SYSTEMSgroup opens centers

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Sunday, October 1, 2006

DALLAS--In an effort to offer around-the-clock monitoring for its commercial clients, for the first time SYSTEMSgroup will open two redundant security operations centers in Houston and Fort Worth, Texas, this fall.
A subsidiary of SAFEguard Security Holdings (see "SAFEguard continues growth," in the July issue of Security Systems News), SYSTEMSgroup has designed and developed control centers and operational procedures for organizations with unique security needs for more than 15 years.
"We have learned as you build control centers, you refine them," said R. Michael Lagow, president of SAFEguard Security Holdings "You release the features and functions that benefit your customers and so through that migration--of skill, effort and the expertise of implementation--we have learned a lot."
Typically, SYSTEMSgroup's clients, among which is the largest utility company in Texas, have in-house monitoring operations. Some of those signals will now be housed at SYSTEMSgroup's security operation centers.
"There will be certain times of the day when the utility company will take over their operations," Lagow said. "But during the dark hours that we deem to be lower traffic periods, where it doesn't pay for them to have a full staff at their control center, then those critical monitoring cameras, intercoms, and access control signals will be transferred to our monitoring center."
The Security Operations Centers will offer a number of VoIP applications for the company's clients. With the Dallas/Forth Worth area going to verified response, and Houston moving in that direction, said Lagow, he expects VoIP to be in demand.
The redundancy between the two centers will not be available until November, Lagow said. However, when they are up and running this fall, both will be "staffed and provide identical services in performance reports and operations. We will do switchovers on a regular basis, just so we know very quickly and easily that we can migrate signals in a catastrophic event," he said.
The designs of the facilities are progressive and forward thinking with a "less is more approach," he said. The walls are stainless steel and include panels installed for sound absorption as well as indirect lighting, plasma screen and projection screen monitors. The concepts for the facilities were influenced by museum-styled control centers, one sector in which the company works often.
Lagow compares SYSTEMSgroup to a privatized police department. "It's not a typical call-room environment," he said. "In a lot of call monitoring centers you have operators. The control center looks more like a traffic-control center."
He added that the company's focus is simple: "When we started designing the centers a year ago, we said, 'There is one thing that we want to keep our focus on: We can't be all things to everybody, but we can serve a certain type of client. We serve that client very well provided he is willing to upgrade his video from analog to video IP ... We are going to be an event -driven monitoring center that keeps your cost down, personnel under control, and allows you to be a cleaner operation."