Monitoring on My Mind

I wish those days could come back once more. Why did those days ever have to go? ‘Cause I love them so!’

These Stevie Wonder lyrics from his hit “I Wish” epitomize how some alarm industry veterans fondly reminisce about the “Golden Age of Monitoring.” They claim the industry has hit the wall and cite the fact that profits have leveled off since the booming growth of 1972-1997. I beg to differ.

While it may be true that traditional intrusion and fire alarm monitoring has matured, I believe that the greatest potential opportunities for central stations have yet to be realized. Part of the reason for this stagnation is, as David Avritt of SentryNet put it at the Security Industry Association (SIA) Forum, “We have spent all our time trying to hold onto our business, rather than grow or expand it.”

In any case, if you own or operate a central station, you could not be better positioned to capitalize on the technology revolution, particularly in the wake of Sept. 11 and the heightened interest in tracking people and objects. The key is staying abreast of the technology and the marketplace.

Security Sales & Integration is committed to exploring these emerging opportunities. Recent examples include “RFID Grows in Access Control Market With Vehicle ID Systems” (February 2001) and “Telematics: Offering Mobile Safety, Security Spurs Additional RMR” (December 2001).

At the SIA Forum, Patrick Devereaux of Emergency 24 outlined several other burgeoning markets for central stations, including:

The Internet (communication between dealers, marketing, monitoring, etc.)

Remote video verification

Remote access control

Global Positioning Systems (GPS)-based monitoring

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)-based, event-driven monitoring

These services—along with two-way voice and interactive, medical and elderly monitoring—are already being deployed by progressive central stations.

Louis Fiore of Detection Systems Inc., speaking at the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) Annual Meeting, suggested that central stations could increase recurring monthly revenue (RMR) by storing digital video for subscribers, and that motion and foreign object detection holds a lot of promise.

Speaking of video monitoring, as I reported in “The Outlook for Outdoor CCTV Is Outrageous” (see page 36 of the January 2002 issue), many believe this area will create significant RMR for some time to come. John Lombardi of Commercial Instruments & Alarms Inc. told me, “Providing remote guard touring, crisis intervention and alarm verification will only be some of the services central stations will offer.”

Moving farther away from the traditional alarm model, monitoring opportunities are surfacing in areas limited only by the human imagination.

At the California Alarm Association (CAA) Summer Conference, Michael Jones of ProFinance Associates predicted that “sensors are going to be placed everywhere. They are already being used on bridges, in the ocean to measure tides, on mountains to measure snowfall, almost any conceivable place.”

At ISC Las Vegas, Dave McCormack of Sensormatic spoke about smart dust—tiny sensors that can be dispersed over a given area and then communicate with each other to convey information to a monitoring entity.

A recent edition of the Los Angeles Times featured a story about humans having ID devices implanted under their skin. Each implant contains a microchip and an antenna. The purpose is to keep track of Alzheimer’s patients, but I believe we will see such technology become more widespread.

As you can see, the sky is the limit! I urge you to investigate these exciting new realms and discover what makes sense for your business. To quote another song, when it comes to monitoring services, These are the good old days.

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