There is a lot of investment happening in the central station business, as companies are preparing to capitalize on growth opportunities in video services, interactive security services, and PERS.

Wholesale monitoring companies have made significant investments over the past couple of years in new facilities and/or technological infrastructure — installing new automation platforms, facilitating software integrations, and upgrading hardware. Most recently, Affiliated Monitoring spent $24 million on a new 80,000-square-foot central station in Union, N.J. (see front cover and page 49). There are other examples.

SDM set out to learn why central stations are readying for expansion, even though industry growth in the channel has been flat for three years. We found a two-part answer. First, security professionals predict that certain products/services, such as PERS, video monitoring and storage, and interactive controls will surge in demand and experience sustained growth. Most of these services move through a central station. Second, because there are so many product and service options now in the marketplace from any number of vendors, central stations need to be able to accept all types of signals/streams in all available formats to remain competitive.

For example, in this month’s cover story, “Why Central Stations Are Upping the Ante,” writer Maggie M. Shein explains that Affiliated Monitoring’s investment in its multi-million dollar facility was intended to ready the company for growth at a time when wholesale monitoring companies are seeing a lot of change in the marketplace, right down to the way basic alarm signals are transmitted.

“It’s an absolute revolutionary change that has taken place,” emphasizes Affiliated Monitoring’s Stanley Oppenheim in the article. “We have to be ready to do what our customers want us to do. There are so many options and we have to be ready to serve our dealers with whatever they choose to use as the industry continues to expand.”

I have no doubt that Oppenheim — who has spent 48 years in the security industry — knows “revolutionary” when he sees it. The shift from relatively simple, signal-based communication over telephone landlines to alarm signaling via cellular networks, IP networks, and long-range radio is extensive and growing. On top of that, rising demand for monitored video including residential applications, cloud-based video and access control, and managed services are changing the foundation of monitoring entirely.

Wholesale monitoring companies are testaments to the growth happening in certain areas of the marketplace, with many of them investing millions into new staff, infrastructure and facilities. To keep up with the demand from dealers and end users, monitoring centers are upgrading and expanding their services portfolio in key areas where they expect to see continued growth, Shein describes in the article.

The new facilities have greater operator capacity, but none of the monitoring companies contacted for this article would divulge if their net number of employees was up or down compared with last year. United Central Control’s Mark Matlock said, however, that compared with five years ago, the number of people employed at UCC had grown by nearly 40 percent. UCC was recognized recently as honoree Central Station of the Year in the Central Station Alarm Association’s Excellence Awards, a story that is also covered in this issue beginning on page 55.

If you are a security dealer or integrator who uses a wholesale central station, you should take the time to learn about any new services or capabilities your monitoring partner may now offer that it did not offer before. This fundamental change in monitoring is affecting almost every single area of the security industry, and central stations are at the forefront of understanding the growth opportunities available to their channel partners. Take advantage of their expertise and wisdom.

In this Issue

In the article, “Fiercely Competitive,” associate editor Sabrina Gasulla documents the winners and honorees of the Central Station Alarm Association’s Central Station Excellence Awards. From central station of the year to operator of the year, Sabrina relates the unique characteristics, skills and accomplishments of each winner with the aim of providing ideas that other central station professionals can implement.