There is a growing trend towards more outsourcing of the monitoring function among security companies. Technology developments are accelerating and increasing the need for monitoring companies to invest. The barriers to entry are higher than ever.
These are some of the trends covered in a discussion at Securing New Ground 2019 titled ‘Monitoring: New Models and New Monetisation Strategies’. A panel of monitoring company executives addressed topics centered on how the industry is changing and evolving.
New entrants in the monitoring space
New entrants in the monitoring space face barriers to entry, in particular the need for more investment"“New entrants in the monitoring space face barriers to entry, in particular the need for more investment in infrastructure and expertise,” said Spencer Moore, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Rapid Response Monitoring. ”Because of the expense of new technologies, more full-service monitoring companies are outsourcing the monitoring function to existing wholesale monitoring companies.”
“The cost of entry has gone up, and companies are trying to preserve capital,” agreed Jim McMullen, President/COO at COPS Monitoring. “Larger companies are realising wholesale monitoring does a better job from a customer service viewpoint. We are more focused on monitoring and the quality of service. It takes a lot of money to keep up with the cyber world,” added McMullen.
Wholesale monitoring companies
Wholesale monitoring companies are finding that they need petabytes of storage space, among other expensive requirements.
“The trend is toward technology evolving quicker, and that often requires investment and training in a monitoring center,” said Daniel Oppenheim, CEO of Affiliated Monitoring. “Because trying out new technology is so important, wholesale monitoring centers often find that they serve as a ‘laboratory’ to experiment with newer technologies. Limited trials often expand later to broader outsourcing of a company’s monitoring services”, said Oppenheim.
Automated Secure Alarm Protocol
“What people miss out on is that monitoring is quite complex, and there are specialised services and skillsets, and barriers to entry from a regulatory perspective,” said Moore.
Adding value to the monitoring function is The Monitoring Association’s ASAP-to-PSAP service
Adding value to the monitoring function is The Monitoring Association’s ASAP-to-PSAP service. The national service saves time, improves accuracy and increases efficiency in communications between monitoring centers and public safety answering points (PSAPs). The service uses the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP).
Public Safety Answering Points
Up to 60 PSAPS have joined the programme, although the low number is misleading, given that a single PSAP could represent the ‘City of Houston’. (There are an estimated 6,000 total PSAPs nationwide). It has taken six to eight years to develop the program from its genesis to where it is today, when more participation is finally creating a critical mass.
Technology is fundamentally changing monitoring companies. “We used to be a services company powered by a little bit of technology, but we’re now moving toward a technology services company,” said Moore.
Critical ‘filtering service’
Monitoring provides a critical ‘filtering service’ between public requests for emergency service and those tasked with providing the services. In effect, monitoring centers work with manufacturers to make them more resilient to false alarms. Monitoring companies also provide a human touch in a time of need, and emotional empathy.
Today, emergency information is being transmitted to PSAPs electronically, which saves time and money. The current low-taxation environment means there are fewer resources for municipal governments, so cost savings make a difference.
Monitoring, a specialised skillset
Increasingly, monitoring is becoming a business that requires a more specialised skillset
Increasingly, monitoring is becoming a business that requires a more specialised skillset. Regulation, and the need for increasing investment, is driving consolidation.
“With a decreasing number of monitoring companies, there are fewer customers for software developers and other tools. Less outside innovation makes it more likely monitoring centers will have to ‘go it alone’ and develop software and other tools internally,” said Oppenheim.
Importance of monitoring systems
“In effect, consolidation will serve to limit technology choices, and to increase the need to in-source a lot of expertise”, agrees Moore.
Tying monitoring systems into other software systems is another continuing challenge. “People want our system tied into their system,” said McMullen. “I have two people who focus full time to tie our systems into other systems. There will be more computers talking to computers.”