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Firm securing its place as major security player

December 9, 2012 12:11 am

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NPS will provide clients with video surveillance from its Spotsylvania County monitoring center. bz1208NPS1.jpg

Kurt Menzies is CEO of SNAP Security, which is working with National Protective Services to provide security.

BY CATHY JETT
BY CATHY JETT

National Protective Services Inc. has seen the future of the security business.

And it's technology.

Humans serve as backup instead of the other way around.

NPS, a family-owned business based in Fredericksburg, has teamed up with a Canadian company to offer video surveillance as a service, or VSaas. Its heart is declassified software that was previously available only to federal agencies and the military.

NPS showed off the new offering Wednesday during the grand opening of its monitoring center in a Spotsylvania County office park. Initially, a certified monitoring officer will be stationed there from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to keep watch over cameras installed at shopping centers, apartment complexes and other properties. The center eventually will be manned 24/7.

VSaas' software program sends the officer an audible alert whenever suspicious activity occurs and brings that screen front and center on his monitor. He can control cameras installed on that property to check out what's happening and then decide if there's a need to dispatch one of the company's security guards or notify law enforcement.

"It eliminates false alarms and false alarm charges," said Robin Sutton, NPS' director of sales and marketing. "The police are charging a lot for false alarms."

Live video footage can also be sent temporarily to a mobile device, such as an iPhone or iPad, so the responder knows what to expect and who or what to look for. Clients can monitor activity on their devices as well.

"If nobody gets there in time to apprehend a suspect, they can zoom in on a license plate or track the vehicle as it leaves," Sutton said.

Cameras will also stamp the date and time on video of suspicious activity and register it in an event calendar. If someone was prying open the door of a client's shop at 3:15 a.m., she said, he can press 3:15 a.m. and the system will bring up the correct footage for review or as evidence in a court case.

"This is the future of our industry," Sutton said. "It's a good way to tie together the people we already have with technology."

SNAP Security, based in the Canadian province of Alberta, came up with VSaas after the launch of the iPhone. That, said CEO Kurt Menzies, was a "game changer" because video could now be sent to relatively inexpensive mobile devices instead of the costly ones that its military and government clients in Canada and the United States had been using.

"That was the open door," said Menzies at NPS' open house. "We thought, 'Let's do something different.'"

His company decided to concentrate on the private sector and began partnering with other security companies in January to offer VSaas to clients. By the end of this year, there will be 20 in the United States alone. He said he chose NPS because it has a proven track record, solid base of customers and long-standing relationship with its community.

"If they can do that with their current technology, they will have a home run with this program," Menzies said.

NPS has already begun designing and installing video surveillance systems for some of its existing clients. They sign a monthly subscription that locks in one price for at least three years.

That way they don't have to shell out thousands up front for equipment, and they know exactly how much they'll be paying for a predetermined period, Sutton said.

"At several apartment complexes where clients had a standing guard, we were able to take the exact same budget and lock in the cost for next three years," Sutton said.

Among those who are getting VSaas is The Beatty Companies, which owns Greenbrier Shopping Center on State Route 3 in Fredericksburg. It wanted to ensure that tenants and patrons "enjoy a safe shopping environment," said Janet M. Bahmer, Beatty's director of leasing and marketing.

Clients also can use NPS' new service for such things as monitoring staff, checking inventory and for training purposes. Another company has even used it to find a young child who went missing in a large crowd, Sutton said.

The software was specifically programmed to look for someone 3 feet tall wearing blue pants and brown sneakers. Anyone who didn't meet that description vanished from the screen.

"They found him in about seven minutes," Sutton said. "He'd just wandered off, but in this day and age, gone is not good."

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
Email: cjett@freelancestar.com





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