In the past 15 years there has been a lot of buzz in the electronic security industry about video monitoring. I’m using the term “video monitoring” as a catchall to describe video verification, video surveillance and all forms of related monitoring services. Despite all the hype, video monitoring historically has had very little actual penetration into the electronic security industry. There have been a few success stories, but they seem to be the exception and not the rule.
Video monitoring has mostly failed to penetrate the mainstream until now for the following reasons: 1) it was expensive for consumers and very difficult for alarm dealers to design and install; 2) traditional alarm dealers never really embraced it and always seemed to harbor trepidation about venturing into this field; 3) very few central stations were truly equipped to handle turnkey video monitoring, and their operators weren’t trained on its unique protocols; 4) many of the systems, especially with outdoor cameras, generated incredible volumes of false alarms.
However, video monitoring is growing in acceptance in a big way in the electronic security industry. In fact, 2013 could be the big coming out party for these technologies and services. In the past few years, many new manufacturers have entered the video monitoring market and a few existing players have reinvented themselves.
Contrary to the bygone business impediments mentioned previously, the state of the market today is being driven by the following attributes: 1) affordability and ease of installation on many of the current systems; 2) manufacturers’ support and training to overcome the unease of the traditional alarm installer; 3) many central stations have come up to speed on video monitoring technology and on operator training; 4) advanced analytics are helping to solve the issue of rampant false alarms.
New Revenue Prospects Are Wide Ranging
Another significant change is that many of the new video systems today offer a critical component: cloud-based services. These services allow the customer to store and access offsite video rather than accessing it through an expensive onsite DVR, which is also susceptible to theft. These cloud-based services can generate recurring monthly revenue (RMR) for the installing companies, as well as allow for mobile apps to add even more sizzle and attraction to consumers.
It is worth noting that in many jurisdictions video verified alarms are run at a higher priority by local law enforcement than a nonverified intrusion alarm. This is a big selling point to many businesses that not only want their premises protected but also want intruders apprehended. It is also a big deal to insurance companies that get tagged for claims when a burglar sets off a traditional alarm yet still gets away with the loot. Insurance companies are natural proponent for video monitoring because it reduces their exposure through its effectiveness in apprehending criminals.
Ironically, the sluggish economy is also contributing to growth in video monitoring as many traditional alarm dealers are scrambling for ways to generate new business and new streams of revenue. Some of the more entrepreneurial dealers are venturing into video monitoring to provide a seamless way to open new markets and to sell innovative services to existing customers. It’s a natural progression for RMR-based alarm dealers and it can help them to turn a negative into a positive.
Another viable market for video monitoring services is guard replacement. Guards can be expensive and obviously can’t be in all places at all times. A well designed camera system can replace guards, and “talk down” technology can allow the central station to verbally interact with anyone onsite. This is a very effective tool for running off unwanted persons from a protected site. These types of systems can generate thousands of dollars per month in RMR.
For those daring and bold enough to pursue video monitoring, the rewards can be enormous. I encourage all alarm dealers and systems integrators to closely consider their current business model and learn how to adopt these promising services into their portfolios.
Mark Matlock is Senior Vice President at United Central Control Inc. (UCC), a wholesale monitoring station based in San Antonio.