Video Alarm Verification Comes of Age

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White Paper: Video Alarm Verification
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Technology Advancements Are Driving Down Costs

Foreword

Increasing demands on local law enforcement coupled with shrinking municipal budgets are driving the need for video alarm verification.

Over 500,000 commercial burglaries occur annually in the nation and this underscores the basic fact that a security system is a worthwhile investment1. However, businesses that invest in a security system to protect their employees and property expect police to initiate a prompt response when an intrusion alarm occurs—but this is no longer always the rule. Many commercial insurers even mandate burglar alarms to policy holders in an effort to prevent loss.

As commercial growth has steadily increased, the demand on local law enforcement resources has greatly increased, too. Shrinking budgets now encourage police departments to reevaluate their mission and prioritize responsibilities—eliminating any activity that has little value or puts officers at risk and place priority responsibilities at the forefront.

A number of municipalities have pinpointed false alarms as a chief contributor to the strain on resources, citing that upwards of 98% of audible alarms were false. Many law enforcement agencies have now adopted alarm ordinances which range from alarm system permits and registrations to false alarm fines and penalties.

Further, a number of cities across the country, including Akron, San Jose and Milwaukee, now require alarm verification in order to initiate police response. Las Vegas and Detroit police departments estimate false alarms costs to be hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. To cope with this rapidly escalating cost, these cities have instituted strict “non-response” policies for traditional intrusion alarms that have not been verified.

In this whitepaper we will outline how video alarm verification has become an increasingly cost-effective tool and why it should be considered an essential element for your business security system.

Don Young
President, Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response (PPVAR)
Chief Information Officer, Protection 1

Video Alarm Verification: The Big Picture

Video alarm verification provides tremendous benefits for stakeholders that include end-users, law enforcement, security providers and insurance companies.

Here are the three essential areas you must be aware of to implement an effective video alarm verification program:

Policies—Understand the differences in the alarm verification policies that are in force today

Benefits—Identify the benefits that video alarm verification can produce for multiple stakeholders

Recommendations—Review recommendations for choosing the right technology to meet your needs and budget

Policies

Alarm Verification Policies Explained

Alarm verification policies can include enhanced call verification (ECV), premises verification, and verified response.

The following describes the procedures that are set in motion once an alarm has been activated:

Enhanced Call Verification

Second or additional calls are made to authorized persons who are not located at the alarm site to verify if a crime may have occurred.

Premises Verification

Also referred to as cross-zoning, where multiple zones must be tripped before a dispatch is processed.

Verified Response

A person is on site and can verify that a crime has occurred, or a central monitoring station operator has used remote audio or video to access the site to provide verification that a crime may have occurred.

Through the adoption of alarm verification policies and processes, the total number of false alarms has decreased over the past few years. However, within each of the aforementioned procedures, deficiencies still exist.

During the process of Enhanced Call Verification, the person being contacted is not at the premises. It is not physically possible for them to verify whether a crime is in progress or may have occurred. If this specific business has experienced false alarms and subsequent fines as a result, there may be a tendency to decline police dispatch in order to avoid additional fines.

In the application of Premises Verification, multiple zones must be tripped and the possibility always exists that an intruder could avoid tripping a second zone. Purchasing multiple pieces of equipment to provide cross zoning of an area may not be cost effective, and the application does not “false alarm proof” your premise.

Verified Response allows remote access to audio at the premises but does not provide a view of the situation that remote video provides. This provides a central station operator with limited information on a situation when deciding whether a police dispatch is warranted—or not.

Benefits

Video Alarm Verification Produces Benefits for Multiple Stakeholders

Video verification has grown in popularity due in part to false alarm reduction efforts. Video alarm verification technology has been proven to provide benefits well beyond limiting false alarms. A wide range of stakeholders now benefit, including the end user, local law enforcement, security providers and commercial insurance companies.

Help Reduce False Alarms and Associated Costs

Before video verification was possible, there was no clear winner in the fight to lower false alarm rates, and as a result businesses paid fines and law enforcement wasted valuable time.

  • Prior to video alarm verification, operators could listen in to an audio feed from the premises and use their discretion to determine if the police should be dispatched.
  • Video alarm verification provides significant advantages and can significantly reduce the number of unnecessary dispatches. By viewing video, central station operators use a simplified process for verifying onsite activity associated with the receipt of an incoming burglar alarm signal, determining the situation at the premises, and if necessary, request a response from local law enforcement.

End-User Notification

This can also help reduce false alarms. Adding end user notification to the verification process allows the end user, as well as the central monitoring station, to receive the alarm and video of the event.

  • End-users can receive a text message or email notification of the event and have the ability to view the same eventbased video as the monitoring center operator. They can also call the monitoring central station to confirm or deny the alarm, if necessary.

Drive Down Costs While Advancing Technology

Historically, it has been cost prohibitive to employ video verification as it often required the purchase of additional cameras and DVR equipment. Further, when central station operators viewed live video of the premises, the activity being viewed did not coincide with the alarm event.

Advancements in video verification technology being deployed today are no longer cost prohibitive, but on the contrary are proving to be cost effective. New wireless integrated sensor/cameras have dramatically reduced hardware and installation costs. A video verified alarm system now approaches the cost of a traditional wireless motion sensor.

  • Today’s technology allows video clips associated with an incoming alarm event to be sent to the central station, and if requested, simultaneously to a business security customer’s smartphone. This process allows the central station operator to view the video clip and determine who or what caused the alarm event—before making the decision to dispatch the police.
  • Proliferation of video verification technology will continue to drive costs down as manufacturers advance product development, competition increases and more business security customers adopt this solution.

Advancements in technology have dramatically reduced the hardware and installation costs of a video verified alarm system.

Increase Situational Awareness and Safety for First Responders

In the event of an incident, central station operators can provide more information to first responders that include descriptions of the location and the physical appearance of any perpetrators. This can promote a greater level of officer safety by providing heightened situational awareness for responders entering the premises.

Increase Criminal Apprehensions

Video verified alarms occur when a central monitoring station operator has witnessed a crime in progress and notifies police to request dispatch.

  • Because the alarm has been visually verified, law enforcement can issue a priority response, which may lead to a faster dispatch of officers to the premises.
  • Video verified alarms have been proven to increase apprehensions with documented arrest rates over 10% versus the arrest rate for traditional alarms at .08%2.

Decrease Property Loss and Limit Business Interruption

When offenders are apprehended on the premises, property loss and damage can be reduced. Business interruption can be kept to a minimum, potentially saving time and resources.

Aid in the Prosecution of Offenders

Since video footage of actual alarm events is recorded and stored, your legal team and law enforcement can have documentation for use in the prosecution of criminals. Arresting repeat offenders can discourage recurring victimization at your business and increase overall safety for the surrounding community.

Reduce Insurance Claims

A business security system is the accepted first line of defense. For that reason, most insurance companies provide a discount on premiums for businesses with a professionally monitored security system. With increased apprehension rates and property loss kept to a minimum, business owners can limit insurance claims, and insurance companies may even reduce premiums if video alarm verification is considered a loss control measure by their underwriters.

Maximize the Value of a Security Investment

In today’s tight business environment, organizations are continually looking for solutions to help them do more with less. By utilizing on-site intrusion alarm and video surveillance systems and integrating video alarm verification services, businesses can turn an existing infrastructure into a proactive tool that provides many additional benefits.

Mitigate Risk and Promote Safety

Video alarm verification can mitigate risks and promote the safety of your employees through decreased response time. When an officer is aware that he/she is responding to a true alarm event, you can expect a priority response.

  • Upon receipt of an incoming alarm signal, the central station operator can view the video and confirm a security breach.
  • They can immediately notify local law enforcement and request a priority police dispatch.
  • With video verification, law enforcement is more likely to issue a priority response, which can result in criminal apprehension and limit your property loss.
  • Most importantly, faster police response times can impact the safety of employees—your most valuable asset.
  • Apprehension of perpetrators can also prevent future crimes from being committed by repeat offenders.

Recommendations

Select the Right Technology

When choosing a video alarm verification solution to meet your needs and budget, it is important to choose the right technology as well as the right partner to help you implement the system. We suggest you consider the following recommendations:

Utilize Your Infrastructure to Save Money

Consider a partner who will take an approach that utilizes your existing intrusion detection and video surveillance systems—this goes a long way toward achieving a highly cost effective solution. The major providers who implement their video alarm verification solution using this approach are I-View Now and Videofied.

I-View Now is a cloud-based central station video interface that ties your existing traditional alarm system, cameras and DVRs together and delivers a video clip (attached to the alarm event) to a central monitoring station.

  • After receipt of an incoming alarm signal, a central station operator can view the video clip associated with the incoming alarm event. This allows the operator to assess the situation and decide if the alarm is false or if a police dispatch is required.
  • Competitive solutions for video verification require the central station operator to directly connect to a camera located at the premises, which can be time-consuming.
  • Since I-View Now software allows the intrusion alarm system and cameras to be connected so that the alarm event is tied to the video footage of the event, the central station process can be more accurate.
  • I-View Now service also includes end user notification, live viewing and event-based video viewing. The service is web-based and does not require software or dedicated application.
  • Best of all, I-View Now technology is affordable and provides a significant savings when compared to competitive video alarm verification solutions.

Videofied is a wireless battery powered camera/sensor that looks like a traditional motion sensor and provides flexible and easy installation with no power cables or wires.

  • When the armed sensor detects an intruder, the integrated camera sends a video clip of the alarm event to the central station, allowing the operator to serve as a remote eyewitness to verify who or what tripped the alarm.
  • The wireless Videofied system communicates to the monitoring center over Ethernet or the cellular network.
  • The small, network-friendly 100K video clips do not require a Wi-Fi and necessitate very little bandwidth.
  • An additional benefit is that the end user can use 1View to remotely view the Videofied cameras on a smartphone or mobile device for a visual status of their facilities.
  • The Videofied solution costs are marginal compared to conventional cameras, and the product is competitive with stand-alone cameras and motion detectors.

Partner With a Trusted Provider

Partnering with a business security provider with expertise in video alarm verification technology and processes will allow you to realize full value of this important service.

  • Ask your current business security provider if their central station provides video alarm verification and determine how their solution is deployed.
    • Does their solution provide live video feeds of the cameras after the incoming alarm signal?
    • Does their technology allow transmission of a video clip associated with the incoming alarm?
  • Determine the time to full implementation and create a list of the necessary resources you will need to supply.
  • Perform short term as well as long term investment comparisons for each set of solutions, including hardware, software and service costs.
  • A good partner will not be interested in making one quick sale, but rather in partnering with you to meet your long term business security goals.

Conclusion

Technology developments in recent years have made video alarm verification more affordable than ever before—producing a number of benefits for stakeholders.

In addition to driving down costs, end users can now benefit from reduced false alarms, risk mitigation, increased safety and security for employees, limited business interruption and maximized value of their security investment.

Insurance companies may enjoy fewer claims when video alarm verification is incorporated into a loss control program.

Law enforcement can deploy resources more effectively, increase criminal apprehension rate and achieve better situational awareness/safety for first responders.

Carefully considering an experienced provider to implement the right video alarm verification technology can help your business achieve maximum benefits with lower costs.

1. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/property-crime/burglarymain
2. http://www.ppvar.org/_asset/w32243/PPVAR-White-Paper.pdf

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