Monitoring trends will follow the growing expectations of customers. They will also be a derivative of the "technology race" of competing companies and the sharp increase in physical protection prices.
Alarm monitoring and remote video surveillance will become key security services. Increasing personnel costs will force the search for modern cloud solutions such as the system Safestar.
Factors shaping monitoring trends
In our opinion, the most important factors that will shape alarm monitoring and video surveillance in the coming years are:
- looking for new forms of protection that can be offered as an equivalent of physical protection
- cheap and easily available technology, which is used skillfully will bring more and more benefits
- better and better digital video connections, which will make remote video surveillance services more efficient
- gradual change in the structure of clients - business clients who will set specific tasks for protection will start to play a dominant role
- Difficulties in finding professionals - a security technician is fast moving towards IT and for this more qualifications are needed than before. Additionally, if anyone knows about IT to migrate from security companies to IT companies in search of better earnings.
The development of monitoring and remote video surveillance will simply be reduced to the more effective use of technology in security. I am thinking of using technology in such a way that it can realistically support or replace redundant security personnel. This will be possible thanks to the introduction of greater centralization of supervision and security management. The key role in this will be played by the possibility of cheaper and faster transmission of more data.
An extremely important factor in the development of technology in the security industry will be the increasingly popular cloud solutions. The security industry in Poland is mostly small and medium-sized enterprises (about 70%). For them, the only right way of development is modern and cheap cloud solutions - both in form SaaS as well as IaaS. Nobody should be surprised by this, because it is a global trend. This should be particularly noted, as many companies make a strategic mistake when deciding to introduce outdated solutions today. Of course, the ability to assess what is currently the right and future-oriented solution is problematic but at the same time crucial. Those who choose well will win. An example of such a solution is the system Safestar.
I anticipate that in the coming time the emergency monitoring will follow in the following directions:
- Development of Remote Video Surveillance - that is, the use of video transmission from protected facilities to verify events and preventive actions
- The use of VoIP / SIP technology - for voice communication with the monitored object
- Replacement of old solutions (VHF, switched lines) with new solutions, mainly IP
- Integration of monitoring systems with enterprise management systems
- In-depth integration of security systems with other systems at the client's facilities
- Application of automatic data analysis, including video analytics
- The use of thermovision and radar technology in external protection
- Application of mobile applications e.g. SafestarGO and access via www - for both clients and employees of security companies.
Contemporary alarm monitoring and remote video surveillance will in most cases be a response to these trends. The consequence of its development will be the need to optimize the costs of services provided by Monitoring Centers. In particular, this will concern the optimization of personnel costs related to signal handling and the costs of maintaining an increasingly advanced infrastructure. The following solutions should be expected in this area:
- Automation and improvement of the signal handling process
- Automatic transmission of information on alarms using mobile and integration solutions
- The use of solutions that will optimally use telecommunications connections
- Increased reliability and security of monitoring centers
- Introducing intelligent algorithms to verify false alarms
- Allowing the customer to make minor configuration changes to the service
- The use of cloud solutions to optimize infrastructure costs
Will development go one mainstream?
In my opinion, there will be two currents. Although they will go in the same direction, they will differ in width and speed.
Broad but slower
Security companies with relatively large monitoring centers - over 50,000 monitored objects - will follow this wider stream. There are three such companies in Poland and these companies can potentially afford maintaining standards and technological development. They will implement large, ambitious contracts, often nationwide. They create their own private clouds for monitoring services. Their development will also be driven by the growing expectations of business customers who set great expectations for protection.
A significant problem of large alarm monitoring centers is the limited ability to modernize and follow new trends in monitoring technologies. With large scale of monitored objects, it is extremely difficult to implement new solutions. This can result in some areas being handed over to smaller companies. They can adapt better and faster technologically, e.g. using ready-made cloud solutions, such as the aforementioned Safestar.
Narrower but faster
Smaller, but certainly faster, smaller companies will follow. In Poland, this means that they are companies with approximately 10,000 and less monitored facilities. Local monitoring centers are starting to strengthen. Thanks to the possibility of direct and good contact with clients, they are gradually recovering areas that large nationwide security companies have tried to capture. Real gems appear among these companies.
New security companies are also emerging that specialize in remote video surveillance. They develop very quickly, offering modern and well-calculated security services. It is possible, among other things, thanks to technologies available in the cloud - then the start of business does not require large expenditures on equipment. Of course, this is a new philosophy of action, a new approach to business. These companies will be more and more effectively "gnawing" local "monitoring tunes", forgetting about technological progress. It is not surprising when technology and a new, fresh approach will win in this race.
Market consolidation and monitoring trends?
Will monitoring in Poland depend on market consolidation? Certainly yes. However, it should be remembered that the consolidation of monitoring is much more difficult and is governed by slightly different laws than other security services. First of all, there are technical problems alongside standard business problems. Their solution is crucial and possible, but often unprofitable or lack of knowledge on how to solve them. Therefore, a common occurrence in the case of consolidation of security companies is that the existing local monitoring centers are not being liquidated - this is mainly due to technological barriers, lack of appropriate IT tools and know-how. In such cases, the optimal "scale effect" desired in consolidation is not achieved. An issue not to be overlooked in this case is the future of security company intervention patrols. I will write two words about this later.
The role of telecommunications companies and "self monitoring"
Telecommunications operators are increasingly entering the areas of monitoring. They have data networks and millions of customers. This is enough to offer an additional service. The more that the operators themselves earn less and are looking for the opportunity to offer additional services.
Currently, the direct participation of telecommunications companies on the monitoring market is not yet clearly visible. Operators, for now, provide solutions to security companies and not to end customers. However, the role of telecommunications operators in the direct provision of monitoring services will grow rapidly. GSM operators have actually sold at least one SIM card to talk to every Pole. Now they are selling so-called m2m (machine to machine) cards, for which the market is many times larger than for conversations.
In our opinion, GSM operators in the area of monitoring will focus on video transmission services, "self monitoring". First of all, the so-called smart home and video transmission for customers' own use.
Will the police replace security company patrols?
This is a quite controversial question that will certainly electrify a large number of readers. Personally, I would not rule out this possibility and it may happen faster than we all think - of course not in 100%. Why? Here are the circumstances that favor this scenario:
- the average number of false alarms that are received and handled in monitoring centers is around 95%. This means that 95 out of 100 intervention group trips are unnecessary. These are gigantic costs for security companies that are incurred unreasonably and customers will not simply want to pay for it - sooner or later. The more that these services are becoming more expensive.
- if false alarms are partially eliminated (which is what is being achieved thanks to the use of better technology), then de facto intervention patrols of security companies will have nothing to do - so it will not make sense to bear the costs of more intervention patrols. So the circle closes.
The above may cause that for individual customers, the provision of intervention patrol services will become unprofitable. If we are sure that the alarm is real and we can verify it, the report will be potentially handled by the Police to report the customer himself. At this point, it will also play increasingly larger "self monitoring".
I know that the test is quite a controversial thesis, but let's take a look at the window - in fact, we are already seeing a reduction in the number of intervention patrols, attempts to connect, ordering ramps, etc.
However, there is an area for intervention patrols that certainly cannot be replaced by the Police. These are specialized services for business and the public sector as well as larger individual clients, the so-called VIPs. Increasingly, intervention patrols in conjunction with Remote Video Surveillance services will be increasingly used as the equivalent of stationary security guards.
It is worth mentioning that there are concepts related to the creation of a nationwide state security agency that would service companies and state institutions as well as military facilities. It is potentially possible that such a company will not create intervention patrol networks, but will support itself with public service interventions. This phenomenon would drastically reduce intervention patrols of security companies. Of course, such a process would take longer than the 2020 perspective if it were to take place.
What problems will occur?
Based on my own observations, it seems to me that the main problem that will significantly complicate the security business, including alarm monitoring and remote video surveillance, will be the shortage of appropriate, qualified employees. Employees who will be able to notice, develop and then implement and start earning on these new trends. Both in the technical and organizational area. For companies that currently do not have well-functioning technical departments, it will be extremely difficult to build it from scratch.
Certainly, for many the problem will be the lack of awareness of the changes that we are currently observing. First in the technological area and second in the business area. Many companies think that they have modern technology, although they are very outdated and inefficient solutions. They often close themselves to new solutions. A cold shower is coming for these companies ...
The use of new technologies, such as modern alarm monitoring and remote video surveillance requires, in addition to appropriate know-how, which cannot simply be bought. What is needed is experience, which gains with time and the number of monitored objects. Companies that are trying boldly to approach business may initially encounter the negative effects of inefficient use of modern technology - e.g. video analytics, the transmission of large amounts of data, etc. - but still, it is worth investing in it.
An important problem that we are already observing is the change in the awareness of those ordering services. I skip the rate issues. The main thing is that awareness of new solutions used in security is still low among customers. Mainly in the area of public procurement, but also individual clients and small business. We will observe more and more often that the Terms of Reference reproduced for years will not fit the current reality. It will be difficult to change, but it will be an inevitable process.
Very interesting times await us in the protection of people and property. Companies resign from doing business in this area, and new ones appear in this place that use new technology and a fresh, contemporary approach to this business. Big players are looking for and investing in new technologies. Cloud solutions are available for smaller companies that are increasingly boldly using. An example is the already mentioned Safestar. Technological development in this industry has never been so dynamic and available solutions so available and effective. That is why it is so important to observe monitoring trends that appear.
It is also worth referring to the consolidation of the security industry which is talked about so much. This is a multifaceted issue that we also deal with in all other industries. I would not demonize this phenomenon. You have to learn to make business decisions coldly and forget about the "ethos of protection".
The company that creates strong technological and organizational foundations builds its value for years. Therefore, regardless of everything, it is always worth investing in new solutions and know-how, thus increasing the value of your company. Monitoring is a very good area here. Many companies are still "standing on the platform" watching the departing train. In the next 2-3 years they will still have a chance to board. Then there may be a problem catching up with the leaders - both nationwide and local.
The last element of this puzzle is human. Increasing earnings is a good phenomenon - in every respect. However, one consequence is the rising price of physical protection that fewer and fewer customers will be able to afford. In this place technology will appear. So, from which side will we not approach the subject, technology comes to us ...