“Have you ever been…experienced?” — Jimi Hendrix, legendary musician

It continues to amaze me how our industry has grown and developed in the past four decades. Let’s take a time trip back to 1977 and imagine how alarm companies operated then. The company I started with was Guardian Alarm Systems of Atlanta, Ga. In the old days nearly every alarm company had its own central station, even if they only had a couple of hundred accounts. Most of the alarm signals were delivered via some form of “direct wire,” which were pairs of conductors leased/rented from the local telephone company; some other signals were delivered via pre-recorded “tape dialers” connected to a client’s phone line. Digital dialer communications were just getting off the ground.

Because of this direct line issue most alarm companies’ offices were located near telephone company central offices which were usually in some of the worst parts of town. The Guardian office on W. Peachtree St. was a pretty scary place if you were on night duty, where we provided armed “runner response” to activated burglar alarms around the city. I was warned at the beginning to be very careful when entering and leaving the building, as rough characters were known to frequent the neighborhood.

While many security dealers dropped the offering of runner response, the industry’s reliance on telephone company leased lines continued into the 1980s.

As technology changed, so did our industry. Central station communications were largely taken over by digital communicators linked to clients’ phone lines; this technology spring-boarded the wholesale central stations that have come to dominate alarm signal monitoring for independent security dealers. So security companies generally became free of leased line needs, and our industry’s offices could be moved or established wherever it made the most business sense, regardless of proximity to telco central offices.

The next major technological shift in our industry was the explosive growth of video surveillance system sales. Clients not only wanted to be notified of an intrusion or problem, but wanted video evidence to review after an event. Using the latest in IP technologies it is a relatively simple process to provide smartphone/device access over the Internet for end users, which multiplies the benefits of video surveillance installations.

While the myriad of video surveillance device options can be confusing, there is nothing that can help sell a system more than showing the end user exactly how their cameras/system will function.

Axis Communications is taking a very high-road approach to providing client demonstrations with their Axis Experience Centers, currently located in Chicago, Chelmsford, Mass., and Irvine, Calif.  Each center provides live connected Axis cameras and encoders, which demonstrate typical uses of their products in small and large commercial, industrial, and institutional applications.

I have visited the Axis Experience Center in Chicago a number of times. What first impressed me about the Chicago location that it’s in the “Presidential Towers” which are five tall and modern buildings that almost everyone who has traveled to Chicago has seen as they are transported from O’Hare Airport to downtown. This is a prestigious location for any business, and it makes a dramatic statement about Axis and our industry; we are out of the low-rent district not only because the need to locate near teleco offices has been eliminated, but because our systems are absolutely critical for protecting our clients’ property and personnel and that need places our industry front-and-center in society.

At the Axis Experience Center, security dealers can schedule tours for their end user customers where many types of Axis video technologies are demonstrated in real-world applications such as a clothing store, coffee shop, and outdoor surveillance of the surrounding area.

Along with the ability to provide live demonstrations for your invited customers, the Axis Experience Centers also include a state-of-the-art training room where technicians and salespeople can learn the many uses and applications of Axis Communications products and systems.

I highly recommend that if you’re near an Axis Experience Center, call and set up a tour for yourself and your personnel. These centers demonstrate not only where our industry has risen to, but also show the latest technologies that can benefit your clients and help grow your sales. To schedule a tour in the Chelmsford location, call 978-614-2198; the Chicago location, call 978-614-2071; or the Los Angeles location, call 978-805-7795.