Alarm Monitoring Companies Find Success Amid Pandemic

By: Jon Polly | Oct 11, 2021

COVID, the bane of a virus that just won’t get the hint; the blatant hint that we the people are over it. The world is dealing with a silent enemy that strikes with no warning. While the entire world and industries throughout are trying to wade through this mire of uncertainty and fear, work must still go on.

The Alarm Monitoring Center is one of the security industry’s biggest resources and the resource most taken for granted. Integrators resell monitoring services, creating recurring monthly revenue (RMR), and end-users dutifully pay the monthly bill for monitoring; all with the expectation that when the alarm system is activated there will be a person on the other end to verify the alarm and call the police. During the pandemic, many alarm monitoring employees discovered they were essential workers because of the need to monitor countless alarm systems across the country.

The Shift

Like the rest of the world, alarm monitoring companies had to quickly shift to a new strategy, and many were able to successfully do so. According to Paul Rothman with Security Business Magazine, “just 16% of monitoring operations across 15 countries reported reduced revenue over the previous 12 months.” While the traditional alarm monitoring center had dispatchers seated together in large call-center applications, many alarm monitoring companies moved to a remote workforce. According to a Security Sales and Integration Round Table, Daniel Oppenhiem, CEO of Affiliated Monitoring noted that they were able to pivot to a 100% remote workforce with not only zero disruptions in service, but improved response times.

Other companies found the immediate need to purchase additional technology to keep their companies moving efficiently. Again, in the Security Sales and Integration Round Table, Morgan Hertel with Rapid Response Monitoring Service states that unlike Affiliated Monitoring, “Rapid Response Monitoring opted to keep all employees as essential employees and in the office.” They upgraded with UV HVAC filtration systems, UV room sterilizers, infrared temperature cameras, four-hour employee temperature checks, and changed how employees distanced at work.

Now more than ever, virtual meetings are a necessary tool to keep teams working together and communicating effectively. Cloud and secure virtual private network (VPN) connections are keeping employees connected to a large dispatch room while operating from their personal space.

Many monitoring companies have touted the need for redundant monitoring centers. Jim McMullen with COPS Monitoring spoke to Security Business Magazine acknowledging the need for redundant monitoring centers to handle a catastrophe. “What is more likely than a complete location failure is some local situation that increases alarm traffic and complicates a company’s ability to staff – both of which can significantly impact response times.” While the past 18 months have offered typical weather catastrophes such as hurricanes and wildfires, the world has experienced rioting and protests on a global stage. When alarms were going off due to broken windows, fire, looting, and more, redundant dispatch centers balanced the load of the calls to get emergency services where they were needed.

However, not every alarm monitoring company was able to suffer through this shift. In May 2021, Security Partners, LLC, a wholesale alarm monitoring company, had its accounts sold at auction.

The Future

Many alarm monitoring companies have seen an overall reduction in false alarms. This may be because many people are still working remotely, preventing them from arming their system or allowing them to acknowledge the alert before the police can be dispatched. Either way, many false alarms have been reduced by human intervention. Additionally, according to Aleksei Bulavko with Radius Security; false alarm filtering platforms are essential to any command center. Bulavko shares with Security Business Magazine that these filtering platforms “increase efficiency and do more with the same number of employees.”

Training appears to be one of the absolutes in the alarm monitoring industry. According to every respondent in the Security Sales and Integration Round Table, ongoing training is an absolute need. While many in the security industry have been reluctant to send employees to training during the pandemic, the alarm monitoring companies maintain they are continually training staff on new services and procedures.

The pandemic has forced many of the populous to realize they need an alarm system. Some have chosen the “self-monitored” or MIY application, but many have realized the need for a real-time monitored alarm system. Daniel Grajeda with Eyeforce Remote Guarding Solutions shares with Security Business Magazine that “In 2019, many customers did not realize they needed a higher level of protection. They learned the value and importance of it in 2020. We have an opportunity to continue the growth as people see the cost of replacing equipment, doors or windows is less than paying a video monitoring service that runs off criminals or gets them arrested while keeping a site safe.”

Some companies, like COPS Monitoring, have grown during the pandemic. In June 2021, it was reported by Security System News that COPS Monitoring purchased the 100,000+ subscriber accounts from Security Partners, LLC to increase the COPS Monitoring account base to more than 3.5 million accounts.

Conclusion

COVID has wreaked havoc upon the security industry. Although this has been felt by the alarm monitoring companies as well, many of them were able to not only sustain, but gain, additional revenue and improve upon company metrics. Change had to happen, and most of the alarm monitoring companies were able to roll with the proverbial punch to provide a disruption-free customer experience.

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