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Extrapolating video's evolution in security

Extrapolating video's evolution in security

Going through my email this morning, I noticed a little further discussion of video at Ken Kirschenbaum's newsletter. I've done a lot of writing about video. Specifically, I've written a lot about verification and companies like G4S, Westec, Stealth Monitoring and Viewpoint CRM who go beyond simple verification. A reader named John asked a simple question:

"Hi Ken,

Whom do you recommend for off site video storage and monitoring, including live look-ins?


To which Ken responded, "I invited central stations to respond to the inquiry. Here are the responses I received:"

I found the responses interesting and informative.

First was a reply from U.S.A. Central Station Alarm's Bart Didden. I've blogged about Bart's take on video verification and manufacturers and alarm companies that tout priority police response before. Here, though, Bart just talks about video in general:


First my position, then the answer to your question.

Video has gotten so much buzz for the last couple of years, that in my opinion many companies have been financially damaged trying to live up to the hype of video."

I've actually blogged about this before--the overselling, over-hyping of what video can do and the underplaying of it's limitations. We DO live in a world where Hollywood tells us we can recognize people and license plates from an orbitting satellite and make out the name of a perp's girlfriend in his tatoo from a conveniece store's CCTV footage... How much of that is true and how much science fiction? Regardless of the answer, Average Joe End User believes it can be done 'cuz he saw it on a mediocre (at best) episode of "CSI: Miami."

Bart continues:

"Dollar for dollar video has been the worse security investment ever to date because there are high expectations created by TV shows, manufacturers and the public at large because everyone expects HDTV quality and that the on-site recorders are always working. These expectations could not be farther from the truth especially when coupled with the inability to create recurring revenue streams for service."

I can't vouch for the veracity of that statement, since I don't know how much y'all have invested in failed attempts at video. It seems to me, however that there are companies out there offering video as a component of what they do, as well as making successful video services their entire business model. And I'm pretty sure RMR has been and will continue to be a part of that.

"Yesterday's alarm company would have been better served if they followed the advice of industry pundits who said flood the neighborhood with door hangers while you were installing a system for the neighbor, concentrate on your business, stay focused on what you do best and communicate with your customers by making them lead generators."

Bart seems to be saying don't try new stuff... The problem is that end users tell YOU, their employees (wlhen you install a system for them), what they want. Especially in today's world where end users are more and more tech-oriented.

Bart DOESgive some props to video, however.

"But I do believe that there is hope for video in the near future.

Here is my recipe for successful video sales into the traditional, service oriented alarm company.

Smaller camera systems generate sales leads not just for the camera but an alarm system as well and vice versa.

Health monitoring (system health, i.e. that its still alive) is essential! Otherwise your next call from your customer is going to be that the equipment failed when the customer needed it. This is just a no win situation because you failed to meet the customers expectations. This must also include the all of the system components, starting from the camera itself, all the way back including any recorder. Any loss of function has to leave the premise otherwise it is still useless.

Tie the video into a monitoring protocol for enhanced alarm verification. This way it seems like you need both to 'get it all.'"

Here, I like Bart's direction. Use video intelligently--as part of a larger system. Tie everything together. It seems like he's saying be educated, be smart, communicate with the end user and provide a real service. I think that's probably sound advice.And though he doesn't come right out and say it, it's there: Be honest. If there are limitations to what the system you're selling can do, tell your end user. Be honest about the limitations and honest about how video can supplement more traditional solutions. Sounds like a good policy. USA does offer video programs for dealers, and interested parties can contact them.

Now the input on video didn't end with Bart. Steve Tapper over at OzVision also chimed in. I'm actually working on a story about OzVision and Sonitrol teaming up for Sonovision right now. Look for that story later this week.

Here's what Steve had to say about video:

"Hi Ken,

If you are interested from a manufacturer perspective, I am happy to offer incite on what OzVision offers regarding off site Video Storage, as well as the many RMR services the central stations can provide to their clients such as:

- Continuous 24/7 recording on all cameras to be stored up to 1 year via the customized GUI for an OEM (and can be downloaded to your local PC)

- Video Motion Detection events stored and accessible via the customized GUI for an OEM (and can be downloaded to your local PC)

- Alarm Video Verification that the video will go to the off site server first, then instantly to the monitoring station, then onto the operator workstation which integrates with their particular automation software platform."

We here at SSN have done some writing about the ongoing evolution of video, including improved resolution quality, improved scalability through IP systems, dropping pricepoints, and improved analytics, all of which will continue to bring video into the mainstream.

What're your thoughts on video? I'd love to hear from you.


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