Three decades ago, automated digital dialers revolutionized premises security, launching what is now the $20 billion a year alarm monitoring market. Today we are once again in the dawning stages of a major market shift in premises security: remote guarding.
Propelled largely by advancements in video analytics that give one person the ability to effectively keep an eye on 1,000 cameras at once, remote guarding presents a new paradigm for security protection – much the same way digital dialers transformed alarm monitoring decades ago. To help usher in this breakthrough in security protection and to set standards for quality and performance, a number of leading interactive video monitoring companies, along with video analytics and monitoring software providers, have banded together to form the Remote Guarding Alliance.
In a remote guarding system, video content analysis monitors the streams of images from video cameras continually. This is how the system can recognize potential threats before problems occur, such as detecting intrusions at the perimeter and providing earlier warning. A security clip of each breach is sent immediately to a remote guarding station. It takes only seconds to accurately verify if an alarm is real or false. Then, through live streaming video, the operator sees exactly what is happening at the site and with audio over IP they can respond instantly.
It is amazing to see how fast intruders leave after announcing over the loudspeaker closest to them, “You, with the red jacket and baseball cap. You’ve been captured on video and the police are on their way if you don’t leave at once.” And it is interesting to see how rarely they come back to test the system again. The few who are foolish enough to ignore the warning will find police eager to respond quickly when an intrusion is visually observed at the moment it is happening. This is not just deterrence; this is true crime prevention.
These advanced capabilities form the basis for a genuine revolution in video monitoring. An estimated 100 million video surveillance cameras are in service today around the globe. The reality is, less than five percent of security footage is actively watched because the manpower is too expensive, making a majority of video applications, at best, a method for hindsight, identifying a suspect after a crime has been committed and damage has been done.
In contrast, remote guarding offers a far more effective means of active protection from anywhere in the world. While humans monitoring video screens grow fatigued to the point of ineffectiveness after only 20 minutes, video analytics remain 100 percent vigilant, allowing security personnel to monitor 10 times as many cameras compared to traditional video monitoring while at the same time providing earlier warning and better detection. Hourly guard tours cannot compare to such constant site awareness. Video analytics and audio over IP makes remote guarding a cost efficient real-time response to threat situations.
The Remote Guarding Alliance established the following five minimum requirements to meet the standard for remote guarding installations:
- The use of video analytics capable of object recognition and tracking, for continuous detection.
- Intelligent video clips that capture and highlight the detected intruders for rapid, accurate remote verification.
- Live streaming video from the site for situational awareness.
- Audio over IP, for establishing a presence at the protected site.
- Security operators trained to provide context-sensitive responses tailored to the security situation.
Proper training of remote guards is important, since in many situations, the “intruder” may in fact be a welcome visitor – for example, someone “kicking the tires” in a car dealer’s lot after hours. Or in the case of ATM machines, an alarm that someone has been dwelling too long in the vestibule could indicate a vagrant trying to find a place to sleep, or it might be the sign of a customer having problems and needing assistance. Or take the case when video analytics report a truck backing up to a loading dock after midnight: The remote guard might be facing a potential burglary, or it could be a planned late night delivery. With two-way audio and video they could verify the delivery credentials, remotely open the loading dock door, supervise the whole unloading process and then lock up afterwards.
Remote guarding also delivers added value to your client’s business. Because the cluster of security benefits and cost advantages are so compelling, intelligent interactive video monitoring is now economically feasible enough to enable guard services in more applications.
Take the real-world story of an auto dealership in an urban area. On-site guards and fences did little to prevent theft and vandalism on the lot. They still experienced break-ins and damage on a monthly basis. Adopting remote guarding with video analytics reduced their thefts and break-ins to zero, for the last three years. The protection was so successful that they took their fences down, making the lot far more welcoming to visitors. Their sales went up and their dealership monthly costs were cut by 75 percent over the on-premises guard service. Video analytics have produced similar results across the landscape, whether protecting construction sites, high-risk facilities, chemical plants, utility sub-stations, high-end homes, storage lots, or supporting homeland defense at borders and government buildings.
Remote guarding built on video analytics is unquestionably the next wave of premises security, driven by both cost and performance benefits.
About the author: Doug Marman is the CTO of VideoIQ Inc., Bedford, Mass., and the founder of the Remote Guarding Alliance. The companies of the Remote Guarding Alliance include: Elite Interactive Solutions Inc., Rapid Response Systems, Statewide Security, SureView Systems, VideoIQ, ViewPoint and Visentry. Visit www.remoteguarding.org.