SentryCom launches video command center

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003

VALENCIA, Calif. - Following about two years of planning and design, Sen-tryCom, an interactive video monitoring provider, has launched its command center here, which is initially serving about 18 dealers and approximately 1,500 accounts from Florida to Hawaii.

“The bulk of the time the past two years has been spent on design and getting dealers in a row before going live,” commented Bret Bass, vice president-technology. Bass said SentryCom’s 2,000-square-foot command center can accommodate 30 to 35 dispatchers - there are currently nine on staff - and there is room to grow at the site, as well.

Chief Executive Officer Kurt Strasser said the business launched in mid-April, with clients beta testing the company’s video-related services. Live service was scheduled to begin in May.

Initial monitoring offerings include basic video alarm verification; interactive monitoring; virtual patrol tours, which replace or supplement on-site guards; virtual management tours, which may include employee safety checks, covert employee surveillance, store traffic and merchandising handling reports and other marketing-related applications; a virtual guard, which involves two-way audio and video; employee safe escort services; opening and closing services; and point-of-sale monitoring.

Of the services offered, Strasser said initially the most widely used has been the virtual tour, interactive monitoring services and video verification of alarms.

He noted many dealers said they have been interested in offering video-related products, but have been discouraged by limitations on the type of equipment and services they could offer.

Current developments around the nation related to video verification for alarms and the development of DVRs, IP cameras and other technology, helped point Strasser in the direction of an interactive service.

Rather than have a single equipment provider, Strasser said SentryCom has tested and selected equipment from a large provider group, giving more flexibility to dealers on installations. The products were evaluated as related to remote access, he said, and also needed to be from companies that dealers were installing.

Companies with which they are working include Cascadia, GE Interlogix, Integral Technologies, Alpha Systems Lab, Kodicom and others.

A proprietary back-end system allows SentryCom to bridge communications with various equipment from different manufacturers. This, Strasser said, “allows the dealer to offer a suite of services he couldn’t offer before.”

Strasser said SentryCom shies away from conventional alarm monitoring, although it will monitor such alarm systems for dealers who offer both types of services. “Our program relates to video or interactive,” Strasser said, adding, “it’s constructed to appeal to integrated systems people and IT people as well as alarm dealers.”

“There’s a huge void in the market and we’re sitting right in the middle of it,” he said.

Strasser noted SentryCom isn’t setting itself up as a competitor to third-party central stations; in fact, he has had some conversations with these centrals about handling their video services.