Southwest moves, gains training capabilities

Sunday, January 1, 2006

RICHARDSON, Texas--Southwest Dispatch Center understands the importance of integrating new technology. The third-party monitoring facility completed a move and software upgrade last year to handle the facility's growth, and plans to offer advanced GPS services to its lineup.
"When you have people stacked on people, it wasn't nice," said Chip Bird, company president, who spoke about the lack of space at the central's previous location.
The relocation didn't take the company far, just a mile down the road, and the new building at 851 International Parkway uses the same telecom lines, which made for an easy transition during the move. The 11,500-square-foot space is three times the size of the previous location and includes a training room, which holds as many as 30 people. The company will use the area to train employees and dealers on new technologies and products.
"This is an easy way for us to help dealers train and sell services," said Brant Pierce, vice president of research and development at Southwest.
Bird said vendors the central works with are excited to have a location to teach dealers about new products. The central will also use the space as an educational forum to discuss video verification and Internet monitoring, Bird said.
The software upgrade began when the central changed their format to Bold Technologies Manitou automation last spring.
Prior to the upgrade, there was limited web access for dealers. Now its 285 dealers throughout the Sun Belt and 65,000 subscribers can view their own accounts. Currently, the firm has a 60/40 residential-to-commercial make up, and the company experiences steady growth, added Bird.
"[The software upgrade] puts the dealer in more control of accounts. As we step in the age of technology, you as a subscriber can receive that an alarm event has occurred and view what has happened," Bird said.
The added software will provide ease for the central station's operators, Pierce noted. "The software puts all video onto binary video for later retrieval allowing everything to run off one system," Pierce said.
Southwest in February will roll out a new GPS-tracking service provided by an unnamed cell phone provider, Pierce said. The personal assistance service will provide customers with navigation--to locate phones to contact family members--along with monitoring capabilities, he added.
Pierce sees "a huge push for integration" and sees GPS playing a major role in the future for how alarms are received.