Security Services Providers Set to Embrace IP
Tevin Wang | Date:
Security services providers (SSPs) are adjusting their business models and marketing strategies to seek more profitable operations as competition heats up. The current trend is the integration of video and alarm systems, for the sake of keeping false alarms down. As responding to every “triggered” alarm can be costly, smarter detection is a boon for integrated video and alarm solutions.
With IP connectivity, numerous subsystems can be integrated more easily, compared to analog systems. “Over these past years, we have upgraded our infrastructure, including back-end platforms such as panels, DVRs and network gateways.” said Robert Lien, Assistant VP of R&D for Taiwan, Secom.
More accessible than ever, video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) can include self monitoring, real-time alerts, integrated analytics and off-site storage. Among these services, video verification service (VVS) is a lucrative opportunity for SSPs and alarm-monitoring companies as these operators can vet alarms first to eliminate false ones before dispatching guards or passing that information on to the police. “Visual verification allows SSPs to lower false-alarm rates and increase workforce efficiency,” Lien said.
According to IMS Research, VSaaS was estimated to be worth more than US$500 million in 2011, an increase of 25 percent compared to 2010 and could exceed $1 billion by 2014.
Challenges and Opportunities
The IP-enabled market looks promising; however, according to Lien, only a few companies that are already ready with commercial models will benefit from this development. A few challenges remain. Numerous installers are intimidated by IT infrastructure and setup. It is even more challenging for traditional SSPs, in terms of IP knowledge acquisition and marketing, Lien cautioned. “The future of physical security is definitely going IP. It is important to keep up.” The winners will be the ones that adapt, adjust and promote solutions early in the transition.
Empowering research, technical and administrative staff is no small feat either. “We had to recruit more personnel with an IT background and to offer more internal trainings. These efforts do take time and money, but the effect would not be seen overnight,” Lien said. “Take the signal communication network for example. Many alarm-monitoring stations still rely on PSTN. Installers are used to its setup, system diagnosis and troubleshooting. It's a steep learning curve met with a lot of resistance and reluctance, compared to the PSTN simplicity. All these translate to the relatively slow initial uptake.”
With added services, dealers have to train their staff to better understand new offerings, allowing sales teams to present the services to customers more effectively. “Operators have to be trained on how to use a new operating system; engineers have to learn how to integrate different hardware platforms; and tech support people have to learn a new way of thinking about problems in the field,” Lien said. “Even installers have to learn entirely new troubleshooting skills.”
Turning a profit with a new offering in a financially challenging time is never easy. With IP, video feeds, lighting and HVAC control, intrusion detection and home entertainment systems can be unified and connected. “IP-based technology has vastly changed the way we do business and opened the doors to new applications for our customers. We carefully watch trends in the marketplace and make adjustments to our capabilities as required. IP has also brought many new suppliers into the marketplace,” said Lisa Ciappetta, Senior Director of Marketing at Protection One. “Our challenge is to decide when cutting-edge technologies cross the line into practical offerings that we can support in the field and our customers find valuable enough to invest in.”