SecureWatch 24 integrates a video-based audit trail

Growing integrator leverages investigations, service contracts
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

NEW YORK--While legislators on the state and national level fall behind in creating laws governing the use of surveillance video, SecureWatch 24, a systems integrator (and more) based here, is already addressing end user concerns over who has access to what video, and when.

Started in the late 1990s as your typical commercial security integrator out of president and ex-NYPD officer Desmond Smyth’s garage, the company quickly developed its own surveillance software in 2000, a hybrid NVR that allows it to host more than 12,000 cameras on a single network, and monitor all of its clients’ video at its central command center here at the top of One Penn Plaza.

The early decision to build an audit trail into the software, which creates exception reports if camera operators go outside the scope of their jobs and allows end users to make sure their employees are using the system correctly, stemmed from SecureWatch’s opinion of most surveillance systems:

“Who’s watching it? Who even cares? What’s it doing? No one really knows,” said Gene Dellaglio, vice president, technology, at SecureWatch 24. “We said, ‘We’re going to know,’ and we built a dashboard around that.” The software also performs health checks on the system, monitors drive sizes, and provides statistical information to “make sure there’s accountability there.”

Further, the company makes sure everything is in working order and recording by requiring a service contract of its customers. “Everybody loves our maintenance contract,” Smith said, “because it gives them a fixed annual budget ... I don’t care how long the equipment has been out there, nothing goes out of warranty, nothing expires. That’s the deal we strike.”

SecureWatch 24 supplements its video surveillance service with investigators-even offering private narcotics investigation-and has specialized in residential apartment buildings, cleaning up city blocks and gaining new customers via word of mouth and results.

Currently, the company has 120 employees here in Manhattan, an R&D facility in Queens, and an office in Florida. Further, “We’re about to start up in Boston,” said Smyth, and even London, following a visit with London security teams where Smyth found the public surveillance very good, but the “private stuff is a disaster.”