Redundancy helps Universal Security Monitoring grow

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

GAINESVILLE, Fla. and ATLANTA—Universal Security Monitoring, which became the central station arm of Crime Prevention Security Systems when CPSS acquired the monitoring center in 1996, is growing its monitoring footprint, ramping up its AES IntelliNet radio network. It's a move central station manager Jim Carr says positions his company well for the future.

"It's great the way you can build up that multi-path, mesh network up really quickly. We don't need to worry about depending on a third party that doesn't really care about getting networks back up in a hurry," Carr told Security Systems News. "But I'm also looking about every other capability that's out there … We're always working toward 'There's no way to take us out.'"

Carr said Universal was monitoring signals through around 300 AES radios so far and more were planned.

"We just put up a new tower outside the Ocala area. We're looking at putting one in Clearwater … We've got back up to the back up to the back up."

Another part of Universal's quest for unsinkable back up revolves around a unique redundancy relationship between two independent installing security companies: CPSS in Florida and EMC Security in Atlanta.

"Universal Monitoring formed a partnership with EMC Security up in Atlanta. The reason was that [EMC president] Vince Raia was opening up his own central station up in Atlanta and we got talking. We were going to help him since we'd been running a central station since '96 and in the talking it evolved that we said, 'You know what? Let's form a partnership," CPSS president John Pastore told Security Systems News. "We can have live redundancy. We don’t think anyone does monitoring the way we do. Signals are hitting both Atlanta and Gainesville simultaneously. Atlanta covers the Atlanta calls and Gainesville handles the Gainesville calls, unless there's need and then we cover each other's calls seamlessly … The partnership has worked very, very well."

CPSS VP of operations Jorgia McAfee agreed the relationship was unique.

"We started monitoring signals for each other in 2009 and on the monitoring side it's really seamless," McAfee said. "The partnership is in Universal Monitoring, which is the monitoring entity for both EMC and Crime Prevention. Universal is a joint effort."

EMC's Raia said the partnership functioned well because of similar core values.

"We've been in business since 1998 and for the first eight years we used third party monitoring that did a pretty decent job. Now we'd always wanted to open our own central station, but we really weren't pushed to it until the service levels started to get a little sideways," Raia said "So I went to my board of directors—we're owned by three large electric utility companies here in Atlanta—and I said, 'Guys, we need to either make another decision to go third party or we need to open our own central station. Around that time, I was talking with John [Pastore at CPSS]," Raia said. "We decided this is a great opportunity for both of us to really deliver a high level of service in our respective markets. We have two central stations operating in two separate cities hundreds of miles apart that are connected all the time … I knew this would work because we have basically the same customer-service focus … We earn your business every day. Every day we compete for our customers in providing them the best customer service, the best monitoring service, the best technical support and John feels the same way."

Universal is a UL-listed, CSAA Five Diamond certified central station that monitors around 41,000 accounts between CPSS and EMC.

Security Systems News recently reported on Lancaster, Pa.-based Security Partners building out its AES mesh network as well.