Do the Remote Monitoring Dance

March 9, 2011
If you think it, they will come

Giuliana and Bill Rancic do it. My neighbor does it. What are we talking about? Remote monitoring, of course!

If you don't know who Giuliana is I guess you aren't as connected to reality television as I shamefully admit I am. She's on the E! Network but recently The Chicago Tribune chronicled the Rancic's Hinsdale, Ill., home renovation. And lo and behold, a caption under a photo read: "iPads installed around the house make monitoring household systems simple."

For those in the security industry, remote monitoring has been around forever, but it's been the central station primarily fielding surveillance and controls. But now there's much more to the equation, namely the ability to view surveillance and other system status via the iPad, smartphone, notebook or other similarly connected device.

Before you start thinking this takes the central station out of the equation, think again. While it means monitoring centers have to add value in services and other essentials, the subscriber still needs the professional to adeptly field emergencies, summon police, act as an interface and provide the level of interoperability beyond being able to see what's happening or adjust or set controls. And there are so many different flavors of remote monitoring as a managed service-some still to be imagined.

In fact, according to Morgan Hertel, vice president and general manager of MACE CSSS, Anaheim, Calif., the company promotes and offers its customers these remote monitoring services: response to alarms using video as verification; video analytics to detect intrusion or any video analytic alerts; interactive virtual tours; virtual doormen; remote access; point of sale integration and exceptions; video escorts and concierge services; equipment and inventory management; network and/or IP monitoring; and remote kiosk and service platforms.

Who's a fit for remote monitoring?

Hertel said remote monitoring is a fit with many verticals and customers. "It's hard to make a solid distinction between who can or can't use this. But as technology gets better, consumers are getting better alternatives," he said. For commercial premises, any site that can't justify the cost of a guard or wants to augment their services would be a fit, he said, adding that MACE's remote monitoring customers range from high-end residential to fast food to armories.

Viewpoint CRM, based in Lowell, Mass., literally built its monitoring center on the concept of video surveillance, audio and remote monitoring, according to Michael Hanlon, vice president of Channel Sales and Marketing. The company's model includes a proprietary voice-enabled camera technology that provides a physical presence and reinforces that cameras are monitored. "Remote monitoring ranges from basic video verification to high-end alternatives to guard services. The technology we deploy is basically the same; it's the response or tasks that are different," he said. "Audio is a tremendous differentiator. By using cameras and voice-down announcements, we create a blanket security effect for parking lots and more," Hanlon said.

Viewpoint CRM has deployed audio since day one and all its agents have headsets and are highly trained in responding to audio and video alerts.

"We create a robust, proactive deployment that is a true replacement for guards, rather than a line on the computer with a low quality alarm clip. There is true ROI for the customer and the monitoring center. It's a robust managed service."