Central stations bet on IP-based video monitoring systems

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Tuesday, November 1, 2005

If access control monitoring takes hold as industry players hope it does, it could give a boost to the fledgling video monitoring operation that many central stations have undertaken in recent years.
Also helping spur growth in the video market is the continuing move to IP-based systems, both on the alarm and video side.
Steve Ipson, director of monitoring services at Diebold, refers to video monitoring as "a sleeping giant."
"It's going to boom any day now," noted Ipson, adding that it currently makes up 7 percent of Diebold's monitoring business with about 2,000 sites.
With prices coming down, more cameras going in and IP systems on the rise, Ipson said the market is ready to embrace video monitoring.
What has kept things slowed down, he said, has been the work involved in getting various DVRs to work with the monitoring software. Previously, he said, when the central station wanted to monitor video, they would need to use the software from the DVR manufacturer. With hundreds of different manufacturers' DVRs in use, the process could be both cumbersome and costly.
Now, said Ipson, through work with GE Security, they have been able to integrate DVR software into the monitoring software "so there is just one look and feel for the dispatcher."
"That allows us to do a better job," he said, "and we don't have to train people on lots of different DVRs."
He said anyone coming on board for video monitoring has to get on board with the integration process.
Carl Root, marketing services manager for GE Monitoring Automation Systems, said "software serves as the glue in the developing world of IP connectivity," with developments in the security industry promising "significant changes for both software developers and central station and monitoring centers."
Bold Technologies President Rod Coles also points to the vast number of video products as a reason for video monitoring's slow growth. But that is changing as the market moves away from writing interfaces to each of the software development kits from video suppliers and instead requires those companies to comply with the video integration specifications set down by the monitoring software company.
Root pointed to the expansion of false alarm legislation as another reason to "compel development of robust verification methods such as intelligent video combined with monitored access control."
Jerry Winslow, vice president-sales for Bold Technologies, agreed that what will drive video monitoring will be the actions of police departments requiring verification. "We've been dealing with video for 15 to 18 years," he said, "and every four or five years it seems to want to lift is head."
The concept of offering intrusion, video and access control monitoring as a package, he said, with a single interface, will also push video and access control forward.
Coles from Bold said once a company has access control monitoring, video can supplement it. For example, he said, video can be used to verify an access control action, such as remotely opening a safe.
"Once you bring it together, the sum is larger than the parts," he said.
Within Per Mar's central station, Mike Simpson, vice president and chief financial officer, said opportunities for monitoring are presenting themselves on several fronts, including car dealerships and convenience stores.
He said their current car dealership client has multiple sites and "an extensive camera solution" that requires monitoring each evening. "This is a high-end solution," he said, with motion detectors and sensors tied into it.
Like Winslow and Coles, Simpson said he envisions the coming together of video and access control monitoring as part of an enhanced call verification program.
While Doyle Security Systems hasn't embraced video as yet, Jim Boller, director of sales for the Rochester, N.Y.-based central, does see it taking off because of video verification services.
Still, he's more enthused about access control monitoring. Video, he said, "is a whole different level of training," while access control "is the same as if you were reacting to alarms."