Selling facilities monitoring as a service

Tom Nolle/CIMI Corp.
14 Apr 2011
Addressing the challenges of a facilities monitoring as a service framework
The most pervasive technical model for providing facilities monitoring as a service includes some type of facility controller, attachable modular sensor elements and a broadband connection to a monitoring application.
· The facility controller would be responsible for sensor management and alerts, as well as for providing security so the framework is immune to outside hacking and could be trusted to operate correctly. It is possible to integrate the controller element of the service with a cable or telecom broadband gateway, and vendors are already exploring this combination. But while a broadband gateway can monitor traffic by monitoring its own functions, it would require some form of external sensor connection to perform other facilities monitoring and management tasks.
·  Connecting sensors to the controller is obviously an issue, particularly since any need for a truck roll to install or modify the facilities monitoring system will raise the bar to acceptance by driving up both the initial cost and sustaining cost. Wireless sensors, or those based on power-line network or in-home cable standards (such as HomePNA, HomePlug and MoCA), can provide a means of linking the controller and sensors, but connection security and reliability are important. The goal would be for the provider to set standards for the sensors, then allow the user to self-install them, offering installation only as a cost item.
Many different kinds of companies might hope to provide consumer and business facilities monitoring and control, but not all players could hope to match the economies that telecom companies and other broadband providers could achieve.
The key point that network operators have realized is that there is an element of home-residence management involved in supporting consumer broadband services. They need a staff of support technicians and customer service personnel, and there are likely to be considerable economies of scale associated with extending the scope of the facilities monitoring and control to home security and power systems. Operators may not only be players in the facilities monitoring and management space -- they could be natural winners.
Tom Nolle is president of CIMI Corporation
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