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10.9.19 – SSI –  

An update to UL 827A allows monitoring centers to offer central station hosting services, which can bring increased efficiencies and increased redundancy.

As a consultant and advisor to an extensive base of security professionals and companies, my clients are serious in leveraging my decades of experience in the monitoring center sector.

As the size and sophistication of my clients continue to increase, so does the need to address challenges and options. Add to this the new entrants in the security industry that bring great technical expertise, logical questions related to what the security industry didn’t support in the past and should support now, have become relevant.

An example I offer is a question I have faced more and more over the past few years from both new players in the industry and existing ones: “Can I virtualize all my monitoring center technology into Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Azure, etc.?”

Well, we all know that from a technical perspective this is not an issue and in fact, this is business as usual for many industries that wish to move technology, as well as servers and telecom to a hosted Cloud service provider.

Because Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Azure, etc. are not UL-Listed monitoring centers, a company cannot host all its technology with them and maintain its UL Listing. Despite this, UL opened up the standards to offer a viable option several years ago.

The opportunity presented with the extension of UL 827A has allowed for great options for small, medium and large monitoring centers. UL 827A allows monitoring centers to offer central station hosting services.

UL is supporting the industry by providing additional ways to equip central stations and offering up-to-date options regarding the use of software- or hardware-based machines.

This also provides companies with options as to the location of their machines. Monitoring centers can choose to employ a central station host service to include hosting automation systems, and even receivers in a remote location. The staff at the host site serve as the backend IT specialists.

An essential benefit is that a hosting service can relieve some of the burden from the central station, eliminating the need for staff IT experts or incurred costs of routine equipment upgrades.

Most monitoring centers that are already invested in automation and technology and offer seamless remote operations have the unique opportunity to present a structure that will offer other organizations the control they need, increase in management competency and decrease in ongoing management and infrastructure, while maintaining a more manageable overall cost structure.

The centers that are, and will be, offering these hosted services opens up tremendous opportunities for centers that are smaller, proprietary in nature, or really any size call center that is mindful to know that moving their servers, receivers and telecom to a hosted provider will free up resources, reduce capital expenditures and allow for focus on what they do best.

Essentially this structure now allowed by UL is a hybrid ASP-type (application service provider) model. The call centers would connect to the hosted monitoring center through direct, private network connections as MPLS. The connection would serve as an umbilical cord into a sophisticated, technologically advanced infrastructure.

This includes receivers, automation, telecommunications and all the management and support that come along with this. This structure will relieve these organizations of the necessity to add or upgrade technology or maintain the management that it takes to keep it running. What really presents this as a great value proposition is how you can take on or share in the signal processing.

With all servers, receivers and even telecom as an option hosted in the UL 827A center, the remote monitoring center has options. These options include staying staffed 24/7 for all processing and data entry, to daytime monitoring or anything in-between.

The client would be operating on the best of technology, managed by an experienced team and would not have the burden of staffing problems, outage challenges or the general need to have the required competencies from a technical and operational standpoint to operate a 24/7 central station the way it should be operated.

Companies of every size continue to research opportunities for increased efficiencies. Many simply choose to outsource all their monitoring in a traditional sense. Now with the adoption of UL 827A, monitoring centers have a variety of new options.

These options can bring increased efficiencies, increased redundancy and focusing on what’s important to an organization.

About the Author

Peter Giacalone is President of Giacalone Associates, an independent security consulting firm.