Kastle Systems Initially Acquired Its Video Monitoring Expertise
Like much of what it has done in its history — including pioneering managed access control in the 1970s — when it came to offering video solutions SDM’s 2015 Systems Integrator of the Year Kastle Systems, Falls Church, Va., chose to find a way to do it in-house, in this case by acquisition. Accordingly in 2013, Kastle Systems purchased Check-Video, a hosted-video-platform company. The company offered video-verified alarms. Then, in 2017, it purchased Urban Alarm, which provides real-time remote guard services through video.
“Video monitoring is a broad term that can be interpreted and applied many different ways,” says Dave Fisher, Kastle’s vice president and general manager, remote video monitoring. “We do a fair amount of video guarding [as well as] verified video.”
Fisher says the video guarding is particularly attractive to certain customers. “Typically a guard will cost somewhere between $5,000 to $8,000 per month for after-hours and weekends. Video guarding is a small fraction of that.”
The video portion of Kastle’s offerings is growing very well, Fisher says. “The value proposition is compelling….Video in general is becoming a bigger part of Kastle as a percentage and video guarding is a rapidly growing component of that. We have essentially nearly doubled the size of our staff around that.”
Yet Fisher cautions that video services, whether something as intensive as video guarding or more “routine” video verification, are not something that should be done lightly. Kastle uses a different set of employees to accomplish its video monitoring than for other types of monitoring, he explains. “Typically monitoring operators are very binary: the signal comes in, they look at the event and they follow instructions to make appropriate notifications and dispatches. Video requires a special skillset. You are asking an operator to interpret a scene and sometimes make judgement calls. We found not only is there a heavy technology lift, but from the operations center perspective we went the route that you need a whole video monitoring group with different skillsets.”
He advises anyone looking to get into video monitoring to calculate the cost of doing so. “Make sure you have a good handle on what it is going to take internally and externally to be able to actually deliver this service and do it well. There is demand for it and the value prop can be very strong; but it is not a casual undertaking.”
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