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The Value of Professional Monitoring

Professional monitoring enhances the power of security systems. Learn how Security Dealers can push the value of 24/7 staff for real-time monitoring to grow their subscriber base.

Security systems with professional monitoring are considered the standard for safety, theft prevention, and threat detection for homes and businesses. They have a strong and straightforward value proposition, as consumers and companies alike worry over the safety and security of their homes, businesses, loved ones, employees, assets and personal property.

In the commercial space, fire alarms and monitoring systems are required in most public buildings to ensure the safety of occupants. Residentially, the adoption of home security systems is significantly on the rise for the first time since 2014; even more promising is the considerable rise in professional monitoring alongside it.

The professional monitoring industry experienced a 5% adoption increase from 2018 to 2019, a rate that previously stayed relatively steady. Adoption in the first half of 2020 has largely preserved those gains, a tremendous win in light of larger economic and health issues.

Percentage of professional monitoring service subscriptions year over year in US broadband households 2014-2020

Companies and consumers have an array of worries — beyond the protection of their assets — that can benefit from professional security monitoring services, including; energy consumption, risks from flood and fire, health of aging relatives, safety of package deliveries, and even the condition of the company’s fleet. In many instances, smart home solutions have moved into these areas, enabling users to monitor conditions on their own.

As more aspects of daily life get connected, they are creating new opportunities for professional monitoring services, which can expand beyond security to deliver a variety of new benefits to today’s connected consumers. 

The Monitoring and Security Landscape

Modern advances in security and safety devices offer consumers and companies an array of solutions designed to transform worry into peace of mind. Professional monitoring services offer a dedicated, 24/7 staff for monitoring and serve both residential and commercial properties. According to the Parks Associates’ annual Security Dealer Survey, Dealers report a roughly 70/30 split in unit sales of residential security systems vs. commercial security systems, with over 90% offering both professionally installed and monitored systems.

Monitoring centers provide the professional monitoring behind these services. They keep watch for real-time emergencies and risks using humans who operate computer stations, automation software, and redundancy technology. Real-time monitoring allows for a quick emergency response.

Types and percentage amounts of residential security systems sold among US Security Dealers in 2020

The Benefits of Professional Monitoring

Several types of monitoring are available, with varying levels of appeal:

  • Non-monitoring means users do not observe, keep track of, or check the alerts they may receive from their device when motion is triggered. For example, a networked camera may be purchased as a deterrent for intruders but is not being actively monitored for such instances by the user.
  • MIY (Monitor-it-yourself) enables users to remotely monitor and receive alerts. Users will actively open alerts once received, when possible. Monitoring is top-of-mind and intentional for the users. If an incident occurs, the users will alert authorities by calling 911.
  • MIY with direct emergency dispatch allows users to call 911 and dispatch emergency services once a security alert is received and identified as critical. This is done through a dedicated panic button in an app, tablet, or computer. Users are required to actively monitor their device at all times.
  • Professional monitoring provides users 24/7 real-time monitoring through dedicated staff, from a certified Monitoring Center with facility redundancies and fail-safes, where they receive alerts when an alarm is triggered, verify the alert with the user, and request emergency response if necessary.

The spectrum of household monitoring service from low level monitoring to a professional monitoring service

The value of professional security monitoring is in the dedicated and trained staff that will always be available if an emergency occurs.

“A consumer that is aware of events happening in the home is not necessarily a secure and protected consumer” is a thematic statement from professional monitoring service providers. A networked camera, for instance, will notify consumers via their smartphone about events in the home when it detects motion, but only when the notification is opened and identified will a consumer be able to act on the related event. Users cannot initiate a call for help if they are sleeping or too busy to review an alert or if their phone is dead or unavailable.

MIY resonates with a segment of the market who are unwilling to adopt professional security monitoring but want some form of security, but that does not make these consumers unattainable.

The limitations in MIY can provide a path toward professional monitoring.

Professional Monitoring Specialists can leverage their strengths in being always available to communicate with the user to demonstrate the value they add beyond MIY solutions. They can also diversify their communication methods, incorporating new technologies such as bi-directional text messages, secure chats, app-free interfaces, and push notifications to provide speed and convenience and to demonstrate the flexibility of their services.

The Challenges of Professional Monitoring

Traditionally, only a fragment of the market is willing to pay a monthly fee for the monitoring services, but this user segment is growing.

More options for lower cost and contract-free monitoring service subscriptions have opened the door for first-time subscribers. These lower costs will also help consumers keep their services. Among consumers who canceled their professional security monitoring service, only 33% did so because the monthly fee was too expensive.

False alarms are another problematic issue as consumers consider whether to adopt and then to keep professional security monitoring — 32% of Dealers surveyed in Parks Associates’ 2019 Security Dealer Survey report false alarm fees and penalties are one of the industry’s biggest challenges.  

  • Industry wide, false-alarm rates of 90 to 99 percent are common.
  • Improper disarming/entry and improper arming/exit, service or installation errors, and equipment failure are the main causes of false alarms.
  • Every year, Chicago police respond to more than 300,000 burglar alarms overall, 98% of them false, which translates to 195 full-time officers that do nothing except respond to false alarms over the course of a year.

Solving False Alarms

The impact and consequences of false alarms are significant, creating the need, and thus an opportunity, for a solution within the security industry.  

Innovative professional monitoring centers have added more consumer-facing technologies such as video verification and panic buttons to request an emergency response or cancel a false alarm from an app.

a woman who is checking a rapidSMS notification from her professional monitoring service

At Rapid Response, we offer both of these services. rapidSMS is an app-free security alarm management platform providing customers with real-time notification and control of events. This platform is proven to prevent up to 40% of false alarms and dispatches. It notifies customers instantly of an alarm via text message with important information needed to make critical decisions in real-time.

We also offer video alarm verification through several solution providers. The advantages of video monitoring are so strong that 911 dispatchers have started to queue video-verified alarms with higher priority.

Monitoring centers also have installed automated systems (ASAP) that integrate with the public service answering point (PSAP). Electronic notifications eliminate delays and errors associated with communicating with a Specialist by phone. First responders have more accurate data as a result; electronic address data eliminates translation errors when communicating the address information from the monitoring center through the 911 operator to the dispatcher.

United States map displaying rapid response monitoring and automated secure alarm protocol over it

While automation is meant to simplify and improve efficiencies, it may not be the best solution for every problem until it reaches the level of sophistication and reliability that is required of professional monitoring for critical situations overall — whether it be security, health, connected car, or related to fall-detection.

There is immense value in a professional, human operator who can resolve unique emergencies. These human operators also serve as a filtering agent for alarms that come into the security monitoring center. While false alarms are a recognized problem in the industry, human operators help to mitigate the issue by evaluating situations and helping to reduce unnecessary emergency response calls to local police, ambulance or fire department.

Most professional monitoring centers filter between 80 to 90 percent of all alarm events and only deliver the rest as calls for service.  

Professional monitoring delivers a strong value proposition to consumers and businesses that exceed the standard benefits of IoT solutions — regardless of a power outage, offline network connection, or inability to respond to a sensor-based alert, someone is available to swiftly respond to an emergency.

It is clear the professional monitoring market is expanding and these services are creating additional value in providing safety and security.

To widen the appeal and grow the subscriber base for professional monitoring services, providers must continue to message the value of 24/7 real-time live support, improvements in curbing false alarms, the importance of a filtering agent, and the benefits beyond the universally understood safety use cases that can encompass protection from fire, flood, health monitoring, energy usage, and even safety when traveling. In today’s connected world, monitoring services can expand their scope to cover multiple aspects of the connected lifestyle and provide peace of mind across many use cases.

ATTRIBUTION — Excerpt from ©Parks Associates whitepaper published in cooperation with Rapid Response.

rapid response monitoring center specialist assisting a customer on a call


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