The ability to view video footage remotely of their home or business has strong appeal for end users, but not everyone wants to manage or invest in a digital video recorder (DVR).
That reality, coupled with increased availability of broadband connectivity, has opened up a new recurring revenue opportunity for security dealersâ€”remote video and managed services. This article will explore three different services of this type that are available to security dealers on a wholesale basis for resale to their customers.
IP CAMERA-BASED OFFERINGbyRemote Inc., Fargo, N.D., does not require a dedicated device on the customer’s premises. Instead the company’s offering, which it calls “off-site hosted storage,” requires the use of IP cameras and a router.
The service currently works with IP cameras from Axis Communications, Chelmsford, Mass., and will work with other IP cameras in the future. The service does not use a DVR, but the customer can use a Windows XP Pro-based network video recorder if desired.
byRemote hosts a server and storage to which authorized end users can connect via a Web browser. Currently the company records 24/7, but plans to add the ability to record in response to motion detection. Custom programming also is available.
As Bethany Johs, byRemote’s chief operations officer and director of development, explains, end users of the off-site hosted storage service “can call up the video remotely and administer the account.” For example, she says, a day care owner could set up parents to view real-time footage but not to view recorded video. “Some people set up a temporary user for the police if they have an incident,” she adds.
byRemote’s offering does not interface with central station automation software. But Johs notes that some of the IP cameras that the system supports have the ability to internally sense motion and send e-mail alerts to end users.
The suggested retail fee for byRemote’s off-site hosted storage service is $29.90 per month per camera for three days of video, which is stored on a rolling basis. Alarm dealers make a margin of about 30 percent at that price.
CENTRAL STATION CENTERPIECEOzVision, Woburn, Mass., emphasizes the role of the central station in its video surveillance service offering.
“The concept is that the end user is buying from the monitoring station a variety of video services, such as DVR services,” explains Avi Lupo, president of OzVision’s security division. The company has integrated its offering into major central station automation software systems, Lupo adds.
OzVision operates its own servers for the storage of end user video and also works with central stations that want to host their own servers. To support its offering, OzVision sells a device that is installed at the customer premises and which can be used instead of or in addition to a DVR.
“The devices stream video data in real time to the server,” Lupo explains. “According to the customer profile, the system automatically routes the video to the monitoring station or to the customer.”
For example, a retail business might want a profile set up so that during business hours, video is streamed continuously, but after hours, if someone goes into the stock room, an e-mail notification is sent to the manager, and an alarm with accompanying video is sent to the central station.
“There is a buffer in our device,” explains Lupo. “If an alarm is triggered, the video clip will be pushed in front of the central station operator, who gets the alarm and video together.” The video clip sent includes the alarm scene just prior to the trigger event.
OzVision charges dealers in the range of $8 to $30 a month, depending on the specific services purchased. Dealers typically mark that up by 50 to 100 percent, Lupo says.
He adds that there is a strong market for the service among dealers’ existing video surveillance customers. “Using their existing investment, they can get attractive add-on services,” he notes.
REMOTE VIDEO TO THE CUSTOMEREquipment manufacturer Napco, Amityville, N.Y., calls its video surveillance service iSeeVideo. As Napco vice president of marketing Judy Jones explains, “iSeeVideo takes live video from CCTV and puts it on the Internet for the customer to look at.”
People can do this even when they are away from home. “You look at it through any personal computer or Web-enabled cell phone or Blackberry,” Jones says.
Citing a specific example, she adds, “When the system is disarmed by a child returning home, the customers not only get peace of mind, they also can get an e-mail message on their phone and they can also get a clip on their PC of the child entering the home.”
To use iSeeVideo, a Napco-manufactured gateway device must be installed on the customer’s premises. Installers can connect up to four analog cameras to the gateway, which in turn is connected to the user’s broadband modem. A personal computer is not required at the customer’s premises.
“When people look in, they will see a simple interface,” explains Jones. “They see a quad screen and can click on any one of the four cameras and see a full screen image from that camera.”
Napco also stores video for customers on its own servers. Security dealers set up recording parameters to suit each customer’s needs. In a typical scenario, the system would begin recording in response to events triggered by the motion detection capability built into the system.
As Jones explains, that capability is pixel-based. “In the set-up mode, there is a grid in the field of view of the camera,” she says. Installers click on pieces of the grid to tell the system where to pick up activity.
Using that approach, installers “can leave a path to the garage or front door, and when the system is activated, the video is automatically captured,” she says.
Currently, Napco is offering two years of free service, including 25 MB of storage, to security dealers purchasing its gateway. Those who want more storage can upgrade for a fee.
Dealers typically charge in the range of $17 a month for the basic service. That means that, even when the introductory special is over and dealer cost for the basic service is $2.50 a month, dealers still should be able to make a handsome profit on the offering.
The Napco offering also is integrated with some central station automation software. In an alarm, the video would be captured and sent to the central station, which could verify the presence of an intruder.
Napco also offers dealers a means of uploading their own logo to the iSeeVideo Web interface. “When the customer goes to the screen, it looks like it was designed by the alarm company,” notes Jones.
THE FUTUREAlthough managed services represent only a small part of the video surveillance market today, some believe the industry will move more toward that direction in the future.
Just as more people have moved from answering machines to voice mail services from a communications service provider, proponents foresee a similar shift from DVRs to video surveillance services.
Lupo is particularly enthusiastic about the possibilities for video surveillance services. “Eventually the industry will move to smart video servers,” he says.
Lupo notes that end users increasingly may find the amount of data they can get from their video surveillance systems overwhelming. Such people will welcome the opportunity to outsource video surveillance to someone who can filter it effectively, he predicts.