This week I had the pleasure of a conference call with David Walsh (CEO) and Niall Kelly (CTO), the founders of an emerging visual monitoring company named Netwatch. Netwatch is based in Carlow, Ireland and provides visual alarm monitoring to over 35,000 customers across various vertical markets such as the public sector, logistics, manufacturing, automotive, construction, and retail. Approximately 2 percent of their customers are high-net worth individuals. Netwatch's founding is an interesting story and came about due to how ordinary people affected by crimes react. An acquaintance of David and Niall responded to an alarm alert and upon arrival on the scene, was attacked by the buglers. This led to the realization that there was a true need in the market to equip first responders and business owners with situational awareness to ongoing threatening situations.
Netwatch provides businesses with a monitored alarm system which is also tied to the surveillance system. It uses home-grown video analytics as the alarm engine that triggers alerts. These alerts are processed by specialists at Netwatch’s communication hub (monitoring station), who then escalate real alerts to law enforcement. In addition, the company generates incident reports which are sent to the appropriate channels for quicker forensic processing. Netwatch uses Cratos technology to identify and utilize the fastest communication of data from the client’s site to Netwatch’s communication hub across satellite, cellular, wireless, and wired mediums.
Typical alarm monitoring solutions send alerts to a central monitoring station, which is then transmitted to emergency dispatchers. This commonly leads to an 80-85 percent false alarm rate. The use of video is often optional and typical installations may have 1-2 cameras located at entrances. However, typical alarm monitoring solutions do not provide first responders with situational awareness and oftentimes, they “go in blind” to situations. The use of video surveillance is a critical component of the monitoring system, as embedded intelligence improves the solution and helps businesses and first responders to understand situations/incidents and take necessary precautions.
Another technological challenge is in the use of video analytics. Video analytics provide a fitting solution for controlled environments, however the software algorithms are usually found to be lacking in real-world situations due to the inability to control all factors. The use of video analytics in conjunction with a human monitor enables Netwatch to provide the best solution to customers without compromising on the quality and capabilities of their services.
In the United States (a new market for Netwatch), cities and municipalities are cracking down on monitoring companies for false alarms. Emergency response personnel are spread thin and responding to each and every call is a huge drain on resources. Many municipalities have started instituting fines for false alarms and this cuts into the bottom line for monitoring companies. The Netwatch solution has the potential to minimize the impact of false alarms and make monitoring solutions more cost-effective for customers and emergency responders.
Netwatch has a great story and the ability to provide value to its users. With its customizable solutions, end users can work with the company to institute the best solution that addresses their challenges with monitoring solutions, both reducing costs and increasing the efficiency of a technology solution.
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Dilip Sarangan, Senior Strategist and Consultant at Compass Intelligence, has extensive consulting expertise which includes market research, brand management, geographic expansion strategy, and market education and branding strategies. His areas of expertise include: Physical & Logical Security, Homeland Security, Building Technologies, and Machine-to-Machine communications. You can you reach him at email@example.com.