Beyond Monitoring and Response
In the security industry, meeting a client’s security needs is only half the story. For a full-service central monitoring station like Safe Touch Security Systems, located in Jacksonville, Fla., servicing accounts requires more than effective monitoring and response.
“In a full-service central station, it is really key to have all the information in a single-point entry system,” says Victoria Ferro, president of Kissimmee, Fla.-based Micro Key Solutions. “Having that combination is really powerful for the business owner. It creates efficiency and ensures profitability,” Ferro says.
Micro Key’s Millennium Series software uses a common database and single-point entry system to integrate station monitoring functions with back-office support for billing, inventory tracking, job costing and more.
For companies like Safe Touch, that translates into cost savings, increased efficiency and better customer service. “If you train your people well, you can have a group of people that can answer 99 percent of the questions people have,” says Matt Allen, director of central station operations for Safe Touch.
The Millennium Series software consists of two primary modules: monitoring and management. The Monitoring Module is a Windows-based package, which has a built-in database and processes essential monitoring operations. The Guided Operator Response feature leads station operators through a step-by-step process to quickly evaluate incoming alarm calls according to preset parameters, such as account type, condition code, time, and date. Optional additional Monitoring Modules, including the Communications, Web-Based Dealer Access, Virtual Operator, and Service Tracking Modules, can be selected to tailor the software to a company’s specific needs.
Allen has found that by automatically sending status reports to clients via fax or text messages, the Communications Module saves his company both time and money compared to performing those tasks manually. He explains, “We have 80,000 accounts. With that many customers, it would be a full-time job. I’d have to hire somebody eight hours a day, five days a week. It’s a big time saver.”
The Millennium Series Monitoring Module alone provides central station monitoring functions, but the real advantage of the Micro Key product comes with the integration of the back-office programs provided in the Management Module.
“In our business, the biggest problem our customers have is the billing of recurring revenue given the mass level of accounts,” says Ferro. In addition to the sheer number of accounts to process, variable billing cycles add an extra level of complexity. The Accounts Receivable Module allows customers to efficiently manage large numbers of accounts and variable billing specifications with minimum effort. The ability to automatically draft credit cards and bank accounts, some 14,000 transactions per month for Safe Touch, has reduced labor costs and enabled the company to grow as the number of accounts it can manage has increased.
In addition to the automatic recurring billing solution, the Accounts Receivable Module, which forms the foundation of the Management Module, includes the capability to create a variety of reports based on sales, receipts, taxes and collections.
The Service Tracking, Job Costing & Inventory Tracking, Accounts Payable, General Ledger, and the Executive module add-ons can be used to customize the program to meet a company’s needs.
While the Millennium Series software is fully capable of meeting the demands of large monitoring stations, it can also be configured to serve the needs of alarm dealers and installers who contract out their monitoring services, PERS monitoring companies, and property monitoring facilities, such as municipalities and educational institutions. Though not part of the Safe Touch installation, tools like the Web-Based Dealer Module add-on and the remote technician access feature of the Service Tracking Module can help dealers and small companies streamline their operations.
With the virtual printer feature, Safe Touch does not need a stand-alone server to handle the huge volume of incoming alarm signals. The virtual printer enables Safe Touch to compile reports electronically, drastically reducing the amount of hard copies generated, which has proven to be a real cost saver. “The [cost of] paper and ink alone pays for the module in three to four months,” says Allen. He was also pleasantly surprised by an unexpected benefit. Previously, with Safe Touch’s four receivers operating, multiple printers ran constantly and generated a tremendous amount of noise. Having the virtual printer has drastically reduced the number of print jobs, resulting in a much quieter environment.
As versatile as the Millennium Series software is, occasionally a unique situation arises that demands a custom-tailored solution. Micro Key created a virtual phone application to integrate with Safe Touch’s new phone system and make the auto-dialers operate correctly. “In order for us to grow as a security company, we’ve needed Micro Key’s support. They’ve created custom applications we’ve asked for. I feel they go above and beyond to meet our needs,” says Allen.
He has been very satisfied with the Millennium software and working with Micro Key over the years. In addition to providing a software solution that meets all of Safe Touch’s needs, Micro Key’s response to custom requests and technical support has created a solid, ongoing partnership between the companies. Allen sums up the relationship, “They’ve never made me feel I need to look elsewhere.”
|PROJECTS in the News|
The city of Houston deployed Firetide’s high-performance wireless mesh network as part of a Homeland Security-funded initiative to improve public safety in the downtown area. The network is a communications foundation that connects IP video cameras, located at 134 traffic intersections, allowing first responders in Houston to centrally monitor activity in the downtown area from a command center. With the ability to view live video feeds, it enables faster dispatch of officers where and when they are needed. Video feeds are also stored and can be used as effective evidence in court. The Firetide network is comprised of more than 200 high-performance Firetide HotPort® nodes, with just four gateways that attach to the city’s fiber network, connecting 300 Axis Communications high-definition IP cameras.
Quantum Secure, a provider of enterprise software to manage and streamline security identities, compliance and events across disparate physical security systems, announced that Salt River Project (SRP) selected the SAFE for Energy Facilities software suite for its physical identity, access and compliance management, including audit, attestation, remediation and compliance for relevant NERC CIP regulations.
Phoenix-based SRP is the third-largest public power utility in the country and serves more than 940,000 electric customers. With the Quantum Secure SAFE for Energy Facilities solution, SRP aims to significantly streamline its physical identity and access management efforts and simplify its NERC compliance challenges.
“Our SAFE for Energy Facilities solution is a major step forward in the energy space,” said Ajay Jain, president and CEO of Quantum Secure. “We are enabling utility companies and nuclear sites to systematically and cost-effectively improve their compliance and risk management posture.”
MOBOTIX, a provider of high-resolution, network-based security solutions, announced that Calgary Catholic School District deployed a comprehensive MOBOTIX megapixel, IP-based surveillance solution as part of a system-wide upgrade from analog to digital video security. Calgary Catholic School District in Alberta, Canada, is home to more than 45,000 students in 102 schools across the province. The district’s high schools are each equipped with up to 20 MOBOTIX cameras. The MOBOTIX Q24 hemispheric camera is used to monitor internal areas while the MOBOTIX D12 and M12 cameras are used in outdoor applications.
“We obtained huge operational improvements at a significant cost savings with the networked surveillance solution from MOBOTIX,” said Al Berting, manager of operations, Calgary Catholic School District.