Did you know that in many installations, analog speakers could outnumber network cameras by as much as 10 to one? That’s a multi-billion-dollar market ripe for conversion from analog to an  intelligent  network audio solution.

Adding network audio to your security portfolio could increase your average project revenue by as much as 30 to 40 percent. At the same time, replacing your customer’s antiquated analog system with an intelligent audio solution adds a proactive element to their camera system for deterring threats and enhancing business operations – such as customer service, site safety, and emergency notification.

You may say: I’m a security camera professional, what do I know about audio technology? The beauty of today’s network audio systems is that everything is contained in the speaker on the edge  – unlike the complex head-end equipment that makes analog speaker systems so expensive and difficult to maintain and scale. Network audio systems have free licensed audio management software built in and are pre-configured to work and sound great right out of the box. They don’t require extra hardware to install, nor do they need any audio expertise to operate.

In addition to on-board intelligence, every network audio speaker includes the amplifier, mixer, digital signal processor, microphone, power supply, and loudspeaker. You just connect the unit to the network through a PoE switch and a patch cord like you do with a network camera. Each speaker has built-in SIP support that makes it easy to integrate it with your customers’ VoIP telephone system. Because they’re built on open standards, they can seamlessly integrate with security cameras, access control systems, existing analog systems, and other network-based security devices you might incorporate into your customer’s security solution. 

With network audio, you can create a complete, end-to-end solution that differentiates your business from other security integrators your customers might consider. It’s a way to strengthen your partnership with your customers as the preferred vendor for all their security AND audio needs.

Become a trusted resource for network audio

Because your technicians and installers are already proficient in network video, offering network audio is a natural next step. It won’t take them long to become skilled in network audio installation and maintenance. So why not take advantage of the fact that they’re already on site? Most reputable manufacturers offer a variety of tools and technical support to rapidly elevate your team’s expertise. For instance, there are tools that can help you determine the optimum number and placement of speakers, set the correct volume for the environment, even created a detailed document and checklist for your installers to follow. So you’ll know your exact costs and potential profit for the project.

As you evaluate manufacturers, look for ones that include remote health monitoring in their network audio systems. This is a feature enables your technicians to send a tone to each speaker to detect any that aren’t operating properly. This will help them quickly identify and troubleshoot problems remotely, eliminating costly onsite service calls.

Sell your customer on the added value of network audio

Bear in mind that network audio isn’t just a tool for your customer’s security team. It can provide value across the organization depending on how it’s used. For instance, it can be employed to halt destructive behavior, automate routine communications, even enhance a customer’s shopping experience.  Which justifications will resonate most with your customer, will depend, of course, on the type of business they run. Here are some ideas worth exploring with your customers:

  • In retail – Coupling intelligent audio with surveillance cameras and video analytics could help a retailer be more proactive about customer service, stockturns, reducing shrink, and increasing sales. When the cameras detect lengthy lines at the registers, they could automatically trigger a page for more cashier assistance or direct customers to a newly opened checkout lane. When sensors detect near-empty shelves or racks, via a network relay to signal the speaker, the audio system could automatically page staff to restock merchandise, so the store doesn’t lose sales.

Intelligent audio could also deter pilfering. If a camera or shelf sensor detect a large quantity of product being removed all at once, it could trigger a message to employees that customer assistance is required in that specific area. Usually this stops would-be thieves in their tracks. Network audio can also be used to broadcast targeted messages or even seasonal music to different zones within the store to promote current specials, which can lead to increased sales.

  • In education – Augmenting a school’s security system with network audio can help administrators maintain a safe environment for learning. When you add audio analytics to the mix, it may even help save lives. For instance, if gunshot detection analytics senses weapon fire, it could automatically trigger a schoolwide lockdown. It could also, trigger the audio system to broadcast a pre-recorded message to shelter in place. Because the network speakers support two-way communication, authorities could monitor events in the classrooms and speak with faculty and students during a crisis, providing further insight and instruction.

Being able to control whether live or recorded messages are broadcast to every loudspeaker in the school, a specific cluster of speakers, or a single speaker, allows messages to be target down to the individual level. For instance, bell tones can play throughout the school at set times to announce changing classes. Or an administrator could direct a live message to a single hallway speaker, advising a loitering student to return to class.

  • In healthcare – Network audio can play an important role in curtailing workplace violence and improving patient care, especially when integrated with audio analytics that can detect the sound patterns of duress, anger, or fear. Whether in a busy emergency department, a locked ward, or a critical patient’s room, intelligent audio can be used to alert medical staff to health emergencies, communicate with individuals exhibiting aggressive behavior, and notify security to quickly intercede and de-escalate an incident before anyone gets hurt.

The audio system can be programmed to warn motorist attempting to park in an ambulance lane to move their vehicle elsewhere. Or it can be used in conjunction with video cameras and analytics to identify and admonish staff caught illegally exiting through fire doors or propping open doors in restricted areas like pharmacies and operating arenas, which could compromise everyone’s safety and security.

  • In critical infrastructure – While a picture is said to be worth a thousand words, sometimes the spoken word has more impact, especially in an area where warning signs are so prevalent that they become easy to ignore. That’s why adding network audio to security cameras makes such good sense at critical infrastructure sites. Augmenting “No Trespassing” signs with a triggered verbal warnings that the intruder is under surveillance tends to cause them to flee before they can steal material, damage property, or get injured.

Network audio can also help promote worker safety, reminding employees to don safety gear when entering hazardous areas of the property. When integrated with heat sensor, like thermal cameras, network audio can blare a siren or an emergency message to grab everyone’s attention to a dangerous situation, such as a chemical fire that would necessitate evacuation or an overheating transformer that needs to be taken offline to prevent a cascading catastrophic system failure.

  • In banking – Network audio is a great tool for drawing online banking customers into brick-and-mortar branches, where staff provide personalized customer service for their transactions. The branch can use the audio technology to pipe in music or financial news to build brand recognition, or pipe in timed marketing messages to generate interest in new products and services.

On the safety and security front, for instance, in an attempted robbery the security command center could broadcast a specific tone through the audio system that lets branch staff know that the police have been dispatched without alerting the perpetrator. If the surveillance cameras detect suspicious loitering in the ATM lobby or night deposit area, the integrated network audio system could broadcast a warning to the individual to vacate the premises. Or it can trigger an audio alert to security staff to investigate the situation.

Provide a hybrid solution for diehard analog users

If your customer wants the benefits of network audio but doesn’t have the budget  to rip-and-replace their existing analog speakers, you can propose technology to help them migrate to a more feature-rich network solution. Simple plug-and-play devices like network audio amplifiers and network audio bridges can enhance passive analog audio systems with network capabilities. Furthermore, these devices enable analog systems and network speakers to work in unison, fully leveraging music streaming, live and pre-recorded announcements, scheduling, system health monitoring and more without requiring your customer to swap out their legacy investment.

Opportunity is knocking, so open the door

You already have a great relationship with your customer base as a trusted security integrator. Why not expand that relationship to include network audio? It’s a great opportunity for your firm to increase its value proposition to your client, garner additional revenue and show your customer how a complete network solution can help them be more proactive with safety, security, and business operations.