Intervention specialist, Tim Wagenseller, conducts real-time, remote video surveillance for Iveda Solutions’ customers.

As interest in remote video monitoring grows, so do the number of third-party wholesale monitoring services specializing in video monitoring. Integrators turn to these services to provide the third-party remote video monitoring services they have sold to their own clients, including universities, hospitals, offices, stores and other entities.

Here SDM examines the demand for these services, and how integrators should go about marketing and selling the services. Additionally, we look at the features of remote video monitoring services that are most appealing to integrators’ clients and how integrators should price those services. Finally, we focus on whether remote video monitoring is a profitable business for integrators.

According to Norm Charney, president of Dallas-based video monitoring firm Stealth Monitoring Inc., monitoring demand began with burglar alarm monitoring, which then gave way to CCTV monitoring. “Then people said, ‘That’s not very good, because when someone breaks in, all we get is a grainy analog image of the break-in, and no one can ever be arrested,’” he says. “The bad guys are often wearing a cap or hood, and there’s no way to arrest or prosecute them because they can’t be identified.”

As a result, Stealth Monitoring forged the concept of actually watching the video image in real time, and notifying police as the burglary was in progress, Charney says. Stealth Monitoring employees are able to describe to the police what they are seeing, and possibly even send the police a live video of the break-in. That makes the event a high-priority police call, one in which perpetrators are still on the property, he says.

Demand for the Service

The demand for remote video monitoring is definitely growing, but difficult to quantify, says David Ly, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Iveda Solutions, a Mesa, Ariz. company that monitors customer cameras in real time to proactively assess events as they unfold, then intervenes if necessary by calling security personnel, police or the owner, depending on customer protocol. As video verification of alarms by first responders becomes a mandate, and the technology to manage and deliver video over IP matures, the service has enormous market value and growth potential, for both security and many other remote viewing applications, Ly says. “The challenge is educating the public that there is such a service and that there are stark differences,” he adds.

Appearing to agree with this assessment is Aria Kozak, CEO of Elite Interactive Solutions, an interactive video-monitoring provider in Los Angeles. “Level of demand is growing at a rapid pace,” Kozak says, noting that as end users better understand the limitations of classic alarm monitoring and the subsequent problems with false alarm response, they are seeking new solutions for these problems. “It becomes a no-brainer to add video monitoring to their portfolios of protection,” Kozak says.
Certain companies make better candidates than others for remote video monitoring.  Among them are those with outdoor assets and outdoor inventory, such as car dealers, construction companies, apartment complexes, roofing contractors, lumber yards and metal distributors, Charney says. Also targeted by Stealth Monitoring is the client spending considerable money on security guards. The cost for guards can be $15 an hour; Charney’s service can be as low as 50 cents an hour, he says.
At Acadian Monitoring Services, a Lafayette, La.-based company, director of operations Kenny Savoie reports his firm has found the best potential clients are those that have witnessed some sort of security breach, hold-up or theft. “They develop a ‘sixth sense’ about themselves, so to speak,” Savoie says. “Having a gun pointed in one’s face changes the mindset about moving forward. Another great vertical are those who are currently paying for expensive guard services. They realize they can now reduce this expense drastically, while maintaining same or greater levels of protection.”
Remote video monitoring firms encourage integrators to target existing video surveillance systems clients, then up-sell them to the remote monitoring capabilities.
This is an ideal means of gaining new revenues from “stagnant customers,” Ly says, adding, “It used to be a one-time sale of security equipment, until the customer needed an upgrade or replacement. Now, integrators have the opportunity to earn monthly recurring revenue for our real-time video surveillance services.”
Savoie reports once a dealer or integrator understands the technology, market principles and potential, they should “re-prospect” their existing customers.  In such cases, open architecture systems ensure existing installations can be accommodated without the need for costly upgrades or retrofits, he adds.
In Kozak’s view, integrators need to be educated by experienced firms like his own to better understand that remote video monitoring is now an exact fit for their businesses. “Once they understand the economics and the concepts, and look at the sophisticated sales effort that goes into developing a proper solution, they will definitely look at their existing customer bases, to revisit how video monitoring can improve an end-user’s bottom line,” he says.

Features & Benefits

Integrators appreciate a number of features and benefits associated with remote video monitoring, according to Ly. First, live surveillance offers important advantages when compared with event-based monitoring. The most important is the ability to watch events as they unfold in order to prevent crimes or catch perpetrators in the act.  Others include no false positives, the ability to collaborate with first responders on the scene and costs savings when compared with security guard services.

Iveda Solutions’ daily surveillance report (DSR), consisting of detailed descriptions and time-stamped snapshots of events and activities defined by clients, is another important benefit, Ly adds. “Over time, such data become useful statistics not only to our customers, but also for us to continually learn more about strategies and techniques to improve our service,” he says. In addition, the service by default provides 24/7 simple browser-based remote camera access and archived video playback, providing redundancy to local storage and letting customers see what Iveda sees.
Acadian Monitoring Services offers video and access control automation in a stand-alone platform under the “America on Watch” brand, Savoie explains. America on Watch is a 24/7 video and access control monitoring station where operators monitor event-driven, real-time video activations triggered by PIR camera motion, analytics, biometrics, access control door events, panic button activations, two-way voice intercoms or scheduled guard tours, he describes. Interactive video monitoring allows end users to employ pre-emptive security protection, rather than acting passively through a forensic DVR playback of an event that often occurred days before.
Meanwhile, customers of Stealth Monitoring welcome the ability to tell the service about specific individuals or acts to watch for. For instance, one client recently informed Stealth Monitoring that it had laid off an employee, and wanted the service to watch if this specific employee returned to the workplace with a loaded handgun, Charney relates.
“Those are the kinds of things we can do,” he adds. “We can also use this to determine employee productivity, checking for inventory shrinkage and whether employees are using their time to the fullest advantage to the employer.”
As well, employees in Stealth Monitoring’s remote center can speak with visitors to customer sites, verifying their identity and permitting or denying them access.
“We can open and close gates, turn lights on and off and activate speakers to advise people – such as skateboarders loitering at a facility – to leave a property,” he says. “Press a button and we can activate a recording or live statement saying, ‘You are being monitored by live video. Please leave immediately or we will dispatch police.’”
At Elite Interactive Solutions’ Network Operations and Communications Center (NOCC), agents respond to events detected by the company’s systems, gather data, take prescribed action, coordinate with authorities if necessary, and dwell on those events until they reach their conclusions, Kozak says. In addition, the company will act on end users’ specific wishes to “look in,” tour or watch specific areas, personnel or processes, manage access or manage perimeters, he adds.

How Integrators Profit

Iveda Solutions’ Ly says monthly charges represent a common means of pricing. But depending on type of service and how it works within integrators’ business models, pricing can be handled in various ways. “We have a flexible model and encourage our partners to bundle the services with theirs, or package with hardware,” Ly says.

Acadian’s Savoie says pricing is often “all across the board.” His own company offers specific solutions to an array of problems and offers ala carte pricing. “Dealers and integrators are still having difficulty on what margins the market can bear,” he reveals.
“West Coast dealers are telling me I am underpriced, while Southeast dealers tell me I am overpriced. I believe a fair dealer mark-up should be 30 percent. Typically, we bill dealers monthly on a per-camera fee, plus any optional services that co-exist.”
According to Savoie, Acadian offers a “lucrative new recurring monthly revenue stream” back to its dealer network. He says many dealers and integrators in the CCTV business walked away from the RMR component, because no universal central station solution existed to handle remote video monitoring. Instead, their profits were earned from the installation and any service contracts garnished. Today, however, Acadian’s new open architecture video and access control platforms make it possible to offer “these services that a few years ago didn’t exist in the central station arena,” he says.
Kozak’s perspective is that there is no “typical” form of pricing for remote video monitoring services. Much like a sophisticated system integration, how pricing is done depends on what the end user wants or needs to accomplish, the amount of consulting that has to go into each end-user solution, and the type of video monitoring that will achieve the end user’s objectives, he argues.  
Officials of third-party remote video monitoring services tend to be unanimous in asserting that for remote video monitoring to be profitable for integrators, those integrators must team with knowledgeable partners to offer the service.
Says Kozak: “You can‘t just slap off-the-shelf systems and software together, and call it a NOCC or video monitoring center, and expect to make money. You must have knowledge and skill at managing the dwell time inherent in any interactive monitoring business, and introduce that knowledge and skill into the center’s operations.  The profit comes from consulting, design, installation, systems services and monitoring RMR, so there is recurring revenue.”

The Perspective of an Integrator

The most appealing aspect of remote video monitoring for clients of integrator Accel Protection and Technologies LLC, Breaux Bridge, La., is cost savings, says Chuck Landry, chief operating officer. And in today’s economic climate, nearly every business is in cost-cutting mode. “The cost savings associated with remote video monitoring allow business owners who truly desire physical security services to reduce the physical security force, while maintaining a ‘virtual’ security presence,” Landry relates. Accel Protection partners with Acadian Monitoring Services in offering remote video monitoring.

“For clients utilizing both physical security services and remote video monitoring (RVM), the most appealing aspect of RVM is that it serves as a force multiplier. Communication between the security officer on-site and the monitoring center’s video analyst basically gives the security officer a set of eyes on the entire facility.”
Turning to the issue of profitability, Landry says remote video monitoring has proven to be a very profitable business for Accel. RVM presents a learning curve even for very experienced integrators, because each and every account is unique in its own way. Each account presents its own challenges that can drastically impact the profits an integrator can earn.
“Working closely with an experienced monitoring center, like Acadian, is the primary key to success,” Landry says.
Profits are realized only after the challenges are surmounted, and the system’s effectiveness can be convincingly demonstrated to clients, Landry says. Remote video monitoring has become profitable for Accel in more than one way, he believes. For instance, it opened the door for Accel at a large automobile dealership, which in turn led to additional work outside of CCTV and remote video monitoring.
Expenses associated with remote video monitoring are minimal if each and every account is approached with a plan. “It’s not as simple as installing a panel, motions and contacts and plugging in a number,” Landry says.