Rapid Response Monitoring’s Morgan Hertel Immersing Himself in Changing Market

Industry veteran Morgan Hertel is making a months-long transition from his previous role as an operations executive at Rapid Response Monitoring.

SSI: Rapid is bullish on two-way audio for residential systems. Why so?

Hertel: We do a lot of two-way – medical two-way, mobile two-way, and a lot of residential and commercial. We also do some Sonitrol so we understand two-way very well and audio in general. In the two-way market today for residential burglary, one of the things that has been slowly changing, mostly because of social reasons, is people do not have home phones any longer.

You have an alarm that goes off at home and if you have two-way audio, I can talk to whoever is in the home in seconds. But if I don’t have two-way audio, probably the next phone number I have is going to be the owner’s cellphone. Maybe it’s the kids who set off the alarm or the maid or in-laws – who knows? – but that person has no idea who is at the house. And we are not talking to the person at the house, we’re talking to somebody who is outside of the house and doesn’t know what is going on. They are going to have to make a decision.

Two-way audio at the burglary level solves a lot of those kinds of problems because we can be in contact with them immediately without the need of a home phone. There is a lot to be said for that. There is a value proposition all the way down the food chain, including us. We have the infrastructure to support
that and people are paying a premium for it, as well as the homeowner. If you using Alarm.com or Total Connect, there is an extra fee for that type of service. It certainly makes a lot of sense when you start looking at it operationally, to be able to clear that alarm by talking to somebody who in all likelihood is at the site.

There is also a deterrence factor. Imagine you are the bad guy and you break into the home and the next thing that happens is a central station operator comes over the loudspeaker asking, ‘Is everything OK, can I get you name and password, please?’ There are also times when an operator will hear something terrible going on in the background – a fight, a fire, you never know what you are going to hear. That information is relevant as well.

SSI: Where is the monitoring industry currently in terms of providing services around health care and wellness?

Hertel: One of the things that tends to happen to most people is they don’t go to the doctor until they are on their death bed, so to speak. They wait until they are feeling really bad. It’s a hassle to go, you have to wait forever. You see people putting off health-care issues. The idea is if we can take somebody who is already at risk, whether they are elderly or have a chronic disease or perhaps they are coming out of major surgery or other procedure, if we can track that and look at what their normal vital signs are trending, then we can take a proactive step and rather than wait for them to become critical, do something about it ahead of time.

I stopped looking at ourselves as a central station a long time ago. Really, we are a critical events center. That could be anything from a medical event to some piece of freight that went missing.Morgan Hertel

There are systems today being deployed that are looking at things like normal daytime or nighttime activity. The systems are creating algorithms and doing those kinds of calculations and creating drafts and charts and looking for changes in that activity, whatever that is. When they start to see trends and changes they start to make proactive decisions about how to manage that kind of health care. At the same time you are also seeing what we would call critical events that are happening. Perhaps a diabetic’s sugar level goes incredibly low. It’s becoming a joint effort where you have clinicians and others who look at these trends and adjust health care based on these trends.

Also at the same time, organizations like us are getting plugged into that and saying, ‘Well, we have something if unattended could quickly turn into something really bad. Let’s get that person some help now.’ It could be anything from a button pushed because they are having some kind of real distress, such as heart attack or any number of things that are being monitored.

I stopped looking at ourselves as a central station a long time ago. Really, we are a critical events center. That could be anything from a medical event to some piece of freight that went missing. This [health and wellness monitoring] falls right into our world.

SSI: Will technology ever play a part in greatly reducing the vast majority of alarm signals that are triggered unintentionally?

Hertel: User education is important but humanity is humanity. Stuff happens. People leave dogs in the house. People forget to lock doors. I don’t know that will ever change. Security is not the first thing on everybody’s mind. What is dramatically changing is our ability to screen those kinds of events out. It’s not that alarms are necessarily tripping less, but what is dramatically decreasing are calls for service to police and fire departments. That is where our industry has done a great job. Rapid has spent an inordinate amount of time and money to continue to reduce those things by dealing with different ways to reach people.

The traditional model of [phoning people’s numbers off a contact list] is not working out. We are using other technologies and methodologies to let people know that the alarm has gone off and let them respond to us in a timely fashion in order to stop that dispatch or stop that call for service.

SSI: What excites you about tomorrow’s technological landscape?

Hertel: This idea of a central station really being a critical event center says a lot about where we are going. We are looking at a lot of different verticals that are close but [are outside the] security business. Medical monitoring is a whole other vertical that has a whole other set of competitors in it, and a whole other set of technologies and requirements. That is an area where we really fit into well.

We are starting to see interest in doing other kinds of energy and home automation; those areas where we can handle those types of critical events. We are seeing interest in building management and other kinds of building type of events that aren’t necessarily fire alarms or burglar alarms, but are other types of monitoring and other types of systems that are out there today. Network monitoring is becoming a big part of our business where we are looking at what’s going on with people’s computer networks and systems. We are focusing on other markets and always looking for what is the next platform for us to work on. Health care is a big part of that. I think you will see a lot of people enter into that home health-care environment over the next five years.

SSI: Are devices and sensors readily available now for the wellness market to take off?

Hertel: Europe is probably five years ahead of the U.S. In Europe what we are talking about today is commonplace. People slap a patch on and the patch connects to something via Bluetooth and all that normal information is fed back in a constant stream to a central location. You are starting to see that become more acceptable in the U.S. More people are asking for it.

The devices exist today. Everything from glucose monitors to bed sensors that allow you to see how many hours a day a person has been sleeping in bed or sitting on the couch or sitting in a chair. The devices are getting smaller, the batteries are lasting longer. They have better range. Now it is a matter of getting insurance companies or health-care organizations to look at that and say, ‘This makes good sense. We think we can improve patient care and save money by being proactive.’

About the Author

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Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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