Digital Video: The Time Is Now - A Bank Robbery Scenario

Why digital video can help in creating a faster response to a robbery through digital distribution of images


Consider this scenario: Intruders enter a banking operation and fire one shot in the ceiling, paralyzing bank customers and employees with fear. At gunpoint, the robbers demand money from a teller, bag it and then quickly flee the scene.

This is not an uncommon scenario; bank robberies occur fairly often across the country. But what's different this time is that this bank has installed digital video recorders, which are revolutionizing the speed at which suspect images can be transmitted to law enforcement.

Within 10 minutes of the robbery, the police have received and disseminated images of the perpetrators, transmitted to them via e-mail from bank security.

This example illustrates just one of the advantages of digital video systems and why they are generating such excitement in the security industry. The systems bring new capabilities not feasible with analog VCR monitoring, including new management uses, remote video monitoring and networking capabilities.

Key Differences Between Digital Systems and VCRs

There are several key differences between digital units and VCRs that spell significant advantages for DVR users. Digital systems come in a wide range of types and prices, with units to suit the varying needs of small and large businesses. By consulting a security systems integrator with DVR knowledge and expertise, a business owner can determine the system that is right for his or her particular organization.

The most notable difference between the DVR and the VCR is the medium used for recording images. VCRs record images on magnetic videotapes, while digital systems use DVDs, computer hard drives or digital audiotapes. This has major implications in terms of image quality, ease of information retrieval, image transmission speed and remote monitoring capabilities.

For instance, in the abovementioned bank robbery, the scenario for getting suspect images to police would have been quite different had the bank used a VCR. Bank security officials would have first needed to copy the tape before turning it over to police'a task that is usually outsourced and can take up to 24 hours. The bank would then need to physically turn the tape over to police, adding transportation time.

In contrast, even if the bank in our scenario had not had the capability to e-mail the images directly to police, security personnel could have quickly copied them onto a CD and sent it out right away. And considering the fact that many law enforcement agencies now have wireless computer networking in patrol cars, digital video can actually be streamed to officers in the field. This time savings in image transmission can be critical to law enforcement's ability to apprehend a suspect and is an important tool not available with VCRs.

Other important differences between digital units and VCRs include faster image retrieval, better image quality and increased storage capability. Also, and perhaps most significant, the remote video monitoring and networking capabilities available with DVRs open many new doors for business operators.

Remote Video Monitoring

Because digital video can be accessed over the Internet, security personnel can virtually step into a company location thousands of miles away and remotely monitor the site. By simply using an Internet browser or application software installed on a computer or laptop, security officers can view live or recorded digital video at a secure IP address from anywhere in the world. Again, digital allows corporate security personnel to avoid the cost and delays incurred when the right videotape must be found and mailed to begin an investigation.

False Alarm Verifications

Remote video monitoring also has other applications, one of the most notable being alarm verification to prevent false alarm responses by the police. New requirements for alarm verification are sweeping the country. Because of the staggering number of false alarms (about 98 percent, on average, are false), some law enforcement agencies have implemented a non-response policy for alarms that are not visually verified, while others are levying heavy fines for alarms that frequently sound off accidentally. Law enforcement complains that the false alarms waste time and money and also make officers complacent regarding what could actually be an emergency.

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