Audio Monitoring Can Be a Sound Add-on

Discover how deploying audio monitoring can be an inviting business opportunity for security dealers.

First, adding audio to an existing security system is a simple yet effective way to differentiate one integrator from the next. Audio serves as an efficient tool to enhance existing security services without going through costly and time-extensive upgrades of new software, hardware and cabling. Second, audio monitoring devices are versatile. They not only easily integrate with video surveillance and access control systems, but they can also function as standalone security devices. Third, selling audio equipment can increase sales. Typically, distributing video technology provides thin margins whereas audio solutions can earn margins of up to 30 points.

One integrator that has experienced success in offering audio is Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Blue Violet Networks. The company has installed Louroe Electronics’ microphones for years. It uses audio as a security and loss prevention tool for enterprise-class customers, Fortune 500 companies, large municipalities, police stations and educational institutions.

Know and Comply With Local Audio Laws

A potentially significant barrier to employing audio technology is a lack of knowledge on the laws that govern audio monitoring.

In general, if there is no expectation of privacy (such as in a public space), audio monitoring is allowed. However, each state has a different policy on monitoring so integrators and end users need to make sure they know their state’s policy. States like California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Washington require all involved parties to give their consent for an audio re-cording. On the other hand, Colorado, Georgia, Ohio, Texas and Virginia only require one party to give their consent for the audio recording to be legal.

Whenever it is legal to monitor, it is always recommended to post clearly visible signage alerting people that the area is being monitored. For a state-by-state listing of requirements for using audio, visit louroe.com.

“As an integrator, offering audio complements your envelope of solutions,” says Ladd Nelson, director of security engineering and business development at Blue Violet Networks. “What end users desire is an integrator who can be a single provider of several types of security systems. Offering audio and other services takes you one step closer to that goal and makes you that much more appealing to the end user.”

For integrators interested in breaking into the audio space, Nelson recommends purchasing audio devices and thoroughly testing them so that when it’s time for installation, the technology is second nature to the team. Moreover, he affirms that proper installation is critical to the success of the microphone’s functionality. He says it is essential to have an experienced technician install the microphone or someone who is familiar with avoiding line barriers, configuring power, etc.

“One of the challenges of offering audio is getting the end user to understand what the applications are for audio and why it’s worth the investment,” Nelson says. When his team pitches audio to an end user, according to Nelson they do not sell it as solely a security system. They position audio as a proactive resource to improve managerial processes and a preventative tool to provide a record for employees to fall back on if a claim is made against them. Audio often acts as a protection or buffer for Nelson’s commercial enterprise users that experience a high volume of people coming in and out of their distribution centers.

Avoid Making Waves

Although audio benefits both integrators and end users, some refrain from installing or offering or it because of privacy or legality concerns. People can be wary of being watched
and listened to and can associate audio monitoring with ideas of “Big Brother” and an inability to freely express themselves.

Remember, the purpose of audio monitoring is not to infringe upon people’s privacy, but to protect them, increase their safety and advance security. Shoppers would feel better if they saw a microphone at the cash register and knew that it was there to ensure the employee provided great customer service. Likewise, control station officers would value the intercom that allowed them to speak to the suspect in real-time instead of having to wait for security to arrive.

In the end, audio-based security is about smartly combining leading technology with the right application, and exercising good judgment.

Richard Brent is CEO of Louroe Electronics (louroe.com).

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