CSAA Embracing Changing Monitoring Industry

Jay Hauhn, the executive director of CSAA, lays out the current state of the monitoring industry.

Without question, the monitoring business is changing. That change, however, reflects expansion and opportunity for business growth.

Traditional monitoring of fire and security remains strong. They are the backbone of our industry and will remain so.

Concurrently, nontraditional monitoring opportunities enabled by technological advances are creating new business opportunities. These were the impetus that drove our Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) to change its name to “The Monitoring Association.”

That should not be seen as deemphasizing the role traditional NRTL-listed “central stations” provide in the protection of life and property. NRTL-listed central stations remain the gold standard.

CO, Video Services, IoT Gain Traction

The past several years have seen a significant increase in residential carbon monoxide (CO) monitoring. This has been driven by legislation and public service campaigns aimed at reducing the impact of this silent killer. Legislation requiring CO detection in commercial buildings is also gaining traction.

A decade ago, the growth of streaming video for consumer applications generated many innovative ideas for applying video to monitoring services. They were a little before their time, with only niche providers gaining any real traction. Advancements in compression technology, cost-effective bandwidth and documented use cases are now enabling wider adoption of video services. This is true for alarm video verification, as well as for other video managed services.

The now well-worn Internet of Things (IoT) moniker has replaced video services as the most talked about growth opportunity. Information from the rapidly expanding list of connected devices is populating Big Data environments, enabling monitoring companies to expand the types of notifications provided to customers.

More: How to Get More RMR From Monitoring

GPS combined with cellular is enabling the monitoring of things in motion, such as high value shipments. This offers unique challenges in working with law enforcement since an item may move across jurisdictions rapidly. CSAA is discussing with law enforcement how such notification should be accomplished, and put within an ANSI standard.

Self-installed and self-monitored systems as well as “monitoring on-demand” continue to be hot topics. How these emerging models impact traditional business models remains to be seen.

Cloud-based monitoring solutions may somewhat disrupt traditional central stations. Given that they lower the cost of entry, growth in the number of NRTL-listed central stations is a possibility. Additionally, traditional centrals are evaluating the financial realities of moving to a cloud solution, thus reducing their operating costs.

More Five Diamonds & ASAP-to-PSAP

CSAA members have a clear stake in demonstrating the professionalism of the industry and in offering services that enhance public safety. CSAA Five Diamond certification and the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) service are two such areas. Last year, 165 companies achieved Five Diamond status, the highest number ever.

In 2015 we saw expanded deployment of ASAP-to-PSAP (Public Service Answering Point), the communications service between 911 centers and central stations. ASAP reduces call processing time from minutes to as little as 3 seconds, reports Aubry Insco, communications manager at Grand Prairie (Texas) Police Department, one of the most recent PSAPs to connect.

Preliminary results of our most recent demographics survey, now underway, show high percentages of members that monitor a wide array of systems. As expected, 97% monitor burglar alarms and 95% monitor fire alarms. What is interesting is that 81% now monitor card access events and offer hosted access services. Additionally, 81% monitor various video services to include the aforementioned verification, while we are showing growth in other services such as virtual guard tours and remote escort offerings.

Traditional burglar and fire alarms remain the heart and soul of the monitoring industry. But monitoring companies are not resting on their laurels. That card access and video monitoring innovations could become mainstream and show that the industry can embrace new ideas.

Those innovations are just beginning.

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