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.

“We certainly are seeing clients using video in a wide range of applications to help more closely manage and protect their businesses — from securing employees, customers and inventory to viewing trends in traffic flow and keeping an eye on sensitive or remote areas,” says Tony Wilson, president of CMS of Longwood, Fla. “We also believe business owners and managers, who may be more strapped for time and under more pressure than ever given the economy, are enjoying the value and convenience of accessing and controlling their camera and security systems while on the road or away from the office on business or overnight.”

In addition to the openings and closings service previously mentioned, remote video as a business tool can serve the following functions:

  • Periodic auditing to assure employees are productive and carrying out safe and efficient practices
  • Assuring shelves are stocked and premises appear presentable to customers
  • Identifying potential safety issues
  • Liability mitigation by helping to determine if a slip and fall actually occurred, or the reasons for it happening
  • Monitoring and recording point-of-sale (POS) information
  • Monitoring stock room activities

There’s a Host of Consumer Uses

Although most remote video applications revolve around commercial and industrial installations, many pertain to consumer and residential use. While simple systems can be set up using Web cams and such, it does not address circumstances where reliable security is required.

Most consumer applications afford the valuable element of security along with the added benefit of consumer interaction and self-monitoring features. Because privacy is a great issue when it comes to residential remote video, the location of cameras and expectations of services must be taken very seriously.

In addition to alarm verification and remote doorman as previously discussed, consumer use of remote video includes:

  • Nanny cam when children are tended to by a babysitter or nanny
  • Latchkey children monitoring
  • Elder care monitoring to periodically loo
    k in on a loved one for assurances they are functioning and in compliance with necessary activities

Break Paradigm to Be Profitable

Hopefully by now the viability and value of remote video should be obvious to you. When the technologies and services are converged properly, orderly and efficiently the results are extremely effective. The economics that relate to remote video are sometimes mentioned as an obstacle. In some cases economics could be an issue, although onsite, manned security is usually a bigger issue.

A properly designed, budgeted and installed system utilizing automation and analytics along with remote security personnel will meet security and budgetary needs most of the time. An essential element to remember is meeting client expectations.

“People who buy video have higher expectations than traditional alarm system service,” says Hank Goldberg, vice president of Irvine, Calif.-based Secure Global Solutions. “Are you giving the customer what they bought?”

Security providers should concentrate on the economic models and get familiar with the cost justification models that would be presented to users in an effort to sell and justify these systems. In many cases, it becomes necessary and really helps the justification when the installation is leased and the monthly fees are all combined so users can include them in their annual security budget without depleting their capital budget.

Security providers, on the other hand, have a tremendous amount to gain as the margins are healthy on both the installation and services side. The toughest barrier of entry seems to be breaking the paradigm of how security has been viewed in the past.

Peter Giacalone, a security professional for 30 years, is President of Mace Security Int’l Inc.‘s Security Services Division. He can be contacted at (201) 394-5536 or [email protected].

Economics of Remote Video

The capital investment for a video system can vary to a great degree based upon the location’s size and requirements. The cost of remote services will also vary depending on the detail required, number of cameras and quantity of tours per day.

Some providers charge by the minute, others by the tour. Wholesale fees from third-party providers range from $1 to $1.50 per minute. These wholesale fees usually translate into retail fees of $2 per minute, allowing dealers to enjoy healthy margins.

For example, a typical location that required six two-minute tours a day, seven days a week would provide a dealer with gross RMR of $720 against an expense of $540. This does not include revenue from the installation and maintenance contract, which equates to even greater profits.

Other remote services such as video verification usually stay relatively uniform and are combined with the cost of traditional intrusion monitoring. Wholesale monitoring centers usually add $5 to $10 per month to the current monitoring fee when video verification is included. Remote video alarm capture that stores video clips generated from alarm activations can cost a dealer $25 per month for a fixed amount of storage plus additional fees when that storage capacity is exceeded.

It’s important to consider the entire end-user and dealer value proposition when evaluating remote video services. The economic make-up for a well designed system includes revenue from hardware and installation, monitoring, tours/verification and, system service and maintenance contracts. It is extremely important for video systems to include maintenance contracts as they must operate up to par for delivery of quality services.

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About the Author


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

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