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by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

HAGERSTOWN, Md.—Dynamark announced in late September a new funding program for its alarm dealers, allowing dealers to get loans for their accounts.

Hank Groff, senior VP of sales and business development for Dynamark, told Security Systems News that the funding program is a new approach for the company. “It really is fulfilling a demand by security companies across the country of providing a financial solution for them to continue to be independent and working with a central station that provides them financial solutions,” he said.

The program will have two options, Groff explained. The first is its Account Loan Program, where a dealer will get a loan for each account they bring online. The second is the Credit Line Program, allowing dealers access to a line of credit.

“The first option is best utilized for someone who is either a start up, and doesn't have the reoccurring monthly revenue, or who has been a long-time security dealer, selling their paper through a funding program,” Groff said.

Dynamark is partnering with two financial institutions to provide the funding, Groff said.

Alongside this option, the company will also continue to buy accounts directly from dealers, it said in the announcement.

The option to sell accounts to Dynamark benefits dealers in the program, according to Groff. “The benefit is, if down the road they ever choose to sell any of these accounts, because they’re already with us … they can present the portfolio to us or any percentage [of their portfolio], we can look at it—we already know that it’s being monitored with us—and we can make an easy transaction.”

Before joining the program, dealers can get a consultation from one of Dynamark’s regional managers, without any commitment, the company said.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, September 14, 2016

ARLINGTON, Mass.—American Alarm and Communications recently acquired Electralarm Security Systems, adding on 500 accounts. The deal brings American Alarm to about 25,000 accounts total, Lou Sampson, the company's CFO, told Security Systems News

"We were in discussions for about three or four months earlier in 2016. The discussions began when Paul D’Amato Sr. [Electralarm's founder] reached out to us (through his broker)," Sampson said via email. "Paul had known of American Alarm for years, and our family, and he knew of our business reputation and our commitment to quality service, which was very important for him."

Electralarm's account base was pretty evenly divided between residential and commercial, Sampson said, but "slightly weighted towards residential." American Alarm's account base also has a slight lean toward residential in terms of number of accounts, he said. "But in terms of scale of systems, our commercial portfolio is larger, and it is growing significantly."

Paul "Chip" D'Amato, Electralarm's lead technician, will join American alarm in a similar capacity, American Alarm said. 

Integrating Electralarm's account base into American's has been "seamless," according to Sampson. "One of the most important parts of the successful transition has been Chip D’Amato’s efforts. He hasn’t missed a beat. He’s still working with the Electralarm customers, to help with the transition," Sampson added. 

The deal is the 27th acquisition American Alarm has completed, Sampson pointed out, and most of those purchases have been in the past 12 to 15 years. "We are always prepared to work with other companies and respond quickly when opportunities arise," he said.

Electralarm was based in Abington, Mass., approximately 20 miles south of Boston. The company handled its own monitoring, which will now be done through American Alarm's UL-listed, CSAA Five Diamond central station. 

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, September 7, 2016

At CSAA's upcoming annual meeting—to be held on Marco Island, Fla., Oct. 22 through 26—there will be a panel devoted to cybersecurity, which the association announced more about this week.

I spoke with Jay Hauhn, CSAA’s executive director, recently about the meeting as well as other focuses for the association.

Hauhn said that the annual meeting's cybersecurity panel was going to approach the subject in a new way, looking to focus on what companies should do about cybersecurity.

“We are not going to repeat what has been done ad-nauseum and have someone stand at the front of the room and scare everyone about cyber threats,” Hauhn told SSN. “We are going to focus on something actionable.  We are having experts talk about how to put a cyber protection program together.”

The panel, entitled “Cyber Security is a Business Risk (Not Just an IT Risk),” will include Justin Bailey, AvantGuard’s COO, Todd Neilson, president for Secuvant Security, Sascha Kylau, VP of central station solutions and service at Onetel, and Steve Butkovich, CPI Security Systems’ chief technology officer.

CSAA is going to be looking at cloud based central station automation platforms in a similar way at the meeting, Hauhn said. The panel will not only approach the features of the cloud, but what businesses’ cost savings could be and how they can get started with a cloud based platform. 

Currently, the association has an early bird rate for the meeting, which ends this Friday, Sept. 9.

CSAA is also keeping an eye on other emerging technological issues. Hauhn mentioned that the industry is changing, and standards are needed for newer technologies; CSAA recently put out the call for SMEs to assist with new technology standards.

“Monitoring life safety events in the traditional central station model remains our core business. That will not change. However, new innovative applications and services are being offered by our members. Best practices need to be created, that outline the actions monitoring centers take in this expanding environment,” said Hauhn.

“For example, when a service that monitors an asset in motion requires a dispatch of police or EMS, we have to be able to accommodate the asset traversing municipalities,” he said.   

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

In a recent SSN News Poll readers said that DIY offerings can add new streams of revenue to a traditional security business and open a company up to new customers. A couple of those respondents specifically pointed to the DragonFly offering from Honeywell, which pairs DIY installed equipment with professional monitoring.

Earlier this year, Bart Didden of USA Central Station started a new venture, Security Dealer Network, or SDN, to help dealers offer the DragonFly product with professional monitoring from USA Central.

This week, SDN announced that its heard some positive feedback from dealers.

“As a professional security dealer and installer, I’ve been concerned about the quick growth of DIY security products. The DragonFly Security System gives me the chance to get a piece of that business, along with the confidence that my customers are getting the quality of products that I would want to represent my name,” Kimberly Rescigno, director of sales and marketing for Security Specialists in Stamford, Conn., said in a prepared statement.

“This program gives us the ability to offer a tried and true product with a high performance rating as a DIY product. There is absolutely no risk for us to participate. And the upside—a new source of profits that could be substantial,” Patty Terada, president of Alarm & Access Control Technologies, Inc., located in West Linn, Ore., said in the announcement.

Joseph V. Bonafede, president of Technocality Inc. of Hamilton, N.J., said in a prepared statement. “Anyone on the front lines who is selling and installing security systems knows that DIY video and security products have become a main source of competition. As the old saying goes, ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’ That’s exactly what SDN allows dealers to do with its unique do-it-yourself video surveillance products and central station monitoring offering.

SSN spoke with Didden in Las Vegas at this year’s ISC West to hear about some of the initial responses to SDN and the DragonFly offering. Click here to watch the ssnTVnews interview.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In the past couple of weeks, Monitronics has announced new benefits for active members of AARP and AAA, offering benefits both to members signing up for services with Monitronics as well as members who are current customers.

"These partnerships are set up uniquely utilizing various co-marketing strategies to make their respective member aware of the value and benefits that Monitronics can provide,"  Frank Guido, Monitronics' CMO, told Security Systems News in an email interview.

"These initiatives were started many months ago, but has been a strategic focus to fuel growth opportunities with high quality, well recognized partners," Guido said. "We are targeting channels that are synergistic to our business and the potential partner’s business.  We are selectively targeting similarly partnerships that provide win-win-win opportunities for customers first, our partner and Monitronics.

The company announced its partnership with AAA on Aug. 23, which named Monitronics as “the AAA-branded provider for professionally installed residential security monitoring in the organization's Ohio valley and Mid-Atlantic regions, which covers 11 states, including OH, KY, KS, IN, VA, WV, MD, DE, CT, PA, NJ, plus Washington DC.”

"AAA Alliance is a large regional club for AAA with a member base of over 5.5 [million] members. These members also have excellent attributes and are similar to our base," Guido said.

Brian St. Leger, managing director, discount partnerships and business for AAA Club Alliance, said in a prepared statement, "We are excited to partner with Monitronics to provide a valuable service at an exclusive discounted rate to our members.

"We know our members are active, traveling and out enjoying the world and this will help bring them peace of mind while they're away from their home," St. Leger said in the announcement.

AAA members signing up with the company will get discounts on a specialized AAA package, while members who are already customers will be offered discounts on additional equipment.

AARP members who sign up with Monitronics will receive equipment and free activation “as well as $5 off their monthly monitoring fee,” the company said in an Aug. 11 announcement.  Existing customers who are also AARP members will be offered discounts when they add on equipment in the future.

"AARP has a 38M member base and is highly respected brand. Their member base has many positive attributes and similarities to our customer base," Guido said. "Monitronics felt that it could provide AARP members with the best value proposition and service for security and automation. This was affirmed by AARP in the selection of Monitronics in their extensive RFP process."

How much overlap exists between these organizations' memberships and Monitronics' current customer base? "While there may be some overlap, these organization are vast and provide different avenues to reach new subscribers," Guido said.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, August 17, 2016

For the first time, PPVAR is looking to offer online operator training. Yesterday, the partnership put out the call for volunteers that would like to help write modules for this training.

The call was a "great success," with 47 total registrants, individuals had registered for it, PPVAR's immediate past president Steve Walker told SSN in an email interview.

Part of the call covered PPVAR's mission and approach, as well as its overall objective with the training. "The process of finding volunteers for any worthwhile initiative is difficult because qualified people have so many demands on their time," Walker said. "Therefore, we want our volunteers to understand the value of what we are trying to accomplish while also explaining how the process will ensure that we use their time respectfully, efficiently and effectively."

PPVAR has hired a professional training firm to do most of the "leg work," he said. "[O]ur volunteers will provide the creative oversight needed for ensuring a great final product that is creative, accurate, meaningful and effective."

"The ideal volunteers are people with experience in using verification technologies (audio and video) in monitoring centers today—people that can draw on their own experiences to know what works and doesn’t work in the real world. Owners, central station personnel (leaders and trainers) were all represented in the call," Walker said.  

"Our end goal is to develop seven different online training modules that will be useful for central station employees and PSAP employees, alike," Walker said. 

There are seven tracks that PPVAR is focusing on. According to PPVAR, the goal is to have the first module done in the next 30 to 60 days. 

“Crime in Progress Verification Monitoring – Introduction,” which focuses on audio and video verification as compared to other methods of reducing false alarms.

“Design of a Video Verified System,” which covers information on how verified systems are installed, as well as software platforms specifically for video verification.

The “PSAP Communications” module covers communication between operators and PSAPs regarding verification.

“Video Threat Levels and Flowchart” focuses on how operators should execute decision making within the Threat Level Flow Chart, as described in the Video Alarm Verification Best Practices.  

The “Design of an Audio Verified System” track will cover the installation of an audio verified system, as well as software platforms specifically for audio verification.

“Audio Threat Levels and Flowchart” looks at how operators should execute decision making within the Threat Level Flow Chart, as described in the Video Alarm Verification Best Practices.  

The final module, “Verification and Insurance Impacts,” is designed to make insurance agents able to better advise clients on options available in mitigating costs related to crime.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tunstall Americas announced its new Vi+ personal emergency response system earlier in the month, with an integral sensor for ambient temperature. Yesterday, the company announced that extreme temperature monitoring will be provided free of charge to its subscribers.

“Record breaking heat across the United States this summer prompted Tunstall Americas to offer Temperature Extremes monitoring free of charge to subscribers of their home based medical alert service,” the company said in the release.

“Environmental changes indicate that the frequency and severity of heat waves will continue. We are pleased that we are in a position to offer this potentially lifesaving benefit to our current and future subscribers of our Vi Medical Alert System at no additional cost,” Casey Pittock, president and CEO of Tunstall Americas, said in a prepared statement.

The system will look for temperatures either above 89 degrees Fahrenheit or below 50 degrees, at which point the subscriber or caregiver will be notified.

Extreme temperatures specifically concern many of the typical PERS users. “Tunstall’s core base of subscribers, the elderly, individuals with chronic conditions, and other at risk populations have been reported to be the most vulnerable to extreme heat related illness,” the company said.

Tunstall Americas operates its own monitoring centers in New York and Rhode Island. 

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

It’s been great to see more companies becoming involved with charity work with Mission 500. Coming up next week, on Aug. 10, is an event held in partnership between COPS Monitoring and Mission 500 to benefit schools and the surrounding communities nearby the monitoring center’s office in Boca Raton, Fla. 

Mission 500, COPS, as well as security software company Segware and the Latin American Security Association, are putting together backpacks for students of Crosspointe Elementary School. These would include including supplies like scissors, crayons, pens, pencils, erasers, and rulers.

“We are so proud to once again be partnering with COPS and Mission 500,” Crosspointe Elementary School’s principal Annmarie Dilbert said in a prepared statement. “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.”

“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,” Jim McMullen, president & COO of COPS Monitoring, said in the announcment.

“We also hope to positively affect our community in a lasting way by offering stable employment and benefits,” McMullen said. The backpacks will each include a note from COPS on employment opportunities at the company’s Boca Raton office.

COPS Monitoring held a similar event in September 2015, packing 700 backpacks for a Title 1 school in Boynton Beach Fla.

Also in recent news with Mission 500, the organization will be working this weekend with Monitronics to put on a charitable 5k.

I look forward to hearing about more companies using this model of partnering with Mission 500 and their local communities.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HOBOKEN, N.J.—Voice activation has been an interesting topic that I’ve seen coming up more frequently when I hear about PERS—most recently when I spoke with Ritch Haselden, VP of sales at Essence Group, this week about Essence’s upcoming products, and what it takes to include voice activation. 

One of the things he highlighted in the company’s product roadmap is Essence’s VPD, and Haselden told me a lot about what went in to setting up voice capabilities in the company's VPD—standing for Voice Panic Detector. "The VPDwill be available for purchase this summer and is expected in the next few weeks," Haselden said.

“What that’ll allow somebody to do is be able to activate a pendant by saying a particular phrase of a particular series of words,” he said. The product is always listening for a particular phrase, he said, and when it hears that phrase it would act like a button press on the PERS unit.

Haselden said that, further on down the road, Essence could use voice activation to open up two-way dialogue with the central station.

The company has been testing the phrase “Call 911,” Haselden said. The process of picking a phrase to test was intensive, he said, making sure that it wasn’t common enough to be said in everyday conversation or on the television, but still easy to remember.

Testing involved a large variety of different people, saying the test phrase, “Call 911,” in a variety of pitches. “We’ve been testing in all kinds of different scenarios to make sure that we’re really getting down to a really quality product that provides a low rate of false alarms,” he said.

Essence would consider customized phrases for different companies if they requested such, Hasleden said, “Our process internally is we would at least test that phrase, but we’re definitely going to provide a lot of feedback and information on: Is that a phrase that (A) people can remember, (B) that people can actually articulate well, and (C) does the technology differentiate the words well enough so that it provides a solid response.” 

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

ItsPayd.com, a company that makes an application to help dealers collect past due payments, recently added Rapid Response Monitoring as its first Affiliate Partner Program member, a program that specifically applies to companies with a central station.

The application uses text messages and emails to notify customers of past due balances and gives them a link to either send a one-time payment toward that balance or set up a payment plan, depending on their contract.

The idea behind ItsPayd is to help companies with collecting past due payments, but in a more friendly way that preserves the customer relationship and ultimately reduce attrition. “We can actually have the greatest impact on improving customer experience at the least likely moment, and that’s at the past due space,” Ken Green, company CEO, told Security Systems News.

“We’ve got one of our customers, who’s a [security] dealer—they’ve reduced attrition by 40 percent,” Green said. “We’ve recovered over 50 percent for them within the first 30 days.” The company benefited even more by maintaining the relationship and keeping these customers on, he said.

ItsPayd.com does about 90 percent of its work with security companies, mostly security dealers and monitoring centers.

Rapid dealers receive discounts on ItsPayd’s monthly subscription fee, through Rapid being a part of the Affiliate Partner Program. The Affiliate Partner Program specifically applies to third party monitoring centers and full-service companies with central stations.  ItsPayd is currently looking to get more members in the program, according to Green.

ItsPayd is currently working on an integration platform with MKS, to be completed around the end of the summer, Green said. 

ItsPayd was founded last year and went to beta with its product in August 205. The company went live with its offering in January 2016.

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