Central Stations Ease Entry Into A/V Monitoring

“All talk, no action!” That’s what many security systems contractors say when asked about remote video and audio monitoring. They are extremely interested in the technology and its potential applications but are sitting on the sidelines until the market stabilizes.

Some dealers, however, like Vancouver, Wash.-based Global Security and Communications, have been providing two-way voice services to customers for years. Sonitrol has been providing video monitoring for seven years and audio detection for even longer.

Despite these and other notable exceptions, many security systems contractors have been hesitant to get involved in remote audio and video monitoring. Gradually, however, all of this is changing. ADT in Boca Raton, Fla., which has been providing these services to select customers for the past three years, just launched its audio and video monitoring program nationwide in November 2002.

Independent dealers/integrators are also rolling out their own programs, often with the help of central stations that provide training as well as advice on getting into the market. For many dealers and integrators, central stations may be the best way to get involved without getting burned.

Central Stations Can Help With Training, Technology

Fountain Valley, Calif.-based Jacobs Marketing Group (JMG) began its interactive video monitoring program in June with the help of National Alarm Computer Center (NACC) of Irvine, Calif. One of JMG’s customers, a large sporting goods chain, asked the security contractor for help, due to a rash of smash-and-grabs.

Convenience Stores, ATMs Are Good Applications

The possible applications for remote video and audio monitoring appear to be endless. In general, however, the best applications are convenience stores, jewelry stores, retail, fast food, ATMs, fenced-in car lots and even utilities with large perimeters.

The benefits of video and audio monitoring are slowly becoming evident now that more systems are being installed. With convenience stores in particular, the combination of two-way voice and video is very effective.
Security, however, isn’t the only appropriate application for video and/or audio central station monitoring. With fast-food chains, this technology can be used to provide marketing services by monitoring a restaurant’s drive-through.

A central station, in conjunction with manufacturers and distributors can guide an integrator/dealer in the right direction when it comes to applications. Also, many offer training to both the security systems contractor, as well as the end user.

IT Continues to Be a Barrier for Some Dealers

Another technical challenge facing security systems contractors is the integration of video to networks and the Internet.

Fortunately for security systems contractors, once they get involved in this technology and understand the concepts and rules that need to be followed, the IT world isn’t so scary after all.

Having a good understanding of network-based applications is important for contractors wanting to get involved in video and audio monitoring, even if the majority of their installations still involve telephone lines. Having technicians who can insert IP addresses and gateways, as well as know how to interface with IT departments is critical. IT managers may be concerned about bandwidth issues, and installers need to be able to competently address those concerns.

Also, broadband video monitoring applications will require an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) backup. Much of the time the monitoring system can be connected to the IT department’s UPS.

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