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Keep an eye out for remote monitoring

Hosted video and remote monitoring services are leading the way to new opportunities

May 31, 2010  By Steve Bocking

Right now, there is a buzz around the concept of hosted video and remote monitoring of CCTV cameras in our industry. Typically with hosted video, the IP cameras are installed at the client’s site but the recording and monitoring of the cameras are done at a third-party central monitoring location via the Internet. This is different from remote monitoring where cameras are being monitored remotely, but the recording of the cameras is done at the end user’s location. More now than ever before, both of these concepts are becoming realistic offerings for integrators. The availability of high-speed Internet services is everywhere and the cost has come down significantly in the last five years. Still, not that many companies are offering this kind of service.
A much more common service that is being offered by several major suppliers is video alarm verification. This involves only verifying an intrusion alarm, and differs greatly from remote monitoring where a service provider will pro-actively monitor CCTV cameras to potentially catch an intruder.
Since remote monitoring is a step above simply verifying an alarm after the fact, it could be taxing on an integrator’s resources. However, setting up motion detection alarms on the cameras can make it easier to spot incidents. If configured properly, motion detection can be very reliable on most video management software (VMS) in indoor environments. For outdoor environments, basic video analytics such as trip wire (ability to draw a virtual perimeter) can be very useful. Now embedded within cameras, video analytics have also become much more affordable. There is also the possibility of integrating the video system with dry contacts, intrusion or access control systems to receive video events at the central monitoring station. This is similar to video alarm verification, but the main difference is the instantaneous video verification instead of calling up the video after the intrusion alarm has already gone off. 
Regardless, both video verification of intrusion alarms and remote CCTV monitoring propose challenges. For instance, each end-user may have a different type of DVR or VMS already in place. Therefore, the central monitoring station may need several client software to view different end-user sites. This also leads to needing several client computers for a small subset of end-users. In my opinion, it is much easier to standardise on one video management software for all clients, if a central monitoring station wants to scale to a large amount of clients.
This means that an operator could monitor video events from thousands of end-users on one computer screen. And, having a VMS that can scale up to thousands of cameras as one unified system will certainly help. 
Although not the easiest of ventures, if done properly, hosted video and remote monitoring services propose new opportunities for integrators; opportunities that could certainly help boost recurring monthly revenue. And with not too many fish in the pond just yet, integrators might just feel now is the most advantageous time to start considering its possibilities.

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