FOR Australian alarm installers and monitoring stations there’s been a long hot summer of rebates linked to the PSTN network that over the next couple of years is going to come increasingly unstitched. This next period is one that will challenge the ingenuity and business capabilities of many companies.
Last issue I talked about AT&T’s security and home automation play, a business model that entirely excludes third party installers and monitoring stations and gives home owners a level of automation and integration our industry does not afford them.
It’s impossible to imagine that the United States is the only place on the planet this sorts of bundled telco services are going to be implemented. There’s no doubt in my mind that such services will find their way to Australia – furthermore, that such services are already being planned by vigorous IP-based service providers.
YOU don’t have to look too far around the electronic security industry to see that things are in a state of flux, with almost no technology layer untouched by IP solutions and increasingly pervasive networked interfaces.
Yet somehow basic alarm products have escaped the paradigm shift in the market. Sure – alarm systems now have onboard or after market SIM support allowing secure IP monitoring using GPRS but the underlying alarm technology has not altered one iota and that’s not a good thing.
I love the idea of remotely addressable alarm sensors residing on secure networks that operate as edge devices, sensing intrusion, taking snapshots of events, monitoring environmental parameters and self-reporting alarm events. The technology to build know-all sensors certainly exists but the nature of the global domestic alarms market is so drear in terms of creativity, that we still see nothing but one-dimensional technologies.
THERE’S no doubt whatever that technology is now capable of delivering video verification and alarm monitoring in real time over existing networks. Thanks to H.264 and the advent of low cost, high resolution cameras equipped with IR capability, getting usable images down the line is a straightforward process.
To me there’s more capability in remote video monitoring than we are currently seeing, especially given the technology offers monitoring stations the ability to deliver a drop-in service, where operators will call up a customer camera if an alert button is pressed and keep an eye on a situation – perhaps in a late night retail store. Another neat application is delivery of video for monitoring of an opening/closing or arming/disarming event.
WE’VE been talking about the divergent paths that are looming for the monitoring industry for a while now and a recent spate of alliances, new applications and technology releases suggests many of the opinions we espoused were on the mark. And it’s about time, too.
I think it’s fair to say that monitoring has been in the doldrums for many years. The dollar-a-day business model combined with one-way dialler technology and telco rebates has been a real killer of innovation for our monitoring industry. Rather than value adding for end users, dialler alarms are set-and-forget recurring revenue devices.
WE’VE been talking up video monitoring for a few years now – in more recent times this has been motivated by NSW Police’s decision to attend alarms where intrusion is confirmed by video verification. It’s compelling news to find that the sort of the video verification solutions we’d like to see more of are proving themselves in the field.
According to Richard Day from building products supplier James Burrell (which manages the Ossett site) builders’ merchants carry an extensive and valuable range of products stored on large premises that are open to everyone.
“Traditionally, builders’ merchants have been a prime target for thieves because of the sheer volume of materials on site. However, as a result of more up-to-date systems and stock management procedures, the criminals have now focused their efforts away from daylight hours to the hours of darkness and weekends when merchants are closed for business.”
NOT surprisingly, the electronic security industry’s central powers – ASIAL and the Australian Standards Alarms Sub Committee – face an uphill battle over the next few years. While the NBN Co is now a little more forthcoming on issues relating to getting alarm systems onto its broadband network, the processes required to achieve this remain nebulous.
It’s tempting to go so far as to suggest the expertise necessary to handle the issues the alarm monitoring industry faces is so thin on the ground that outsiders are needed to resolve them. Reports circulating after recent meetings to discuss challenges suggest confusion reigns with little understanding and less agreement.
WHEN we talk about wireless monitoring solutions in Australia it’s almost exclusively GSM/GPRS we are talking about, which is generally deployed as a secure comms path with a high poll rate for a fixed cost. But given all that’s required by a wireless reporting unit is power, it’s easy to see that there are plenty of opportunities for growing the recurring revenue in areas like monitoring of cars, boats, caravans, industrial equipment, electronic devices and other high cost goods.
Vehicle tracking and recovery remains the major application area for wireless M2M communication in the security industry, using devices that combine GPS and GSM/GPRS technologies. The main markets in terms of units and value include tracking of sports cars, luxury passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
FLOODS make short work of communications channels, pouring into pits, short circuiting connections and inundating buried conduits. They don’t stop there. Floods break down electrical infrastructure and isolate businesses completely. For most monitoring stations these are conditions their graded central stations are designed to handle but seldom face. Beginning in late December towns and suburbs along the Fitzroy, Burnett, Condamine, Ballone and Mary Rivers were subject to flooding and before it was over three quarters of the state of Queensland was declared a disaster zone. Making matters worse, a flash flood smashed through Toowoomba’s business district and swamped the Lockyer Valley. Downstream, thousands of houses in Ipswich and further east in Brisbane went under as the Brisbane River broke its banks. For many homes and businesses, power and communications were lost causing alarm systems to fail.
THE move also underscores the reality that, along with access control and video surveillance installers, electronic security techs will need to operate in networked environments – or talk their end users into wireless-based monitoring solutions. Australian Security Industry Association chief executive officer Bryan de Caires told iTnews recently that the progression to a telecommunications network based on Ethernet optical-fibre compromise alarms that relied on copper networks to provide their power and signals. This would risk Australians homes and businesses.ASIAL had reason to be concerned on behalf of its members and their customers. A meeting last year with NBN Co saw the organisation referring all enquiries about systems integration and testing to the Australian Communications Alliance, which was formed to provide a unified voice for the Australian communications industry.
IT’S obvious that
there are ramifications for the local market in the growing pressure being
placed on the U.S. Government to close the POTS/PSTN network. It makes sense
that duplicating infrastructure by operating a switched PSTN network while at
the same time operating an adjacent IP network is a waste of money –
particularly given the limitations of PSTN.
But for local companies,
the thinking is that any closure of PSTN in Australia is a long term issue.
According to Videofied’s national manager, Brad White, in Australia it will be
less sudden and more gradual ‘sunset’ than in the US. Videofied, which
specialised in video verification, has a business that is 100 per cent
“The reason for
the gradual sunset will be the nature of Australia’s telecommunications network
and infrastructure has been managed and maintained by a national operator,
unlike in the US,” White explains.