Netwatch open for business in U.S.

Global monitoring company aims to tap pool of college grads in Boston
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

MEDFORD, Mass.—Netwatch, an international monitoring company that uses remote video detection and personalized audio warnings to thwart would-be burglars, has expanded to North America by opening an office here.

The company, founded in 2003, monitors more than 25,000 cameras on 2,200 properties from its communications hub in Carlow, Ireland. Netwatch has customers across Europe, in South Africa and the Middle East. The Medford office opened late last year and is now taking on business on this side of the Atlantic.

David Walsh, co-founder and CEO of Netwatch, said the company chose Greater Boston for its third office because of the area’s strong cultural ties to Ireland and because of its young and talented work force.

“The Massachusetts area has a huge supply of high-quality college graduates,” he said. “With the monitoring we offer, it’s very important that the individual is of the highest caliber. We discovered that the college graduate is not fazed by the technology itself and is more than capable of introducing the protocols that we have agreed to with the client.”

The company uses CCTV cameras and a “highly intelligent” video software system to protect property perimeters, Walsh said. The system detects moving objects and can differentiate “real events from what we call nuisance activity—wildlife, autos and so on.”

After an alarm is triggered, live footage activates a screen at the monitoring station within three seconds, Walsh said. Operators can then confront the intruder audibly with a personalized message—a warning to leave that includes a description of the person’s clothing, for instance—and notify police.

“We’ve never had a situation where the individual ignored the audio warning,” Walsh said, adding that Netwatch has thwarted more than 35,000 attempted break-ins since its inception. “We can intervene immediately with the audio challenge and we can prevent the crime from taking place without a confrontation.”

Walsh said Netwatch isn’t trying to replace traditional burglar alarm monitoring. Instead, it is offering customers the chance to replace on-site security guards “at a fraction of the cost.”

“We go to a client and we do a very detailed risk assessment of the site,” he said. “We tailor a solution to the specific site—wildlife, topography, the codes they have to follow and what they can afford.”

Ninety-five percent of Netwatch’s business involves commercial properties, many of which are large—“industries, automobile, pharmaceutical, that type of environment,” Walsh said. For those who couldn’t justify the cost of security guards to cover such expanses in the past, the company can help bridge the gap, he said.

“Instead of asking for $70,000 upfront for a 10-camera system, for example, we can go in and say here’s the deal: an all-inclusive price of $60 or $70 a day, depending on the technology we use, and they can have it for a three-year contract,” Walsh said.

Walsh said Netwatch has about 120 employees worldwide and plans to double in size in the next three years.

“For now we will continue to do all of our monitoring from our hub in Ireland, but the plan is as we spread out in North America that we will build a communications hub in the Northeast to service the U.S. market,” he said.