Unwanted alarm drops are a nuisance, and police departments across the nation are working toward a solution. Alarm companies and equipment manufacturers also are working to reduce or eliminate false alarms in a variety of ways.

Video verification is one means of reducing unwanted false alarms. This is done using visual confirmation of one or more signs of a burglary in progress. Confirmation is performed by transmitting video images to the central monitoring station, so operators can view the affected areas before they call the local police department.

Incentives to sell and buy

A powerful incentive to sell remote video services for alarm companies today is that a growing number of police departments are implementing a no-response policy with regard to homes and businesses that experience excessive false alarms.

“With alarm monitoring, there are so many cities that are not responding unless there’s a verified intrusion,” said Ray Jones, CEO, Buckeye Protective Services of Canton, Ohio. “This means the central, either by a secondary security patrol or an off-site video monitoring facility, must visually verify that there’s a break-in in progress.”

There’s no better way for alarm companies to lose money than to have the police department stop responding to a central station operator’s calls for police response. This is one of the reasons why video verification was invented.

Remote video also works for end-users, as it enables the central station to reduce the fines cities and counties impose when the number of false alarms exceeds a set limit.

Another powerful incentive for the purchase of remote video is the need to reduce operating costs to ownership of a 24/7 security force. Remote video can greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for an on-site guard force.

For businesses that do not have a security force, remote video can provide a higher level of security than is usually possible with an on-site video surveillance system. The client pays the alarm company for only the services used and only when these services are rendered.

By using video monitoring along with audio technology, central station operators can respond to real-time issues. A good example of this is where access control is employed at a remote location with no one present. By providing a call box or intercom station with a call button, visitors can get real-time help through an alarm company’s central station operators.

Verification vs. monitoring

There is one primary difference between video verification and video monitoring.

Verification offers an event--connected response from the central monitoring station, using video snapshots. Video monitoring, on the other hand, provides a list of services geared to a central station and the everyday operation of a client’s facility, often using live, streaming video. Sample applications include gate and door control and the monitoring of an existing closed-circuit television system.

Video verification entails the transmission of one or more pre- and post-event images to a central monitoring station at the time of an intrusion alarm. Event--connected images are typically transmitted over the Internet. This allows station operators to quickly determine if there is a need to dispatch police.

More value-added video

A typical video monitoring system includes real-time event scheduling where operators can view the premises routinely any time.

Real-time viewing of a facility involves touring the grounds using video cameras installed throughout. This feature is commonly referred to as a video tour.

On cue, central station operators connect to a digital video recorder or a network-attached storage device where they can review select cameras. Typical locations include outdoor parking lots, entrances, special interior rooms, tool cribs and bank vaults.

The equipment used to perform video verification and video monitoring may not be the same. However, real-time viewing, in both cases, often is accomplished through a broadband connection, such as cable Internet and DSL. Older remote video systems used the public switched telephone network (PSTN). PSTN is no longer the prevalent method of connection.

The objective of a quality remote video surveillance system with a monitoring component is to incorporate and automate central station operations by event and scheduling. To accomplish this, integrate the central station automation software with the remote video software/hardware. Integration is critical in order to create an effective video monitoring platform.

Video monitoring is a win-win situation for both the end-user and the alarm company. The subscriber’s overall cost savings is usually less than that needed to maintain a full-time guard force. For the alarm company, the incentive to offer remote video services lies in recurring monthly revenue (RMR) that the company will receive.

COLOMBO is a 32-year veteran in the security and life safety markets. He currently is director with FireNetOnline.com and a nationally recognized trade journalist located in East Canton, Ohio.