Taking Control of Remote Video

Sure, you’ve heard the remote video spiel for years; but guess what? Technological advances, a host of real-world solutions, lower barriers to entry and feasible pricing models make it worth your while to listen anew.

On the other side of the equation, some security dealers may view the financial commitment and other complexities as impediments for getting involved with offering remote video services.

Between new market entry by manufacturers, assorted monitoring platforms and varying user requirements, the industry strives to attain balance and standardization. Combining this with the large startup and ongoing costs associated with assembling a remote monitoring center and the need for competent, well trained (and paid) staff, the economic structure has not yet fully materialized to create meaningful traction.

However, it is on the brink of gaining a foothold and when it does the early adopters will be among those reaping the greatest rewards. Plus there is another tremendous benefit to remote video: creating a more cohesive relationship with law enforcement.

The delivery of precise information gathered through viewing and analyzing a premise before dispatching authorities is extremely valuable. Not only is this helpful in false alarm prevention but, during an actual emergency, this information could also be the differen
ce between life and death or in apprehending a criminal. As a result, authorities will be less skeptical and more proactive when responding to an alert.

Several Security Services to Sell

As touched on, remote video applications span security, business management and consumer applications. Some of them overlap with each other. Following is a summary of some of the more popular security-related services (subsequent sections hit on the business and consumer angles):

Video Guard Tour — This can be provided in a variety of structures. Some high security applications call for constant surveillance of premise cameras monitoring secured areas as well as business practices. Although some of these applications require the constant eyes-on, most others can meet their security and logistical goals through the use of video analytics and remote monitoring services.

Video Openings & Closings — This is a very useful service that logs a brief video clip of every user who arms and disarms the security system at a given location. The video can be stored for further audits or E-mailed immediately to management of the location. In addition to other advantages, this will confirm that the authorized employees are opening and closing the business.

Video Alarm Verification — This is a great assistance in identifying false as well as actual alarms, and eliminates unnecessary police dispatches. The use of video verification continues to grow with many municipalities adopting it as their preferred verification method.

Random Video Surveillance — This structure is both economical and useful, allowing for specific monitoring of a video system at different time periods during the day. Along with two-way audio communications during a tour, these systems are a great deterrent to theft and employees’ improper behavior.

Integration With Access Control — Utilizing remote video in conjunction with access control is a compelling combination and value proposition. These systems deliver a strong service while allowing the installing dealer the opportunity to enjoy significant and profitable recurring revenue. Services that are part of this include video audit of access and egress, remote access control management, remote verification of guests and remote concierge services.

Offsite Storage — Storing video on offsite servers provides a higher level of security than recording at the location. While would-be burglars can steal or damage an onsite recorder, they cannot destroy the images that have been sent to a remote site.

Remote Doorman — This is another growing value proposition in which remote video is used in conjunction with telephone access control for the use of controlling and verifying access to residential and commercial buildings. In a typical scenario a visitor would approach the location they wish to access and pick up the telephone or press a button to call the monitoring center staff. A security staff member would then answer and ask a series of questions or request their credentials.

An enhanced version would have the security monitoring staff member appear on a video screen when the telephone call is answered. The staff member would be wearing a full security uniform and hat. In higher security applications, the security personal may more directly interact with visitors who present a valid access card to the building’s access control system. This can be deployed during off-hours to assure the person presenting an access card is the actual authorized user.

Video Escort — This service affords clients added peace of mind for personnel working late or off-hours. With the use of a professionally installed series of video cameras, speakers and microphones, the user can initiate a video tour with the remote center by activating the tour button on the security system.

A security staff member will then greet them over the hands-free communications system. At this point the user can freely walk to their car parked in the parking garage/lot. The user can remain in full verbal communication with security personnel while knowing they are also monitored through the remote cameras. In the event of any tentative or dangerous situation, security can warn the user, dispatch authorities and stay with the user until assistance arrives.

Business Offerings Are Bountiful

Utilizing remote video monitoring and storage along with automated communications services allows business managers a greater level of auditing and management of their operations and staff. Thanks to properly installed video cameras, on- or offsite storage, video analytics and remote monitoring services, effective business management no longer means longer hours or around-the-clock security guards.

“We believe remotely monitored video has the potential for a major impact not only on our business but on how our subscribers conduct their business,” says Joel Cohen, president of New York’s Mutual Central Alarm Services. “It brings a number of management tools to the end user such as the ability to remotely monitor customer activity, reduce employee theft, check the condition of the location, and verify who actually opened or closed the system.”

Many single and multilocation businesses such as restaurants have become real advocates for remote video. When systems are structured properly, managers can watch over daily business operations from inside the location’s office, while at home, when working at a remote location or while in transit via their PDA or mobile telephone. This allows them to respond quickly to an event that requires additional attention.

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About the Author


Peter Giacalone is President of Giacalone Associates, an independent security consulting firm.

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