beyond the traditional constraints

When Avi Lupo and his team chartered a new technology and business course for DICE Corporation, he envisioned them as being agents of change. Just as the telco industry has been an example of technological change, he sees a similar evolution taking place in the security space. The metamorphosis of DICE into what is now being rebranded as the New DICE is a purposeful exercise in repositioning the perception of what monitoring represents in the current technology and social landscape by integrating new solutions driven by devices stacked across the IoT universe. It is a new monitoring and business services paradigm powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, big data and metadata fueling myriad analytics that are integrated into audio and video.

In other words, this is not your daddy’s stodgy old monitoring business.

“The evolution of the telco industry is an example of how we view the world with those changes. Sure, there are changes in equipment, but actually, the changes in service offerings by the telco industry to their customers. The moving from before cellphones when it was just a landline where you picked up the phone and called in, to a wireless solution, and then voicemail to a conference call in -- all those evolutionary phases of service that have taken us to where it is today. Just think about all those changes and how they changed the business model of those players,” says Lupo, Co-President of DICE Corporation.
“When we talk about the security industry, we see the exact same thing. We have an evolution of the security industry moving from the old simple alarm panel, a central station offering with a simple alarm, opening/closing reports, and some PERS in the beginning. That was it. Twenty years ago, with OzVision and others, we started with some video services. But if you really think about the changes in the world in the past 20 years and the changes in our industry, there's really been little to no significant change. Understanding that the world today is powered by AI, by big data, by all those new technologies and leaves us an industry that has not fully realized its potential. That’s the reason that we decided to invest millions of dollars into the company with developing those technologies because we believe that the world is changing, we believe that the industry is changing, and we believe that whatever is being done in 2020, or in the next three to five years, that the industry will look very different based on how all these new technologies evolve and how they are implemented.”

Migrating Beyond the Basics

The New DICE vision is to migrate beyond basic security monitoring, using some of the powerful technologies that the company has developed that help unlock potential opportunities for command centers and integrators to provide a new world of automated and smart services, which would also drive increased RMR and decreased operational time and resources.

Lupo understands that the market perception of DICE as a software company for monitoring stations must move forward powered by the event management structure and the infrastructure that it now offers to its partners. That begins with its distinct business divisions, including DICE Office, Monitoring, Video, Resiliency, Mobile and Comms. The software solution for central station monitoring has been the company’s stalwart, but DICE now also offers advance telephony solutions as a registered telco and ISP provider to organizations in and out of the security space, in addition to their recent incursion into the video space, understanding that cloud-based video and other video technologies will dominate the future business analytics of the industry.

Says Lupo: “This is a statement that we strongly believe and the reason we did this heavy investment, we believe that the industry needs to change before they are forced to just to keep up.”

A testament to that commitment and the New DICE’s ability to see the big picture is its development of everything IoT. Lupo explains that even though he stills sees his company as an events-management platform, they see the world as a giant IoT network.

“IoT runs the world. From the chip inside the micro(chip) to the vehicle, alarm sensor, or a camera; we view all these devices as connected IoT devices. What we developed is a centralized platform that is capable of handling and managing an unlimited number of devices -- IoT devices with heavy priority and actual work-order protocols. We see the current and future opportunities in the industry going far beyond just managing cameras and alarm sensors. It's all about IoT devices driving today’s technology and things we can’t even imagine into the future,” Lupo adds.

The usually staid PERS market is another technology sector that the New DICE solution is looking to future-proof according to Lupo. He envisions the market moving PERS devices into smart houses that can basically learn the behavior of the people living in that house and send information contained in virtual files of those individuals up into the cloud for storage and data retrieval.

“Basically, the system will take that virtual profile of the home’s occupants and would have the intelligence to flag any abnormal behavior. The system will, in real-time, be smart enough to notify either family members, perhaps a central station, or even connect directly to the 911 centers for help,” explains Lupo. “We're investing now in the next generation of what we believe will be the PERS solution of the future…where there is no need for people to do anything other than to be themselves, and the system will be smart enough to learn their lifestyle, record events to create a profile in accordance with their lifestyle and be there when needed and completely invisible when it's not needed.”

How to Address the Impact of COVID

DICE President and CEO Cliff Dice has stressed the concept of resiliency and disaster recovery as a cornerstone of the business for close to two decades. This was an outlier for a central station software monitoring company. But as DICE built its video analytics and cloud platforms, resiliency capabilities expanded.

“On the front end, when it comes to resiliency, understanding that cloud is pretty much the future of everything, and it's more secure than having non-cloud platforms, it allows the natural migration to what is happening now with remote working and the virtual workplace,” Lupo says. “I can tell you that in the first few weeks of COVID, we got with DICE central stations and had over 1,000 operators working from home. To clarify, the way to work with the DICE solution is that the software -- if we're talking about the central-station software -- has the PBX that resides on the cloud, the software is on the cloud, virtual receivers are on the cloud. With all the solutions residing on the cloud and in the same data centers, there is a redundancy.”

With the coronavirus still raging, the ability to have an operator work remotely and not in the main building is both a safety and security advantage, according to Lupo. 

“When (operators) receive signals, they handle both outbound calls and the inbound coming calls…going to the cloud. People working could be anywhere, and the system was designed to be like that. Basically, you can start to work from anywhere, which opens new opportunities and new business models for either current central stations or new types of businesses for the security CCTV integrators. It's a variation on the old message that we want to provide to the industry a new way of doing business versus the old way we’re used to of the typical central stations in the market. Resiliency, disaster recovery, remote working and virtual receivers, along with many more potential options in the future, is really our core business more than just a software or PBX,” Lupo says.

An advanced take on video-monitoring services is another platform that Lupo views as a potential gamechanger not only during the pandemic but also as a future-proof option for systems integrators. His team envisions the expanding market of video monitoring services running the gamut of virtual guard and doorman services to video visitor management and more.

“We’re looking at a different mindset when it comes to monitoring and interactive monitoring. And that's a new message to the industry. When you think about video-monitoring services, traditionally it's all about the central stations that have the capability to provide video services to the integrators that are selling the video solution and then the monitoring company does the configuration for the central station to enable their video services,” explains Lupo, admitting it is a costly enterprise in both technology and manpower. Mid-sized integrators to large-size integrators who do video and have sold camera systems for many years may have 20, 50, or even 100 accounts that they can service with video. Their RMR from video services often doesn’t match the labor-intensive effort needed to maintain their service. So, now there is a real opportunity for integrators running video monitoring services to grow revenue and at the same time control their own business operations.

“We see the video side very differently. The way that we build a platform, and that's part of our business model, we enable CCTV integrators -- for a few hundred dollars a month -- to get our platform, that’s a full-blown interactive platform that enables them to provide all those robust video services. Some of those services are manpower services, which means operators need to handle them, but some of them are automatic services that the system allows them to provide (without staff),” adds Lupo. “So, central stations are providing manpower services to the dealer; but the technology, the control of technology, is in the hands of the integrator. The concept is that the center of gravity of technology today is in the hands of the individual central stations that are willing do the investment -- they're the ones that are providing technology services and manpower to their CCTV dealers.”

About the Author:

Steve Lasky is the Editorial Director of the Endeavor Media Security Group and is a 34-year veteran of the security industry. He can be reached at [email protected].