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.”
To improve its reliability, COPS opened its second central station in Arizona in 2004 After devastating the Caribbean, Hurricane Matthew headed toward the Florida coast as a Category 4 storm packing heavy rain and winds between 130–156 mph. As the entire Southeastern seaboard was stocking supplies, boarding up their windows, bracing for impact, or evacuating, the team at COPS Monitoring was busy enacting an emergency preparedness plan that began over a decade ago. "When your home, business, or family is threatened with something as dangerous as a Hurricane, the last thing on most people’s mind is alarm response times,” said Jim McMullen, President & COO of COPS Monitoring. "However, you never know when someone is facing a real fire, burglary, medical, or other type of emergency situation. Our job is to work as quickly as possible to provide the response they need wherever they are located, regardless of any challenges we may be facing as their monitoring company. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously.” Improved reliability To improve its reliability, COPS opened its second central station in Arizona in 2004. "This was step in the right direction, but we quickly learned the commitment to deliver failsafe monitoring relied on more than just another location and redundant equipment; it also depended heavily on people," McMullen explained. "If something happened to one of the central stations the remaining site’s staff wouldn't be enough to deliver acceptable response time to emergency situations. It’s simple math really, fifty percent of your staff can’t handle one hundred percent of your alarm traffic, which means having two locations just isn't enough." COPS addressed this challenge by adding central stations in Florida, Tennessee, and Texas for a total of five active central stations. Its load sharing network and distributed staffing model ensures alarms are handled by the first available qualified dispatcher in any of its networked central stations, which is largely why COPS’ 12-month average priority response is an industry-leading 13.9 seconds. McMullen said perhaps the best advantage of operating multiple central stations is the flexibility of temporarily closing one of its central stations to ensure the safety of its employees without affecting service levels. Increasing staff in load-sharing locations "This tremendous act of dedication and teamwork reminded me why I fell in love with this business in the beginning" "As Hurricane Matthew approached, we were planning to minimise our staff in Boca Raton to just a few essential technical support members and increase staff at our other four load-sharing locations so our employees in South Florida could take care of their homes and families," said McMullen. "However, after ensuring their families were safe, several dispatchers committed to working through the storm to help protect our dealers and their subscribers. This tremendous act of dedication and teamwork reminded me why I fell in love with this business in the beginning." Over the next five days as Matthew battered the Florida, Georgia, and Carolina coasts, the collective effort of the COPS team outperformed its impressive 13.9-second benchmark by delivering a 12.4-second average response time to all high priority alarms – including alarms from customers in the impacted region. "I am proud of our team and their accomplishment. I believe this level of commitment is a big part of what sets us apart and I extend a true heartfelt 'Thank You' to all the COPS employees who pulled together to make this happen... especially those in our Florida office," concluded McMullen.
COPS will be providing school supplies in 600 brand new colourful backpacks to be distributed to every student COPS Monitoring, the provider of professional monitoring services in the United States, announced it will team up once again with Mission 500 August 10th & 12th to give back to its local community by providing school supplies and employment opportunities. “We are so proud to once again be partnering with COPS and Mission 500,” said Crosspointe Elementary School’s Principal Annmarie Dilbert. “They are filling a huge need for our students and their families by providing a backpack full of school supplies to every Crosspointe Elementary student. Crosspointe is classified as a Title I school, which means many of our parents have to choose between buying essential items for school and every day necessities such as food, clothing, or rent.” Donation of school supplies This year, multinational security software company Segware, and ALAS (Latin American Security Association) will join COPS in donating the assortment of age-appropriate school supplies, including notebooks, scissors, crayons, pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, and other essentials to help make this school year a success. On August 10th, COPS will be opening its doors to its customers (local independent alarm dealers) and the community to help the COPS Team load the school supplies into 600 brand new colourful backpacks to be distributed to every student during the Crosspointe Elementary back to school bash on Friday, August 12th. “It is important to help fill the immediate need of providing children with the school supplies that will give them the ability to start the school year off right,” said Jim McMullen, President & COO of COPS Monitoring. “We also hope to positively affect our community in a lasting way by offering stable employment and benefits. To stay ahead of the demands of our aggressive growth, COPS is continually looking for individuals who have a great attitude and the desire to play a role in safeguarding millions of alarm subscribers.” Employment opportunities In addition to school supplies, each backpack will go home with a note to the parents and guardians announcing employment opportunities and benefits at COPS Monitoring’s Boca Raton office, just seven miles from Crosspointe Elementary. “To have such generous business partners is a true blessing,” continued Principal Dilbert. “We are also grateful for the community bond they are helping create with possible sustainable employment with companies like COPS. We are ecstatic to have such a generous extended family!” Jeff Eichenlaub, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Mission 500 said, “We love the forward thinking of COPS Monitoring. Not only do they work to meet the tangible need of students by giving them the tools to succeed, they also realise one of the best ways to help a child in need is to help provide security for their family through solid employment.”
Widespread use of smartphones and the loT have fuelled explosive demand for connectivity, convenience and control The growing Internet of Things (loT) or intelligent, inter-connected devices are causing a paradigm shift in nearly every technology sector, including the security installing industry. The global IoT market, according to research firm IDC, Framingham, Mass., is predicted to increase from 10.3 million “endpoints” in 2014 to more than 29.5 million in 2020. This article by SourceSecurity.com's dealer/integrator correspondent, Deborah L. O’Mara looks at COPS Monitoring’s focus on helping security companies easily add a wide range of new services and corresponding RMR. Smartphones and loT connectivity demand Across the security landscape, this widespread change and adoption of devices and systems riding on the network is causing massive change across the board, from installing companies to central station monitoring firms. Jim McMullen, president and chief operating officer, COPS Monitoring, Williamstown, N.J., says widespread use of smartphones and the loT have fuelled explosive demand for connectivity, convenience and control, and the Underwriters Laboratories Listed, Factory Mutual Approved central station provider is delivering the critical services associated with these trends. “Smart hardware for items like lighting, thermostat, locking, and video cameras and useful apps to manage these components are the types of services customers want. Fortunately, many of today’s modern security systems have proven to be a viable platform for a more comprehensive connected home solution. Dealers that understand and embrace these new services can leverage the growing demand by integrating home automation and lifestyle services with security. In many cases, it equates to additional recurring monthly revenue (RMR) and a ‘stickier’ customer.” Geo-diverse hometown central stations COPS Monitoring operates six strategically located geo-diverse hometown central stations. Five central stations, in New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, Tennessee and Texas, are hot-redundant and load sharing. If local conditions affect one of its locations, it continues to deliver fast and professional service by over-staffing other load-sharing centers. The company’s sixth central station in Maryland will be integrated into its current services in 2015. "Smart hardware for items like lighting, thermostat, locking, and video cameras and useful apps to manage these components are the types of services customers want, " says Jim McMullen, President & COO COPS Monitoring McMullen says that from the company’s beginning more than 37 years ago, COPS Monitoring’s success has been dependent upon one thing: helping independent alarm dealers succeed. “Today, we are the largest independently-owned third party monitoring company in the industry, yet our regional approach allows us to maintain a more personable ‘hometown’ level of service,” he says. “With one of the most of experienced management teams in the industry and an in-house staff of programmers, COPS Monitoring not only has clear vision and leadership, but we also have the resources and ability to give our dealers an advantage by quickly adopting the best new technologies as they become available.” New services and corresponding RMR COPS Monitoring is fine-focused on helping security companies easily add a wide range of new services and corresponding RMR. “We support essentially all of the modern panels from major manufacturers that give dealers the ability to offer their customers a variety of home control, lifestyle services and security apps,” McMullen says. “In addition to the ability to control their alarm system and other connected devices, consumers can also receive notification about alarm events. We also created our own useful app for dealers to package to end-users as a white-label solution. Unfortunately, today’s security system apps don’t give customers the most important information about what happened during an alarm event - such as who was called, whether a passcode was given, or if the authorities were dispatched. That’s why professional central station monitoring services are so critical, and we wanted the results of our actions to be at the end-users’ fingertips,” he says. User-friendly interface for customer satisfaction This solution has been a differentiator for the COPS dealers: the smartphone, tablet and PC access called MPower is branded with the dealer’s logo. The interface is also colour-coordinated for a custom look and feel for each dealer. “The additional peace of mind of knowing what happened during an alarm event is why our dealers consider MPower an integral part of protecting RMR. Its user-friendly interface improves customer satisfaction and ultimately helps to reduce attrition. What’s more is that MPower can be offered as a standalone service because it works with any panel and transmission format, whether a connected home system is installed or not,” McMullen says. “Our industry is changing at a pace faster than ever before, which means dealers need a central station that can stay ahead of the technology curve and have the ability to quickly support the best emerging technology so they can provide the products and services their customers demand.”