New York City journalist once wrote, “Imagine the staggering prospect of being able to lie in your bed at night with the peaceful assurance that no intruder can gain entrance into your home without your knowledge!”
The incredulity delivered in these words was a typical reaction when Edwin T. Holmes began selling alarm systems in Boston , MA , in the year 1858. The Holmes alarm system consisted of magnetic contacts, a battery and a vibrating bell. When doors or windows equipped with the magnetic contacts were opened, the bell began to ring.
Beyond Holmes's Expectations
Even though Mr. Holmes initially found the home alarm to be a hard sell, his instincts about its potential were justified. As alarm sales gradually increased, Holmes moved to New York City , where he felt crime was more rampant. There he opened a central alarm monitoring station that would expand the profit potential of his alarm systems. With this venture, Holmes brought the concept of recurring revenue to the security industry.
Reluctance finally gave way to acquiescence and alarm systems blossomed into a multi-billion dollar business. Now there are numerous alarm devices with varying capabilities installed in homes and businesses around the world and there are thousands of monitoring stations offering an assortment of high level, 24/7 services.
A central station is primarily on alert for threats to life and property via electronic alarm systems. Typical alarm systems of late, use a fixed line connection between the monitored facility and the monitoring station. In this setup, solid copper phone lines used for telephone communication provide a reliable and reasonably priced conduit for alarm transmission. It has created the longstanding bond between alarm monitoring and telecommunications.
Communication techniques have changed over time, however, offering a choice of alarm transmission methods such as cellular, satellite and both wired and wireless WAN connections. In the event that the telephone lines connecting a monitoring station to a home or business are cut or broken, alarm systems are usually equipped with a failsafe such as radio or cellular back-up. With many consumers turning to VoIP to replace traditional telephone services, wireless communications are increasingly moving from the secondary to the preferred form of communication.
The basic video monitoring system involves surveillance video cameras placed at a site in locations where intrusion, violence, employee pilferage or other such criminal activity may occur. When an alarm is triggered the system will automatically dial the central station and begin streaming live video of the scene.
With visual verification, intruders, employee misconduct and criminal or unauthorized activities can be accurately categorized and appropriate action taken. The resulting elimination of unnecessary police or security guard intervention equates to dollars saved and higher priority when response is required. The savings related to improved site management that can come from video monitoring alone often result in significant return on investment. Random video tours can give information on employee activity with evidential video of incidents. Maintenance personnel can be monitored for timeliness and productivity. Situations such as unsecured doors, wasted utilities and unauthorized visitors can all be documented and corrected.
Employee pilferage runs the gamut from paper clips to computer chips. Despite increasingly sophisticated employee screening services, no business is exempt from pilferage and sweetheart sales. A logical sequence of scheduled video tours can be conducted by the central monitoring station at appointed intervals. The awareness alone among employees that they are being visually monitored from time to time is often an effective deterrent to theft.