Kastle embraces analytics for video monitoring

Commercial real-estate leader: 'you can't keep it on the shelf right now'
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WASHINGTON—Kastle Security, long a provider of managed-access solutions to the commercial real estate vertical, has recently embraced video monitoring facilitated by video analytics, as evidenced by a recently announced roll out with Vornado/Charles E. Smith, a $12 billion real estate investment trust that is the largest owner of office properties in both New York City and here in Washington.

The video monitoring solution, integrated with Kastle's proprietary central station software, which already manages alarm events and access control, was developed in partnership with Object Video, a process facilitated by new EVP Brian Eckert, a former OV VP.

"We've tailored and customized it," Eckert said of the analytics engine. "We've worked with them to customize it for the environment that we serve, which is commercial real estate. All of the video analytics, you want to contemplate them for the environment you're working within. Some functionality is basic, but there are specializations that give us some things, when combined with our own software, that you can't do with either one of them alone. There are new possibilities."

"One piece is tailgating," said George Ballman, president of the Mid-Atlantic region for Kastle, who is working on the video monitoring roll-out with Vornado's Washington properties. "Yes, it can be done with just the video analytics, but with a company like us you can integrate that with the access control data base, so that you count who's coming into the space and then match that up with the access control and how many card reads are coming into that building."

The technology is only one piece of the roll-out, said Eckert. "It's not integrated each time we go into the environment," he said. "It's pre-integrated, and it took us just as long to develop the business process as the integration. Central stations have been doing alarms for a long time, and video alarms is a new frontier. To develop that is an opportunity for us, and we invested a lot to get it right. There's a lot to contemplate within the design of the solution. It's technology and event-based, but there's a people element to it."

He said all four of the Kastle central stations are video monitoring capable, for example, but "we've focused on video monitoring with our DC operations ... It's not something that you go into lightly."

It's important, said Ballman, that everything be integrated into Kastle's service-based approach to selling. "Some people have had the experience of getting the access system and the keys are handed to them, and the installer walks away," he said. "But we've always offered a fully outsourced solution. We've done this same thing with video—we've come in and we've said that you don't have to get your own camera system. Even if you have an analog system in place, we can just get you encoders for that. And we continue to manage that system for them. We run it internally and have all the alarms come to us and we work out the kinks and the snags, and then we have the alarms that are important report to them."

Once the end user sees the possibilities, Ballman said, "Then it becomes, ‘What else can you leverage?" One client said, if you can count people, you can count cars, and now we're counting how many cars are coming into the lot and managing parking. Every time we show them a capability, they just start saying, ‘Can you do this? Can you do that?'"