Improved alarm verification standards will help reduce the number of false dispatches of law enforcement officers The verification of alarms continues to progress with more affordable technology as well as an updated industry standard set for release as soon as the end of February 2016. The definition of alarm verification is getting a makeover in the standard, guided by a range of stakeholders including the security industry, law enforcement, associations and other interested groups whose overall mission is to quell false dispatches and make sure residential and commercial alarms are responded to quickly and effectively. The draft Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA)/American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard is prepared under direction of the Security Industry Standards Council: CSAA CS-V-01-20XX Alarm Confirmation, Verification and Notification Procedures (DRAFT, Version October 12, 2015). The standard has undergone the comment period and will be sent to ANSI, with its release coming as soon as the end of February, says Lou Fiore, Principal of LT Fiore Inc., Sparta, NewJersey. Fiore chairs the CSAA Standards Committee and also chairs the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC). Fiore says alarm verification as defined in the standard involves video and audio. Confirmation is what the industry commonly refers as two-call verification, in which the central monitoring station contacts two responsible parties on the alarm user’s list before referring to authorities. “Now we have a much stronger standard and a better way to know there is a crime in progress,” Fiore says. “It’s critical to have a standard for alarm companies, and it helps reduce false alarms and increase captures.” (Hold up and panic alarms are generally excluded from verification requirements.) Adding video to the verification mix The topic of verification and especially video has become increasingly important as cities, towns and municipalities burdened with false alarm dispatches require some form of verification or threaten non-response. According to the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), Frisco, Texas, fewer than 30 police agencies out of 18,000 have some form of verified response, and that’s because of proactive industry involvement. Ron Walters, Director of SIAC in West Hills, California., says the standard has been an important part of elevating the stature of the technology in the eyes of the industry, law enforcement and users. “It’s important to continue to tweak the definitions and educate people. I think video has found its niche. It’s not part of every alarm system yet, but it has a huge place in commercial specifications,” he says. Video is becoming increasingly integrated with alarm verification, as well as ‘two-call verification,’ in which the central monitoring station contacts two responsible parties on the alarm user’s list before referring to authorities Improved indoor/outdoor video verification According to Keith Jentoft, President of Videofied-RSI Video Technologies Inc., Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, cameras have become much less expensive for both indoor and outdoor video verification applications. “There are two possibilities for video verification. Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, which are becoming cheaper and in which on-board analytics are becoming more common. The other option is Videofied. We are unique in that we don’t need a power cord. The monitoring is also becoming less expensive and with more options. For about $4 per month you can have outdoor monitoring,” he says. Jentoft, who is also the partnership liaison for Partnership for Priority Verified Alarm Response (PPVAR), Henderson, Nevada, adds that consumers are becoming more educated and alarm contractors more aggressive, leading their sales and marketing efforts with video verification. “They see it as a point of differentiation for their services,” Jentoft says. Complying with law enforcement standards The CSAA/ANSI draft standard has adopted the language of law enforcement, through the PPVAR and originally the Texas Police Chiefs Association, agreed upon: “Verified Alarm shall be defined as an electronic security system event in which a trained central station operator using a standardised protocol has determined the presence of humans and the high probability that a criminal offense is in progress.” In addition, it states: “A law enforcement agency having jurisdiction to respond to Verified Alarms has the autonomy and authority to increase the priority of Verified Alarm calls to increase the arrest of offenders and reduce property loss.” Jentoft says the most important thing about the standard is that it reflects the definition law enforcement embraces, instead of one created by the alarm industry.
PSA partnership with Videofied opens untapped markets for its members RSI Video Technologies, Inc. recently announced it has entered into a partnership with PSA Security Network to distribute Videofied’s next generation of wireless outdoor battery-powered cameras along with the rest of Videofied’s wireless video alarm systems. PSA Security Network is the world’s largest electronic security cooperative, owned by the most progressive security integrators throughout North America who are responsible for over $2 billion annually in security, fire and life safety installations. The partnership “Our partnership with Videofied opens untapped markets for our members,” said Bill Bozeman, president and CEO of PSA Security Network. “The new ‘filtered monitoring’ feature which helps to weed out false alarms dramatically lowers the total system cost and drives additional value for our members looking for outdoor video alarm system solutions.” “Videofied’s next generation of battery-powered outdoor cameras and filtered monitoring revolutionise outdoor security with significantly improved performance and new monitoring options,” said Keith Jentoft, president of Videofied. “Videofied secures outdoor and remote assets with no cables or wires at a fraction of the cost of traditional CCTV cameras.” Videofied - truly wireless Videofied is unique because it’s “truly wireless,” the only infrastructure needed is a cell signal – no power or Ethernet cables because the entire system runs on batteries. Videofied cameras can run for years on batteries and have a proven record securing critical infrastructure in harsh environments; from oil rigs in Canadian winters to electrical substations in Arizona summers. The new cameras are a cost effective solution to prevent copper theft or secure construction sites. Videofied is professionally monitored to deliver priority response in the event of a real crime, immediately sending the video clip of the intruder to a central station for review and police dispatch. Filtered monitoring opens even more cost-sensitive applications, according to Patrick Devereaux, vice president of Emergency24. Devereau states, “Filtered monitoring is the most affordable approach to outdoor security because it allows the customer to filter any false alarms and only send actual crimes to the central station for dispatch and police response.”
In practice, 90 percent or more of burglar alarms are false, and studies have estimated the related arrest rate at about 0.02 percent. No wonder law enforcement responds as a low priority, if at all. In contrast, a video-verified security alarm provides the virtual equivalent of an eye-witness to a crime in progress, and responding to video alarms yields arrest rates in the double digits – 20 percent or higher. That's a thousand times higher than non-video alarms. The Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response (PPVAR) is a public/private partnership advocating the benefits of video alarms for insurance companies, law enforcement and security companies. Stakeholders in the battle against property crime are on the PPVAR board of directors, and the organisation is working with police and sheriff's departments throughout the United States to drive new standards and best practices. Members of PPVAR's Video Verification Committee include members of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department; Phoenix, Houston and Chicago police departments; and the Texas Police Chiefs Association. Video alarms become more useful with improved technology Technology innovation has increased the usefulness of video to verify burglar alarms. “Surveillance camera prices are coming down,” says Keith Jentoft, president of RSI Video Technologies, which makes the Videofied product line of video-verified intrusion alarms. Such devices are now comparable in price to “blind” PIR (passive infrared) sensors commonly used for security alarms. “The hardware costs are cheap, and installation is easy with battery-powered and wireless devices,” says Jentoft, “monitoring costs are the same.” Jentoft is the Partnership Liaison for PPVAR. Getting the most benefit from technology improvements depends on police dispatchers modifying their practices to give higher priority to video-verified alarms, in effect communicating the increased value and urgency of video alarms to police officers in the field. Only then can improvements in arrest rates for property crimes be realised. Central monitoring stations must move video-verified alarms to the top of their queues. Police can then treat a verified security alarm as a crime in progress. For example, in Grand Prairie, Texas, the response time for video alarms is less than 2 minutes, versus a 15-minute response time for non-video alarms. The department is realising a double-digit increase in arrest rates as a result. Effective action against property crime with verified video alarms PPVAR is driving creation of best practices, defining what constitutes a video-verified alarm Law enforcement resources are diminishing, so property crimes tend to take a back seat to crimes against persons. With limited resources, it is critical that time spent on property crimes yields arrests. Video-verified alarms increase a department's efficiency when investigating property crimes. The insurance industry is active on the PPVAR board of directors, motivated by a shared desire to prevent property crime through more arrests – for insurers, one arrested burglar is the equivalent of 30 fewer claims. “Insurers want to have lower claims, cops want to make more arrests, and the alarm industry wants to see greater security,” says Jentoft. Establishing best practices and standards Greater implementation of best practices depends on evolution of standards and operating procedures for law enforcement. PPVAR is driving creation of best practices, defining what constitutes a video-verified alarm, what information is communicated to an emergency dispatch operator, formats for sharing video clips, etc. New standards will minimise false alarms and maximise arrests. Currently, there is a dearth of standards nationwide, and each police chief has typically set his or her own policy. A standardised policy could be easily adopted by individual departments, thus accelerating acceptance of video-verified alarms as higher priority calls. Involvement of police professionals in the standards-making process increases likelihood of widespread adoption of a uniform standard. Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which certifies central station standards, is also involved in PPVAR's standards initiative. A free educational session at ISC West, April 3, 2014, in Las Vegas, NV, will feature law enforcement, insurers, and industry executives, available to provide information on how verified video alarms create stakeholder value. Watch the Video Verification - How does it work? video to learn more. Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response (PPVAR)