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by: Leif Kothe - Tuesday, December 31, 2013

DirectView Security Systems, a division of New York-based DirectView Holdings, is adding a video verification component its offerings to clients, which include both commercial and larger residential customers. As part of the initiative, the company plans to incorporate central station alarm monitoring and remote video surveillance into a comprehensive security solution.

In its initial announcement, DirectView stated it would provide a state-of-the-art UL-Listed facility for these services, but at this this juncture it’s not clear who that third-party partner will be. Security Systems News reached out to DirectView but did not receive a response by press time.

The impetus behind the video verification push, the company noted in the announcement, is multifaceted. As any champion of video verification will tell you, the value proposition lies in the technology’s ability to add the extra layer of security of trained professionals monitoring video footage, while saving clients money by reducing false alarms. In the announcement, the company said the solution will enable clients to also save money by reducing their dependence on on-site staff.

The verification component can also provide added urgency to a legitimate alarm, making dispatches a higher priority for law enforcement.

“We have received numerous inquiries from both current and potential clients about these services as part of a comprehensive and competitively priced security solution,” Roger Ralston, CEO and chairman of DirectView, stated in a press release. He added that the central station initiative is designed to make the company a “one-stop-shop” for comprehensive security solutions.

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, December 18, 2013

By way of a partnership with Axis Communications, cloud-based video verification service I-View Now is expanding its hosted video offering to include both cloud-hosted and central station monitored video with the release of its I-View Cloud service.

I-View Now made the announcement today in a news release. “Cloud stored video has matured as a service and product offering and coupling those benefits with central station monitoring is a true game changer,” Larry Folsom, president of I-View Now, stated in the news release.

The pairing of the cloud solution with Axis’ IP cameras offers customers a video monitoring service with the added security of central station backing. The video is streamed to the cloud then supplied to the central station for professional monitoring.

Just more than a week ago, at Affiliated Monitoring’s Security Summit ’13, I had the privilege of meeting Larry Folsom after hearing him speak as a panelist about sales strategies for video verification offerings, which continue to move on a trajectory toward broader, more mainstream adoption.

One of the overarching points Folsom emphasized in that panel was the importance of determining and then targeting a specific market for which a given video verification service or platform is best suited. He’s practicing what he preaches. Judging by the company’s statements, the I-View Cloud seems ideal for small businesses with low camera count sites, especially franchises with multiple locations (the release points specifically to gas stations, convenience stores and retail outlets). As with any cloud offering, the advantages are obvious: less reliance on less reliable forms of local storage for video clips.

In the coming days I plan to follow up in greater depth on some other RMR sources within the I-View Now cloud offering, including VSaaS, guard tours and video alarm verification from one installation.

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

AT&T has officially launched its mobile PERS unit, called the EverThere, a small wearable unit manufactured by Numera Libris. The device automatically detects falls, has two-way emergency calling, and will deliver both enterprise and direct-to-consumer solutions.

Chris Penrose, SVP, AT&T, emerging devices, shed some light on AT&T's plans for channeling the product to market. “In terms of end-users, unlike traditional PERS, which target individuals in their 80s, this mobile solution would offer true independence and freedom for the healthy aging population as well as those living with chronic conditions.”

For me, AT&T’s announcement has a touch of synchronicity.  For something of a niche offering, mPERS has come up quite a bit over the past two weeks, the topic surfacing in conversations with Josh Garner, CEO of AvantGuard Monitoring, and Kristin Hebert, dealer relations at Acadian Monitoring Services, who both said their companies have made strides with the fledgling offering. Though traditional units still comprise about 90 percent of their PERS account bases, the gains do represent some modest traction for a market that was essentially a non-starter some three or four years ago.

Unlike the market for traditional PERS, which consensus says is poised to explode, mPERS tends to have a few more skeptics. A common critique I hear about mPERS is that if you’re pitching the product to a healthy, ambulatory, active senior demographic, that very same demographic, by virtue of being healthy, ambulatory and active, will see no reason to pay for the unit. Another position I encounter is that cell phones, in all their ubiquity, have all but usurped the value of mPERS units.

This second point is worthy of consideration, but as AT&T’s device illustrates, the automated response provided by certain mPERS units or even professionally monitored mobile apps offers some differentiation.

As always, time will tell whether mPERS adoption will be buoyed along with traditional PERS, as the latter makes its projected rise in the market. As these markets become more valuable, I’ll be interested to see how some of the central stations fare as competition proliferates, both in the industry and outside of it.

by: Leif Kothe - Friday, December 6, 2013

The big news emanating out of Affiliated Monitoring’s Security Summit ’13 was (as expected) the roll out of InView, the company’s new video monitoring platform. Compatible with a host of DVR and NVR manufacturers, the suite signals Affiliated's entrance into video verified alarms.

In his welcome speech, Affiliated president Stanley Oppenheim told dealers they can expect to provide services in the coming years that they may not even be thinking about now. And, based on vice president Daniel Oppenheim's keynote, InView may be the platform that tries to bear that philosophy out. The suite is designed to continuously add new functionalities, Oppenheim said, and though he couldn’t disclose all that was in the pipeline, it’s safe to say he expects the offering to be a powerful generator of RMR.

Befitting the introduction of InView, the morning session consisted of a sales strategy panel with Larry Folsom, president of American Video and Security and CEO of I-View Now, and Deanna Blair of Videofied, who describes herself as a “video verification evangelista.” The panel was moderated by Mike Zydor, managing director at Affiliated.

In the discussion, Folsom talked about the positive correlation between sales and demos with video verified alarms. Demos are a crucial step in selling verificatio technology, he said, because there’s no better way to demonstrate its unique value to subscribers. Both Blair and Folsom also stressed the importance of honing in on a specific market, and leading instead of finishing with video verification when pursuing a sale.

After an InView demonstration led by Affiliated’s Aaron Salma and Larry Weintraub, we were led by Ashley Owens, Affiliated territory manager for the south, on a tour of the central station. This proved to be a major highlight of the summit. The place is sleek, and it’s hard to imagine that just a few years ago the venue was a furniture warehouse. The main space for operators and dealer relations personnel is spacious, and still has ample room to accommodate personnel growth in the future. The interior of the facility underwent a wholesale revision. I was told by Jesse Rivest, regional sales manager at Affiliated, that the mezzanine overlooking the much of the central's interior did not even exist when Affiliated bought the facility.

The tour concluded with us given access to a room housing two enormous, bright yellow Caterpillar generators which, should the need arise, allow the facility to run without external power assistance for 24 days straight.

This blog is beginning to stretch the limits of its medium, so I’ll plan to follow up with more highlights from the show in a future post or in the summit roundup. 

by: Leif Kothe - Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I first got word in the fall about Affiliated Monitoring’s Security Summit ’13, and the event caught my attention then because it was designed around a very focused topic which I've covered more frequently of late: video monitoring.

Tomorrow I depart for Affiliated’s headquarters in Union, N.J., where I’ll partake in several seminars developed to educate dealers about the best way to incorporate video monitoring into their business.

While the summit bears the title “Earn more money with Video,” that doesn’t totally do justice to the breadth and scope of the seminar topics. There’s a session on making the transition from analog to IP video. There’s a roundtable discussion on interactive services as it pertains to video monitoring, and how dealers can take advantage of video to bolster the usefulness of home automation packages.

The other seminars deal with video monitoring success stories, featuring companies that have boosted RMR from the offering, and an “ask the lawyer” section in which dealers can ask an alarm industry attorney the legal questions that could have a bearing on how they run their business.

I hope to be active on Twitter throughout the day, and to pen a blog or two about the most resonant discussion points that unfold amid the seminars.

by: Leif Kothe - Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Buoyed by the $487 million acquisition of Security Networks, Ascent Capital, the holding company that owns Monitronics, posted some sterling numbers for the third quarter of 2013—numbers that underscore why investment firms continue to find the RMR model attractive (long-term contracts, high margins, cash flow predictability). The list goes on.

Ascent’s net revenue for the three and nine months (ended Sept. 30, 2013) increased 36.8 percent and 27.4 percent, respectively. The growth was fueled by an increase in subscriber accounts and “the related increase in monthly recurring revenue,” according to an Ascent news release.

Security Networks was no small acquisition; when it was purchased in July it was the fourteenth largest residential alarm monitoring company in the United States. In addition to bringing in 225 dealers, the move brought another 195,000 accounts into the fold.

Ascent also reported that Monitronics’ adjusted EBITDA for the three and nine months intervals increased 35.2 percent and 27.1 percent, respectively. They also saw a modest increase in RMR per subscriber (6.3 percent).

The news release would suggest this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Ascent Capital on the acquisition front in the alarm space. Ascent chairman and CEO Bill Fitzgerald stated, “Looking ahead, we remain committed to identifying accretive acquisition opportunities, making certain that we continue to put shareholder capital to work in an effective and productive manner.”

Mike Haislip, president and CEO of Monitronics, noted that the near-term goals include further integrating the Security Networks business, and positioning the combined company for future growth.

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Security Partners has hired Richard Bosley III, formerly of AlarmWATCH, to be its new operations manager, a position in which he will oversee the company's development in the wake of acquiring its second central station.

Bosley held multiple positions over an 18-year stint at his former company where he said, at one time or another, he worked “every position,” doing everything from service calls, IT and data entry to marketing and dealer support.

Bosley said his top priority at Security Partners remains on track: to get the Lancaster central station and the San Antonio facility, which it acquired in August, “fully, 100 percent hot redundant.” This involves switching both centrals to the Tadiran phone system and adding Bold’s Manitou servers to the San Antonio central. The two-fold process is scheduled to be completed sometime in January. 

Beyond the primary goal of redundancy, Bosley hopes to use his experience in a diverse range of positions to strengthen the critical relationships between Security Partners and its dealers, and between dealers and end users. “When [dealers] grow, we grow,” he said, adding that Security Partners plans to “refocus the central station to give some customer service training and backup support, and be able to offer services that Security Partners might not have thought about in the past.”

Another major area of emphasis, he said, will be helping dealers grow and market themselves, thereby forging stronger relationships with customers. “If you’re not reaching out to your customers we almost guarantee another alarm company is,” Bosley noted. “We really want to help dealers become more acquainted with end users instead of just installing alarms and collecting checks each month.”

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Weeks after the announcement that Hank Groff, formerly the director of the dealer program at Guardian Protection Services, was tapped to run the partner program at Dynamark, Guardian has made a hiring of its own.

The super-regional, based in Warrendale, Pa., hired Brian Helt to be its new VP of the authorized dealer program, a newly created position, according to a company statement

A 15-year veteran of the industry, Helt comes to Guardian from Interlogix, where he held several sales leadership positions and managed departments dedicated to acquiring and developing business relationships with dealers.

Prior to Interlogix, Helt served in management roles at UTC Fire and Security and GE Security, while being the owner and operator of his own security business in Kansas City.

Helt has experience growing dealer programs, so it will be worth tracking what kind of impact his hiring has for the company, and to see what responsibilities he takes on in the new role. I’m also interested to see what the move means as far as Guardian’s national footprint is concerned.

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by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Some hiring news surfaced this week from north of the border. Yorkton, Saskatchewan-based SecurTek, which has three central stations in Canada and commercial and residential accounts in several provinces, hired Darrell Jones to be its new president and CEO, the company announced in a news release.

Jones comes to the SecurTek, a subsidiary of SaskTel, a Canadian telecom company, from outside the industry. He worked previously at the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation, and his background also includes active involvement as a board member with the Real Estate Institute of Manitoba.

He’ll now be at the helm of a company with a dealer network of 150 partners, in retail, wholesale monitoring and security servicing. In addition to its commercial and residential security offerings, SecurTek provides video and medical monitoring.

“Darrell has established strong and positive working relationships with the non-profit sector, stakeholder organizations, and the private sector in his role with the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation,” Ron Styles, SaskTel President and CEO, said in a news release. “Darrell will be a strong addition to the SecurTek team and I’m confident under his leadership SecurTek will continue to grow and thrive.”

In the coming week I hope to speak with Jones about the transition to the security industry, and to explore how his background in real estate could be a boon to someone hoping to expand the company’s residential and commercial account bases.

by: Leif Kothe - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Some intriguing financial news out of the Monitronics/Ascent Capital camp. Ascent Capital Group’s largest direct stockholder, media mogul John Malone, recently sold half his preferred shares—worth $32.7 million in cash—back to the company, according to a news release from Ascent Capital. The divestment comes nearly three years after Ascent acquired Monitronics in a $1.2 billion deal.

Malone, who sold 351,734 shares, now owns the same number of Series B shares, plus 198,540 Series A shares, which together comprise 21.6 percent of the Ascent shareholder vote, the release noted.

In an email exchange, Henry Edmonds, president of The Edmonds Group, a St. Louis-based investment bank, indicated that the move would likely please shareholders. "Ascent has had plenty of cash on its balance sheet so this is not a bad use of funds to help stock price," he said.

It will be interesting to see what (if any) effect this has on operations at Monitronics, a wholly owned operating subsidiary of Ascent. An investor I contacted seemed to believe it would not have much effect. Yesterday, the company announced that it will report its earnings on Nov. 12, 2013. On that date, the company will host a conference call in which management will give an update on Ascent’s operations, including the financial performance of Monitronics, and “may also discuss future opportunities,” the release said.

In all likelihood I’ll be dialing into that conference call, which I’m hoping will shed some light on what those opportunities might be. 

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