These days Larry Folsom is juggling two professional hats. He’s the owner of American Video and Security, a Las Vegas-based installing security contractor, and president of I-View Now. The latter is an upstart provider of cloud-based video verification services. Leveraging video to verify alarms has been a particular interest of Folsom’s going back several years when he was a co-partner in A-1 Security, which was acquired by Stanley CSS in 2008. He joins us to discuss the topic.
Aside from business opportunity, what motivates you about video verification?
I’ve been so enamored with this vision that verification isn’t really going to be an option. I live in Las Vegas and we’ve had non-response for 12 years. To me what happened in San Jose, Calif. [unannounced adoption of non-response policy in December 2011], looks like the tip of the iceberg.
Our property values in our country continue to go down. The municipalities have less and less money in their coffers. So I think the burden for verification is going to be pushed back onto us. My end users are also becoming more and more technically sophisticated, so the idea of a blind burglar alarm just does not make sense.
What mainly has stunted the growth of video verification previously?
Up until now it required an investment where you bought software. You bought hardware. You had to pay some smart people who would manage the ecosystem, and you had to buy the bandwidth. There have been a lot of reasons why video verification hasn’t caught on. One reason is the equipment has been difficult and expensive. Another issue has been the central station. Having had a central station myself, it’s sort of like imaginary barbed wire and they push that perimeter of that patrol base out because they don’t want additional distractions in the central station.
Where we changed the paradigm is we charge a small monthly fee per account and the central station does not buy software from us. We are not a database in the central station. We associate video events with alarm events.
The central station software in our industry is really quite awesome in the way that it handles signals. We all understand that. The only problem has been how do we get this transactional database to do video well when video is like hand grenades to hamburgers. That is where we see our job, to associate video clips with those alarm events.
What excites you about the industry and what troubles you?
I would say that I have a half full, half empty view. I see [the marketplace presenting] nothing but opportunity. I don’t think there has ever been more opportunity than there is now because of the way technology is changing. Our ability to protect clients today is so exciting. Our job is to make sure we are designing these [systems] in ways that match the client, how the client values what it is that we are offering.
As far as a sore spot, I don’t look five years from now and see a wild recovery coming. I think we will continue wrestling with the economy. Certainly in Nevada there were a lot more companies five years ago. It was a false economy and there were a lot of people who probably should not have been in the business. This economy is putting people out of business who are not capable of adapting. This truly is the ‘new normal.’ It is a very complex environment.