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Monitoring Centre View

by msecadm4921

Technology, insurers and security industry standards are all pointing in the same direction – towards a convergence that makes security a management tool. Controlled from a single screen. So says monitoring centre Farsight.

Broadband and remote surveillance were made for each other. High-capacity, always-on communications create an environment within which disparate elements of security monitoring can come together. The result is a single security management tool known as e-surveillance. Ed Essad of Peterborough-based Farsight, says it puts an end to the ‘slidy-chair syndrome’ – operators who scoot along banks of screens.

He says: “E-surveillance has allowed us to reorganise our monitoring station along the lines of a call centre. A network server answers alarms immediately, then routes them to our agents in the most efficient manner. It happens instantly – and no one need ever leave their desk. Our effectiveness as an operation has shot up. We know that because e-surveillance constantly measures our service levels. But you don’t have to be as big as us to bring in call-centre efficiencies and cost savings. Any company or monitoring station that puts this technology in place can monitor its entire property portfolio – retail units, building sites, utility sites – from a single screen."

The power of e-surveillance

The technology behind the single-screen revolution in security monitoring was developed by Farsight’s IT subsidiary, e-surveillance. This software covers remote security devices, platforms, and building management systems. Craig Evans of e-surveillance says: “E-surveillance lets an organisation take control of security. It moves security up the corporate ladder – from management issue to management tool. There are two key aspects to e-surveillance: the day-to-day management of incidents, and the availability of crucial management information. E-surveillance is entirely transparent: every incident and every action can be reviewed online and instantly. This is data that managers have never seen before; it’s what they need to measure supplier performance and stay in control of the operation."

Costs drop

One user is facilities management company Johnson Workplace Management that includes Fujitsu among its clients. Johnson’s Bob Eachus reports a 30pc drop in security costs across his 64 Fujitsu sites – savings passed to his customer. He says: “The advantages of e-surveillance are obvious. We now have an integrated solution that puts us in control of access and egress, especially at critical times and locations. It’s also improved our knowledge of the buildings we manage – data that extends beyond security issues." That data can often reveal unexpected patterns. Analysis of after-hours forecourt activity told the Perrys chain of car dealerships that it was losing sales by closing too early.

Market driven

It’s not just technology that’s driving e-surveillance. Standards such as BS8418 and heavier traffic put demands on monitoring stations beyond the scope of their lightweight PC-based software. Insurers increasingly ask for standards compliance. Les Ramsden of Farsight says: "Out of all the monitoring software on the market, only e-surveillance is compliant with BS8418. For instance, there’s no other application that’s capable of measuring response times, let alone guaranteeing that they meet the specified minimum."

Seeing is believing

Les clearly enjoys demonstrating the power and sophistication of e-surveillance. From a brightly lit demonstration room in Peterborough, he manipulates a range of remote CCTV cameras. He shifts control between sites and views, reruns recordings of previous incidents, then reviews the history to see if a pattern emerges.

"This is a true black-screen environment," he says. "The software may be event-driven, but we are not. We’re in control of events, prioritising and managing according to criteria determined by us and our clients."

He continues: "I get such a buzz out of showing what e-surveillance can do. Even security industry professionals can’t believe that so much is now possible. Everyone who cares about site security should come here for a glimpse of the future."

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