Security Provider as Crime-Fighter
SecureWatch24 was founded by a former NYPD detective who envisioned providing video surveillance services with a police officer’s perspective. Today his company is a leading provider of electronic security services that relies on old-fashioned investigative skills to revitalize and protect residential complexes and other facilities.
Sometimes even a superior video surveillance solution is no match for the mean streets. A crime-infested housing complex, for instance, will remain just that without corresponding efforts to remove the troublemakers.
Deterrence + prevention + response = crime-fighting solution. Enter SecureWatch24. The New York City-based company is setting the standard for installing security contractors as being proactive, responsive agents of crime prevention rather than just deterrence.
The security services provider was founded on combining the investigative wits of veteran law enforcement professionals with sophisticated networked video technology. The experiment has been a success; SecureWatch24 has positioned itself in New York as a leading residential and commercial security company with expansion underway in Boston, Philadelphia and Tampa, Fla.
Using its own proprietary video solutions, SecureWatch24 also provides wireless monitoring, command centers staffed by former law enforcement personnel and mobile response teams. And now comes SecureWatch24’s latest initiative, which may prove of interest to independent installing security contractors: Its technology and accompanying recurring revenue model will be offered through a national dealer program the company expects to launch at the beginning of the New Year.
Home-Based to Big Apple Success
Desmond Smyth took a long and sometimes roundabout road on his way to founding SecureWatch24. As a young technology enthusiast, the livelihood he envisioned in avionics was snuffed out before it began in the mid-1970s after the aircraft industry was devastated by massive layoffs. He entered college, followed by a stint with Xerox Corp. that would hold his attention for only a few years.
Later, licking his wounds in the wake of an entrepreneurial venture gone bad, he received an invitation to attend the New York Police Department Academy. Smyth’s brother was a cop who months earlier had coaxed him to take the NYPD entry exam. Unsettled, he signed up but nonetheless was adamant that fighting crime was not in his long-term plans. But then again, life can take unexpected turns.
“For 20 years, I told people I was quitting,” he says. “It was challenging, but like anything if you put a lot into it you get a lot out.”
After earning his badge, Smyth worked to cultivate relationships with residents throughout Central Harlem. The daily patrols he was assigned to as part of the department’s community-based policing set him squarely in an interactive platform between police, the local community and local property owners.
Smyth would eventually be promoted to detective while assigned to the Bronx Narcotics Division within the Organized Crime Control Bureau. Further career achievement followed but all the while an entrepreneurial desire kindled inside him. So prior to his retirement in 2004, Smyth had already begun to implement a business plan out of his home to one day launch his own security services company.
“The early testing began in 2001, but if you ask my wife the company was in our garage in 1999,” he says. “We ran a little under the radar for a while.”
Today, SecureWatch24 is nearing 16,000 camera installations throughout New York City and beyond. The company has about 125 employees located in Manhattan, plus a R&D facility in Queens, and to back up its robust network, a redundant data center was erected in Phoenix.
The operation is more than an installing contractor specializing in video surveillance. Smyth always envisioned offering layers of security services to his clients, all of which was inspired and informed by his community-based policing and narcotics investigation experience. He identified abundant opportunity in the very crime-ridden housing complexes he once policed and helped clean up.
“While everybody chased the $300 million towers, they forgot that 70 percent of the property in New York is residential. And nobody offered solutions to these guys,” Smyth says.
SecureWatch24 augments its analog camera installations by offering armed and unarmed guard services, risk analysis, property security assessments, narcotics investigation and interdiction programs – most of which is staffed by former police officers. The concept is simple; Smyth explains:
“We are going to bring in technology. We are going to stay with you. We are going to hold your hand when a criminal incident happens if you want us to … it is an a la carte menu.”
NOC-NOC … Who’s There?
At the heart of every SecureWatch24 installation is the company’s network operation center, or NOC. Running on proprietary software developed in-house not long after the company was launched, a sole network – which has utilized H.264 compression since 2004 – hosts every single camera that SecureWatch24 installs. SecureWatch24 also manufactures its own hybrid NVR that is installed at each end user location, allowing all video to be streamed to the company’s central command center and accessed remotely.
The robust network resulted from the labors of Gene Dellaglio, senior vice president and CTO. Dellaglio, a retired NYPD veteran, is credited for developing the police department’s database used by citywide units to track case evidence collection from origin to prosecution.
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