Using the ‘Net to Catch More Alarm Customers

The advent and increased acceptance of IP technology in the security realm by a more technology-savvy consumer is shaking up the traditional electronic security market. But change is good, and the new means by which systems are monitored and how alarms are handled at the central station level, as well as at the customer’s location, are opening up new opportunities, efficiencies and capabilities for both monitoring centers and independent security dealers.

Central stations are adapting to new technologies and are changing along with the newest developments by offering customers enhanced notification of alarms and alerts to cell phones, laptops and other communication devices. However, the security industry is slower to adapt to these changes, finding a challenge in standardization and recouping investments. In order to forge a new future for the security industry, alarm dealers and IT professionals will have to come together to find a solution.

Automated Internet-Enabled Monitoring Emerges
IP in the security space was at its infancy a couple of years ago. As new applications came to market and activity escalated dramatically, people became increasingly acclimated to the technological advancements shaping the industry. 

Automated Internet-enabled monitoring platforms are one example of the latest technology to emerge out of this security market trend. The newest platforms offer a flexible, constant, highly interactive and customized communication between the central station and the IP-enabled alarm panel, making such capabilities as live video streaming and access to other valuable customer data possible. 

One example of the newest platforms is the AES-IntelliNet MultiNet, a technology that combines a 2-way radio alarm mesh communications network and the Internet to create a central station-owned and operated network with multiple, redundant signal paths. Within 3 to 5 seconds, alarm data is sent and responded to, making it faster and more reliable than phone lines. 

Without the constraint of a dialer, more information is shared in real-time with the monitoring platform, analyzed for trends and then is able to supply crucial and timely information to the customer.

“In the last year or so there’s been more growth in IP than the previous five years altogether. In the next five years we should see even more of a dramatic upturn as it gains even greater acceptance and certain technological issues are ironed out,” says Morgan Hertel, vice president of operations at The Command Center Inc. of Corona, Calif. 

As Hertel explains, the conservative security industry itself got comfortable with its time-tested solutions and was loathe learning or accepting all the intricacies of the new uncharted territory of IP technology. Growth and acceptance of IP was initially slow until it bumped heads with the needs of a new generation that craved constant connectivity; in turn, the industry was forced to change.

“There was a certain unfamiliarity with the technology by the dealers and a steep learning curve for them to get a handle on it. There was also the pervasive feeling, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Hertel says. “But the time comes to adapt — and fast — because members of GenX don’t have a home phone; they have a cell phone, and the latest services need to come quicker and cheaper with more features right in the palm of their hand.”

The boon for consumers is that through these monitoring platforms and through their mobile devices, subscribers have the ability to receive notifications of alarms, alerts or other events sent via E-mail or text message to their mobile phone, whether the data is archived or occurring live. Consumers also gained the option of managing their security accounts through a Web portal online, giving them yet another opportunity to take control of their security system.

VOXCOM Security Systems of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is one of the early adopters of these new monitoring platforms, rolling out a variety of new monitoring services to customers. As the first North American security company to deploy the SecureNet monitoring platform from Infinity Systems, VOXCOM aims to increase customer interaction with their security system and build a new customer base by offering a variety of home monitoring services. 

Another company to put forth this type of solution is iControl of Palo Alto, Calif., with its Home Security 2.0 offering. Reza Raji, CEO of iControl, says this offering takes the best of traditional security and marries it to Internet broadband capabilities. The company offers a platform with turnkey service tailored for remote control and constant connectivity.

Security Solutions Dovetail With Technology and Modern Culture
Raji agrees with Hertel that modern-day innovations had to come forth because, in reality, not much had changed in the traditional security market the past 25 to 40 years. It was time for security solutions to dovetail with technology and modern culture.

With an estimated 26 million subscribers for security services nationwide and broadband technology being piped into 80 percent of consumers’ homes, there was an astronomically large market to tap into. Raji dubbed the potential level of services offered to consumers as the “quintuple play,” whereby people could avail themselves into using broadband technology for telephone, cable and hi-speed Internet, in addition to using cell phones and security services via IP.

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