Alarm contractors have an opportunity to increase their recurring monthly revenue (RMR) by educating customers about the many benefits and variety of uses of video equipment, which is the fastest growing segment in the industry.
Video — whether for event verification, staff supervision, surveillance or access control — is being employed much more commonly now that cost and quality have stabilized at a market-friendly level. Those factors allow contractors to confidently include video options in their proposals without the fear that cost will immediately scare off potential customers. Let’s take a closer look at three specific areas where video is helping installing security contractors meet their customers’ needs while expanding recurring revenue opportunities.
Video for event verification — An issue that the alarm industry has worked to improve upon is minimizing false alarms. While protocols like the Security Industry Alarm Coalition’s (SIAC) enhanced call verification (ECV) have the backing of the industry and are very effective when community leaders put them in place, some emergency response agencies still require confirmation that a crime is happening before dispatching police.
One solution to ensure response when needed is to incorporate video equipment that triggers a signal should an alarm-event condition be met, such as motion being detected when an area is to be vacant.
When an alarm event happens, a video clip automatically transmits to the central station for immediate review. Central station operators then become digital eyewitnesses to the actual event, thus empowering them to tell the PSAP that there is a crime in progress by describing what they saw at the property. This witness verification raises the priority for dispatch and hastens response by officers who want to make arrests at the scene.
Video guard and tours — These are custom applications you can offer clients as another method to maintain security in a specific area or throughout a property while minimizing labor cost.
For video guard service, the subscriber specifies a window of time during which a central station operator monitors a recurring event via a system-connected video camera. Often, this is used to ensure the validity of a transaction, such as delivery of materials or depositing of funds into a safe each night.
This real-time observation of events can potentially replace or reduce the cost of guard services and/or personnel who are hired to ensure the integrity of such events. Also, by outsourcing the supervision of recurring transactions to a third-party company, the possibilities of collusion are virtually eliminated.
A video guard tour is another customizable service that could eliminate or significantly lessen the cost of hiring a team of guards. For both homes and businesses of all sizes, central station monitors are able to “tour” a property by accessing a specified list of cameras and scanning for exceptional conditions, events or unauthorized entry. This type of visual tour of the property can take place multiple times each day, depending upon the dealer’s instructions.
Digital doorman — As another labor-minimizing service, your central station can act as a customer’s doorman. Depending on the level of security needed at the facility, digital doorman service can be arranged to keep an image record of every person entering a premises for later review (if needed) or a central station operator can be empowered to grant or deny access to certain zones, as spelled out in dealer-defined protocols.
The image-logging service is a simple and cost-effective way for a customer to see who was in the premises at a certain time/date should there be an incident that inquires investigation. The more intensive access control service requires central station operators to confirm identification information — often a passcode — before allowing a person access to certain zones.
As with any alarm system, dealers must first analyze the needs of their customer and design the system, accordingly. Although cost is almost always a factor in a customer’s decision making, dealers can more confidently create proposals that include video services. By pointing out how the customer can improve security and transfer costs from human supervision to technology solutions, video will continue to gain acceptance, especially as each new generation of product becomes more robust and at the same time, less expensive.
Kevin Lehan is Manager of Public Relations for Des Plaines, Ill.-based Emergency24 Inc. He also serves as executive director of the Illinois Electronic Security Association (IESA).