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Pandemic sparks demand for remote monitoring options

With commercial properties now close to vacant as employees work from home, monitoring providers indicate clients are looking for camera-based solutions that can be deployed quickly


June 18, 2020
By Alanna Fairey
Alanna Fairey

Topics
Image: Kameleon00/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have been required to shut down, leaving unattended properties susceptible to break-ins and vandalism. When employees were mandated to work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a number of security companies indicate they have noticed an exponential increase for remote monitoring across a plethora of different sectors.

“We’ve seen an increased demand and a common trend in the construction sector for new video monitoring installations,” says Stephanos Georgoudes, products and manufacturer relations at Surveillance Lanvac Monitoring. “There is more of a demand for video surveillance for those sectors.”

Georgoudes shared that other sectors that have seen a demand in remote monitoring include insurance companies and automotive garages in areas across Quebec, Ontario and B.C. “Overall, the commercial sector shows the biggest increase and interest in video monitoring, primarily construction and special trades,” Georgoudes says.

Robert Plume, vice-president of secure integration at G4S Secure Solutions, agreed that there has been a huge uptick in remote monitoring, with customers asking for extra surveillance during the day.

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Plume shares that G4S spoke to customers during COVID-19, and operators helped to assess which solution would work best for their current situation.

“I think what we’re finding through this in particular is creating different conversations,” Plume says. “Each client and each site is really unique and quite often we recommend a blended or integrated solution to meet their full requirements.”

Luciano Cedrone, senior account executive with Logixx Security, shares that remote video monitoring for private properties is a good option during these unprecedented times.

“To be able to feed those cameras back to an isolated control centre like some of those some of the vendors have, or some of the buildings have in their basement — that’s a great plus. You don’t have to send somebody up there,” Cedrone explains.

While this technology may be a benefit, Cedrone stresses that security guards should not be entirely replaced by remote video monitoring options.

“If a company is reducing their guard complement in order to deploy more cameras and then that sacrifices their ability to manage the security program, that’s a problem,” Cedrone says. “You’ve got to balance the mission statement of your security program and how that camera system is going to complement that…If you’re in Barbados and an alarm comes through and there’s nobody that can actually go and take care of the door that’s open, then it eliminates the point of having that camera.”

Accommodating a need

Recognizing the increased demand for remote monitoring solutions, security companies have adjusted their business solutions accordingly.

Georgoudes shares that shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, Lanvac’s dealers went to their alarm customers to offer them a forensic video tool that he says could easily work in conjunction with the alarm system.

“Traditionally, you have an on-site guard, whereas now with event-based monitoring and the use of advanced camera analytics, you can pin point the intruder,” Georgoudes explains. “It’s not necessarily extra surveillance, but rather smarter surveillance.”

To accommodate the increased need for remote monitoring with smarter surveillance, Lanvac has partnered with IPX360 to help Canadian security companies provide remote CCTV maintenance checks by using CheckMyCCTV, a 24/7 automated remote checking system.

“Dealers can receive daily health checks from all their CCTV systems that include connection issues, camera failures, image integrity, recording issues and time/date accuracy,” Georgoudes says.

Additionally, Lanvac added more shifts to accommodate the increased demand for remote video monitoring options.

“We’ve had to remotely train some current operators to help out with the increase of video monitoring traffic,” Georgoudes says. “We are also currently finalizing remote training strategies for all types of operator tasks to be ready for the future.”

Despite seeing an increased demand for remote monitoring, Plume says that G4S has not added more monitoring shifts, explaining that the company has been able to manage the demand.

“Our solution is scalable because it’s based on analytics,” Plume explains. “It’s really incumbent on our technicians and the client to kind of streamline where we deploy and what analytics we use to really create the best solution for them and to ensure that we can better secure their property.”

With strict work from home orders set in place due to COVID-19, setting up monitoring operators to work from home has been essential.Like many other security businesses in Canada, Lanvac has taken a number of measures to reduce the risk of contamination during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We provided secured computers and phones that VPN and VoIP to our central stations across Canada,” says Georgoudes.

“Any operator from anywhere in Canada assists with all alarm traffic, and this allows for a perfect load-balancing system where staff from one part of the country can jump in and help with increased volume in another part of the county.”

While Lanvac operators are working from home, Plume shares that G4S has taken a couple of different routes. In the case of their monitoring centres, G4S sent home all non-essential employees.

However, Plume shares that G4S is aware that not all employees — ranging from schedulers to operators — can work from home and the company has taken precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their employees.

“We’re able to keep all of our operators that come in over six feet apart and we’ve done a great job of isolating people within our environment, even though they’re coming to our environment,” Plume says.

Looking ahead

While the future of remote video monitoring beyond COVID-19 is yet to be determined, understanding the current demand is a top priority. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Plume shares that remote video monitoring has helped G4S to open up to a variety of new business opportunities.

“We have technicians that are working 24/7,” Plume says. “We’ve ensured that the entirety of the solution from the way it’s designed to the way it’s monitored can be fired up quickly on client demand.”

While the demand may continue to increase, Cedrone reiterates that there will still be a need for security personnel, as it is an extra step to ensure that properties are protected from trespassers.

“Don’t get distracted by the fact you’ve got a fancy camera and think that the camera being setup is going to cover all your liabilities and take care of your security issues,” Cedrone advises.

“You need to have the background support to the camera, which is policies and procedures that manage how the camera’s going to be used.”