The intrusion alarms market has long played an important role in keeping stores and households safe by issuing alarms to monitoring stations or police after a possible break-in. But inevitably, alarm systems can create false alarms, which cause problems for multiple stakeholders amid budget and manpower constraints. Video alarm verification, therefore, has become a trend in the alarms industry.
False alarms are both annoying and costly, and the high false alarm rates in different markets across the globe are making things worse as police spend taxpayers’ money to respond to alarms triggered by users forgetting their passcodes or sensors detecting moving pets. “Today around 85% of all alarms detected and reported by intrusion systems are false alarms. The vast majority of these false alarms are not caused by a malfunction of a detection device, but by the user,” said Ross Wilks, Product Marketing Manager.
Just to put things into perspective, according to The Daily Courier, a Prescott, Arizona-based newspaper, the local police department responded to 772 burglar alarms in 2016, and only six were classified as criminal offenses; the remaining 766, or 99.2 percent, were false. Also according to the paper, each time an officer responds to an alarm, it costs the town US$58.12, translating into a total of $44,520 in taxpayers’ money to dispatch officers to false alarms in 2016. Demands to verify alarms to reduce waste, lower cost and improve operational efficiency, therefore, have been rising.
The operational costs involved in attending unverified alarms by monitoring stations or police are enormous. Due to ever-increasing competition, monitoring stations are making all possible efforts to reduce operational costs, hence adding alarm verification capabilities to the alarm monitoring centers. In countries like Spain, alarm verification became mandatory by regulation, aimed at reducing police response costs.
Alarm verification by way of video, whereby the activation of an alarm is accompanied by a video clip from the scene, has therefore become a trend, if not a requirement, in the industry. “There is a new market segment now that video will enhance the verification and reduce false alarms,” Wilks said. “Reducing these figures is becoming critical to the future acceptance and performance of intrusion systems.”
Traditionally this concept has been driven by central monitoring stations (CMS) and has been adopted in the residential market where single-direction wireless systems were installed. Video verification has become required because of the wireless systems adopted did not have a way of confirming alarms in a reliable manner. For example, when there is an alarm in the single-direction wireless detectors, they activate once and then enter the battery-saving mode. This will not give enough information to the CMS to confirm the alarm. Of course, the CMS had the option to install a separate analog video surveillance system, but the cost of such would have been too high for the purpose of the installation. From here, the wireless PIR-CAM concept was adopted, whereby after an alarm a low-resolution image is sent to the CMS to confirm the alarm.
And benefits of video verified alarms are manifold. According to a security service provider, a traditional alarm response time of 21 minutes in Boston was shortened to just 7 minutes, 38 seconds when a video alarm was in place, a difference of 13 minutes, 22 seconds. In another report, verified alarms have resulted in documented arrest rates of over 10 percent, compared to 0.08 percent for traditional alarms.
However, there are still challenges that cause users to hesitate on installing these integrated solutions. “IP bandwidth and cost have been factors that have prevented AV implementation in the past. However with improvements in network speeds and lower cost of entry, these are no longer concerns,” Wilks said.
The current challenges are mainly the costs involved with the video alarm detectors/cameras and the fact that most alarm vendors do not have a proper visual verification solution triggered by the alarm system.
Source: a&s Magazine