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Video verification is here to stay

Bob Miller runs SecureVision View in Aurora, Ont., and has been setting up alarm systems for video verification for 10 years now. More than any alarm dealer I have talked to, he understands both the benefits and opportunities of video verification but also some of the issues connected to this service.

December 9, 2014  By Victor Harding

He built a monitoring station, Maximum Monitoring (which now belongs to SecurTek), which is one of the few stations in Canada that understands video verification.
The case for video verification of alarms is strong. Customers complain about the slow police response to alarms. By the time police get to the premise, the damage is often done. The industry needs a justifiable reason to make police dispatches a higher priority. What could be better than a video of the crime in progress?

Setting up customers so that they can view their premise from a smart phone or a computer is becoming commonplace. Video verification takes this one step further by delivering the video to the monitoring station and tying it to the alarm signal. The operator handling the alarm signal can quickly view the corresponding video and better determine whether there is truly a break-in.

Up until very recently, there were good reasons for alarm dealers and stations to be wary of video verification. The cameras and DVRs were expensive and bandwidth was a problem. It was very cumbersome for station operators to manage video verification with the different types of DVRs that they had to handle. There was no tested software simplifying the process of what to do in the station when you had an alarm signal.

Today, cameras and DVRs cost a fraction of what they once did and bandwidth is more readily available. Better motion detectors and cameras with analytics are helping to reduce false alarms. The CSAA in the U.S. is working with a new organization called the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response to create a standard set of monitoring protocols for video verification. VV is about to go mainstream in the U.S. and I predict that within the next few years authorities will not respond to “unverified” alarms.

Although the case for video verification appears to be a slam dunk, Bob Miller will tell you that there can be issues and a learning curve. Do you use off-site storage or DVRs to store the video images? Each has its pluses and minuses. There are still false alarms coming from VV, particularly when used outside. Additionally the authorities want the VV dispatch to come from a ULC-approved monitoring station. Finally, the monitoring operator still has to exercise judgment in many cases. Is that person they see inside the premise legitimate or not? In these cases, it is always better to have the owner look at the site remotely as well.

The Lesson Learned here is, as with all new technologies, getting into VV is not without its issues. There is a learning curve, so you had better start now. Finally, we need more monitoring stations to take video verification seriously and start to learn how to do it and offer it as a service. 

Victor Harding is the principal of Harding Security Services (www.hardingsecurity.ca).

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