Coming of Age

Integrators should investigate interactive video monitoring

Securing outdoor assets can be a tricky proposition. For starters, traditional outdoor security systems are expensive. Motion sensors, fence sensors and visible-light cameras offer limited capabilities that make them prone to false alarms. In fact, many of these technologies cause so many false alarms that some operators tend to assume all alarms are false.

Customers may even choose to cancel their service for outdated, passive and inferior theft-prevention equipment that has proved time and again to be inadequate for providing the outdoor security they require to protect their assets. This does not bode well for integrators who offer these solutions and services. It’s no longer enough for integrators to rely on doing more installations to grow their companies, which is, at best, a break-even proposition.

The key to securing commercial properties is to implement a system that allows for proactive prevention rather than simply reactive cleanup and investigation. Security guards are one approach to outdoor security, but they may not be cost-effective or practical in all locations.

Today, more and more end users understand the benefits of live video monitoring— thanks in part to the growth of residential “smart doorbell” products and their positive impact. The good news is that there are costeffective, high-performing solutions in the security sector that enable improved video monitoring, and smart business owners are seeking out and working with integrators who can deliver them.

Technologies Accelerating the Growth of Video Monitoring

Where outdoor video monitoring has traditionally been plagued by nuisance alerts, that is changing drastically with today’s more stable, higher-quality cameras. These new video solutions feature refined detection, more efficient video compression, and proven software. Many of them include improved image sensors, embedded processors, video analytics, deep learning, and two-way audio functionality for real-time response. The result is a new generation of multi-spectral solutions optimized for wide area monitoring and perimeter protection.

The most effective of these solutions typically consists of a variety of advanced technologies, with thermal imaging and classification analytics serving as the cornerstone. Multiple thermal sensors can be deployed to deliver 24/7 monitoring regardless of lighting or weather conditions. Thermal cameras naturally produce the type of sharp, highcontrast images that enable higher-performing analytics. In thermal images, people and vehicles clearly stand out, eliminating dependence on exterior lighting to create good contrast. Because the analytics don’t struggle to “see” objects of interest, the result is a powerful, reliable intrusion detection solution that produces fewer false positives.

A properly designed and installed system leveraging these technologies can detect intruders and be used for video verification of events by a live person. In addition to remote response, event video can also show remote operators exactly where an intrusion occurred, as well as how many people or vehicles were involved. With access to both video of the event and live video, operators can confirm with absolute certainty that the alarm is valid and that immediate response will likely result in an arrest. In many cases, police departments prioritize response to these calls.

These verified alerts assure law enforcement that the notifications were not another false alarm or an employee who returned to retrieve their phone, keys or other item that was left behind. Thus, real-time alerting enables maximum response time, which can save end users from loss of merchandise or equipment, business interruptions or vandalism.

Realizing Increased Security and Reduced Costs for End Users

For business customers, interactive video monitoring offers numerous benefits to a well-designed and effective outdoor security system, most notably increased security and reduced costs. In addition to remote guarding and patrol as well as alarm verification, there are many applications of interactive video monitoring.

Common examples include remote escorting, supervision, managed gate or door services, system health checks, operations and procedures auditing, and even cloud-hosted video solutions. To be effective, however, requires professional video monitoring by trained central station operators who know how to interpret video and determine the right response.

From a cost perspective, for example, an onsite security guard employed to cover premises only during non-business hours could cost between $10,000 and $12,000 per month. Using interactive video, the same site can be remotely monitored using with equal or better effectiveness for under $1,000 per month. In some circumstances and locations, customers can realize ROI on their solution investment in as little as three months.

Seizing the RMR Opportunity for Integrators

Customers demand and even expect the ability to do more with video and additional monitoring services, so integrators must be ready and willing to meet these needs. Combined with the broad base of monitoring customers, this offers tremendous potential for increasing recurring monthly revenue (RMR) with video monitoring services. In fact, video RMR margins are typically 30 to 100 percent per device or service. The key is for integrators to shift their mindsets from to selling solutions that solve customers’ problems rather than selling equipment, systems and services.

Integrators know that generating predictable, dependable RMR requires creating more value from each sale by offering extended services that increase customers’ overall level of security and reduce operational cost. However, the onus to provide interactive video monitoring does not have to fall on integrators themselves, as most central stations commonly offer some form of video monitoring services.

The recommended path forward for integrators is to find a partner, one who has experience with video monitoring and working with events initiated by video analytics. Once a partnership has been formed, the next step is to create a menu of services, which will largely depend on the monitoring center’s capabilities, and create packages of bundled services that are easy to sell and understand. At the same time, it is important that these services are priced to be profitable. Finally, offerings should be scalable, giving customers the ability to easily add services in the future.

The best advice, however, is that integrators and monitoring centers must be able to deliver services as promised. Failure to do so will result in customers canceling their services, which once again creates an RMR gap.

The Payoff

The reality is customers no longer have to accept outdated, inferior security solutions that are incapable of protecting their outdoor assets and perimeters. With advanced and emerging solutions, including thermal imaging and video analytics, integrators are able to offer surveillance systems that not only effectively deter crime but also generate cost-savings for end users.

These interactive video monitoring solutions and systems create a win-win situation, providing a new level of security while simultaneously opening the door to new revenue opportunities for integrators.

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Security Today.

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