IT Intelligence: 3 Advantages to Centralized Security Operations Center Monitoring

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In an economy with rising costs, labor shortages and increased vacancy rates, the need for remote monitoring and the utilization of centralized security operations centers (SOCs) has never been greater.

Advances in Cloud-based access control and video solutions and analytics have reduced the costs associated with centralizing physical access control systems and made centralized monitoring a viable option for any size organization.

Today, there are multiple Cloud-based access control systems and video management systems that allow camera feeds and access control to be monitored from any device anytime, anywhere.

While centralized monitoring can be achieved with on-premises access control and video systems, many times, company operational technology (OT) departments are reluctant to allow access to systems inside of the building environments. Cloud-hosted and hybrid systems allow for access to cameras and access control systems outside of the building environment limiting the risk to internal building systems.

Let’s look at three primary benefits of centralized monitoring:

Standardization of Processes & Procedures

For many companies, camera and access control monitoring can occur across hundreds or even thousands of sites. Maintaining consistency across these sites becomes a huge challenge.

Not only do standardized procedures need to be created across all sites, but these procedures must be updated uniformly, and security personnel must also execute these procedures uniformly across all sites.

By centralizing the operation, documentation only needs to be created and updated in one location and specific security personnel can be recruited and trained to handle incidents across a large area uniformly.

Event-Based Incidents & Aggregated Data

In a command center environment, best practices dictate that event-based monitoring is used.  Trying to live monitor hundreds of cameras and alarm streams is not practical.

Event-based monitoring allows operators to receive data from thousands of inputs and only react to camera analytic events and access control events.

While there is some cost for installing analytic-based video systems, the potential labor reduction will compensate for these costs. Another benefit of having all systems coming into a centralized environment is that it makes the aggregation and analyzation of data much easier.

Trends can be identified and security resources can be deployed based on this information, further reducing costs.

Justifying the ROI Proposition

The security industry has always battled with the calculation of a return on investment (ROI) for security programs. How do you calculate the absence of an issue occurring as a result of proactive security policies?

How do you measure the absence of incidents? I discuss this topic further in a collaborative SIA article.

By centralizing security operations, companies create the opportunity to reduce staffing. This makes calculating ROI on a security operations center much easier. For example, a guard may be used to patrol the exterior of a property to make sure that no homeless encampments are being created. This officer costs the customer $25 per hour, or $218,000 per year.

The officer is only able to patrol a given area of the property once an hour and needs breaks and lunches. These same areas can be monitored from a security command center utilizing cameras with vehicle, person and loitering analytics, allowing the area to be monitored at all times, and a security officer can be dispatched when needed.

The costs to build a monitoring center can vary, but for a reasonably sized room the costs would be between $100,000 and $150,000. The cost to staff a monitoring center with one person, 24/7, is $218,000 per year at a $25/hour bill rate. Assuming additional personnel can be cut in the same fashion, a positive ROI can be achieved quickly.

The use of third-party monitoring centers creates an even faster ROI. Since no monitoring center needs to be built, the customer would just need to do the same calculations using the monthly per device costs from the third-party monitoring center.

Event-based camera monitoring usually costs somewhere between $100 and $250 per month depending on the number of events and required response from the monitoring center.

The only drawback with third-party monitoring is that there may be some degradation in the service experience for customers since monitoring centers handle large amounts of alarms from various locations. Also, the ability to customize monitoring parameters and response may be limited.

I recommend any organization that does not have some type of centralized operations center at least go through the exercise of modeling the cost of building a room and the corresponding labor reductions that can be achieved as a result of centralizing security operations.

The labor market is tight, and wages continue to rise. Centralizing security operations is a great way to utilize technology to help reduce operating costs.

Louis Boulgarides is the president and CEO of Ollivier and SmartSite. Contact him at

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