Big and bright

HSM's new center emphasizes light and movement
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.--A visitor to HSM's newly built monitoring center here will immediately be struck by the color and light in the building. The new facility, done in shades of tan and maroon by BDH & Young Space Design, took just 18 months to bring up to speed and cost $5 million. Housed in a 32,000-square-foot facility, it increased HSM's monitoring capacity by a third. "The building was originally built for another technology company," said Steve Walker, director of HSM's ProtectionNet Customer Service Center. "It would have cost $10 million if we had to do it all ourselves."
"Planning this space at the end of '05, we moved up the timeline and opened our doors in December of last year," said Walker, who started with Honeywell 22 years ago and has been with the company through its spin-off in 2004 and during the recent Stanley acquisition.
The monitoring center, which is located on the third floor of the building, features plenty of windows and space for its 130 operators who, together with the staff in a Santa Ana central, monitor 170,000 accounts in North America. Large flat screen TVs on the walls show the current weather, CNN news, the types of calls that have come into the center and how fast the response has been. Walker emphasized that HSM takes its alarm response turnaround very seriously--a record of the day's response times is sent to president and chief operating officer Tim Whall on a daily basis. For the staff, "We wanted to make this an environment where employees would feel comfortable," said Walker. So far, it seems to have served HSM well--the average tenure of an employee at the company is more than 10 years, and five years in the monitoring center.
Video monitoring is done on the premises of both centers, with the ability to "look in" on a client's premises in real time. "The video alarm monitoring function was launched at ASIS in 2005," said Walker, with enhancements scheduled to broaden the offering soon. HSM is the second largest monitoring company after ADT, with a 60/40 commercial/residential split, "but the balance is shifting toward commercial," said Tony Byerly, senior vice president of sales, marketing and national accounts. Current clients include Sports Authority, the Cheesecake Factory, and Applied Biosystems.
According to Byerly, HSM has been "an industry trendsetter" by creating its National Account Performance Scorecard, introduced last year. "People are now asking for it by name," Byerly said. "Our whole philosophy of competition--we're an open book. The scorecard underscores that." The scorecard is a tailor-made booklet HSM gives to its clients that shows HSM's annual performance for each national account.
Another recent innovation at HSM has been its "eServices" offering, which includes online video and alarm data, remote video services, online-alarm data and online account management. Doug Walsh, HSM eServices Specialist, explained that the system allows the customer to "put the security information you need right at your fingertips, no matter where you are, at any time day or night." The eAccountManager is a tool that offers clients updated information on the status of installations, service repairs and invoices.
"You can even see the invoice that the technician has filled out online, complete with his signature," said Walsh.