Realizing Remote Video’s Revenue Possibilities

Remote services such as video guard tours and verification appeal to end users, and have the potential to be very lucrative for integrators. Find out what’s involved to succeed in this growing marketplace from technology, sales and marketing, and operational standpoints.

Remote video services consist of anything from offsite, remotely hosted video surveillance storage, to remote video monitoring and remote guarding. In general, these services are designed to save the end user money on their capital investment for a security surveillance system, offer valuable features that are unavailable to them with localized video solutions and leverage additional features to provide them with outsourced managed services.

Systems integrators are in a prime position to benefit from this lucrative new business opportunity. These services provide upsell opportunities for their customers and can generate the recurring monthly revenue (RMR) they need to: vastly increase their company valuation, have a predictable cash flow, level out the peaks and valleys, and improve their creditworthiness.

Integrators should dedicate a resource to implementing their managed services business. This is highly recommended because the sales process for these services is different from the traditional contractor sales model. The person who is in charge of selling the services should always sell the services as a solution — making the hardware, software and engineering involved merely the means to support the solution. Otherwise, the services appear to be optional, and thus become harder to sell.

Integrators should start with their existing customer base as those clients have already entrusted their integrator with their security management. Thus there is a relationship in place with which to work. The margins for these services are typically from 30 percent to 40 percent — lower than traditional intrusion alarm monitoring. However, the financial impact of the RMR remains lucrative because the dollar amounts per account are so much higher.

So let’s take a closer look at the specific types of remote video services — hosted video, video verification and remote video guarding — and the opportunities, operational considerations and costs associated with each one.

Keys to Hosted Video

Hosted video, a.k.a. offsite video storage, or remote video management, offers end users the following opportunities:

  • Replacement of the DVR — reducing the upfront investment required to obtain a working video system
  • Plug-and-play installation – reducing the installation time and labor costs
  • Hosted software — reducing the upfront investment as no server is required, and no software or licensing costs are incurred
  • Mobility — allowing end users to utilize mobile devices and any Web-enabled computer to access recorded and live video

Key system operational considerations for hosted video applications:

  • Bandwidth consumption — pushing video through the “cloud” requires a significant amount of bandwidth onsite. Generally, 0.5MB upload speed per camera is recommended.
  • Video quality — end users can choose from 1 frame per second (320 X 240 TV lines resolution) up to 10fps (640 X 480) or combinations in between. It’s important to make sure that the resolution and frame rate is adequate to meet the end user’s needs for the video.
  • Network connectivity — because Internet is necessary to push the video offsite, some end users will have a network-attached storage (NAS) device onsite and then use the hosted video as a redundant backup and for quick viewing.

Key cost considerations for hosted video applications:

  • Upfront — the upfront costs to the end user include acquiring the cameras, cabling, switch, network architecture and installation.
  • Recurring — the recurring monthly costs to the end user can range from $10/month per camera for live viewing only, to $25-$30/month per camera for the hosted service.

Keys to Video Verification

Video verification offers end users the following opportunities:

  • Alarm verification prior to dispatch — reducing the number of false alarms sent to authorities and end users
  • Quicker response from local authorities – increasing chances for apprehending suspects and minimizing losses and damage

Key system operational considerations for video verification applications:

  • Central station responsibilities — video verification is a service where central station operators act as human filters for alarms sent to the central station. The operators may receive a dozen alarms in one night from one site but until they witness a person trespassing or some other unwanted or illegal activity, the central station does not alert authorities.
  • Video quality — the video used to deliver video verification is usually low resolution, and not live. Meaning operators receive a pre- and post-alarm video clip (generally about 60 seconds in length) and make their decisions based on what they see in the clip. Video verification is somewhat limited due to the technology used at the monitored site and at the central station.
  • False alarms — although the central station is responsible for filtering out false alarms, they do still get transmitted to the monitoring center at a high rate. This can be costly to the central station, which will generally have a limit or an overage fee should false alarms get out of hand.
  • Threat detection — generally the devices used to trigger events for video verification applications are traditional intrusion panel-type events. This includes anything like video motion detection, door contacts, PIRs, etc. This service is not ideal for outdoor applications unless the area is somehow protected from environmental factors like snow, lighting and animals, as well as frequent human activity that may not be considered threatening.

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