How are remote video monitoring/guarding services providing alarm dealers with opportunities to make bigger margins compared to alarm monitoring?
A traditional alarm monitoring contract is typically worth $25 a month to the dealer. The typical video monitoring contract is between $200 and $1,000 a month, depending on the application. With a traditional burglar alarm account, the wholesale central station usually charges the dealer $3 to $4 a month. So the margin is significant but the revenue is not. With video monitoring or remote guarding — for example, for the $200 service — the dealer may pay $90 to $100 to the central station. It’s not the same margin percentage, but from a revenue perspective it is significantly greater.
Could the market for remote monitoring services be advanced faster if more installing contractors were promoting these services to end-user clients? What other forces are impeding market development?
The problem is that few service providers have done it justice in the marketplace and as a result the integrators are suffering from not being able to really sell these services. Once you have some successes in different verticals, then the integrator can go to another customer that has a similar business and you can actually show them results. Then the argument becomes much more compelling. There is nothing better than a successful case study. But right now trying to sell remote guarding where you don’t have any other examples to show the end user makes the possibility of success much lower. Until you get some traction where you can relate success stories, it is going to be difficult for people to see the value.
Does the design of a video surveillance system need to be modified when factoring in remote video monitoring?
Yes and no. The equipment installed has to be compatible with remote monitoring and must be connected to the internet. The monitoring center must be able to connect to those cameras from the outside. That has to be part of the design and can be a challenge from an IT perspective. If you are going to do event monitoring, you must decide what is going to trigger the events? In most cases, such as with remote storage sites, we are using cameras that incorporate video analytics. If the customer was not interested in being proactive and merely wanted use recorded video forensically they wouldn’t need analytics or perhaps any event trigger at all.
Many of these end users will eventually make an investment in cameras anyway. Unless they consider remote guarding as part of the solution, they are probably going to spend a lot of money on their camera system and not get full value for it because it is going to be sitting there recording and all they are going to use it for is after something bad happens. More often than not when they go to look at that recorded video, they find that it is unusable or ineffective.
It’s not difficult for an integrator to sell an end user a camera system. So why can’t they sell them on remote monitoring? The reason is because customers have not made the leap of faith or understand that they have spent, say, $50,000 on a camera system and all they basically have is something that will be used to view post-event video. The end user needs to understand that the investment they are going to make anyway in the video system can be used as proactive security tool as opposed to a reactive one.
Does G4S provide wholesale monitoring services?
Yes we do but we go to market two ways. We sell the services through our own companies, like our security officer services, G4S Secure Solutions. We also sell the services wholesale through an organization called Integrator Support. They act as our broker to the rest of the security market. They are a place where integrators can go to not only purchase managed services but also get documentation, information, education, etc.
Integrators that try to use a wholesale monitoring center and just go out and sell directly to an end user are unlikely to receive the level of support they would get if they went through an organization like Integrator Support, which has a dealer toolbox. They know how to price the service and they have industry knowledge which is always invaluable.
Describe the additional training a G4S central station operator goes through in order to be qualified to provide remote guarding services.
We are a UL-Listed central station. On top of that we are a CSAA Five-Diamond Certified central station, so all of our operators have to go through two levels of CSAA courses, which provide standard central station operator training. There is very little if any video component to any of the CSAA training because nobody has yet really gotten their arms around how to train when it comes to remote video monitoring.
Because G4S has a large manned guarding company and provides substantial training to all G4S security officers, the same level of training is also available to us. As a result of that we created an additional 20-hour training course that each of our monitoring center operators goes through. It includes everything from report writing to observation skills, night surveillance, communication with law enforcement, all the things you would put a security officer through relative to the things they would be looking for when out patrolling. We not only have technically qualified operators but now they have also been through actual security officer training.
When doing a video tour, for instance, because of their training they are more likely to see something that might be unusual that someone else might not notice. If they need to interact with local authorities or even on-site guards, they speak the same language. That makes a huge difference. Every day there seems to me a few new companies offering remote video monitoring and other hosted services. I would always recommend integrators and customers do their research before trusting a center with their video monitoring. How long has the company been around? What if any certifications do they have? What is their facility like? Do they have redundancy? How is their staff trained, etc.?
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Remote Video Monitoring