Declining budgets are forcing sheriffs and police departments to adopt technology as a “force multiplier” in their battle against crime. Affordable technology, not more officers, is the answer; in fact, over the past three decades video has become law enforcement’s single most important technology tool for fighting crime and millions of cameras have been installed to improve community safety.
The affordable video revolution is finally reaching the alarm industry — and video verification by the central station is a paradigm shift in commercial alarm systems for business customers large and small. A video verified alarm is reviewed immediately by the central station operator and this “eye witness dispatch” receives priority response from law enforcement.
In Grand Prairie, Texas, for example, this means that officers arrive at the premises in less than two minutes instead of fifteen for a typical alarm. Faster response means more arrests and fewer losses. Monitored video alarms also mean fewer false alarm fines that are becoming increasingly expensive to the bottom line.
Impact on the Retail Market
Monitored video has been around for decades and nowhere more so than in the large national retailers who have already deployed thousands of cameras to monitor store operations. A leading drugstore chain, for example, has integrated its alarm systems with surveillance cameras in more than 4,000 individual stores to deliver faster police response in the event of a burglary. The nationwide pharmacy retail chain monitors its own security systems from an internal central station that combines the alarms/cameras into a single system for operators.
For retailers unwilling or unable to create their own central station, specialized video monitoring partners have made video verification possible; however, until recently, video verification has simply been too expensive to be a mainstream alarm function — especially for small commercial applications.
Specialty video monitoring companies that have provided the service generally charged a premium price beyond what most small businesses could afford —that is changing; in fact, it already has.
Declining hardware costs and important evolutions in central station automation have altered the security landscape. Inexpensive video cameras are now everywhere — in smartphones, laptops, iPods, car bumpers and now they are being included in wireless alarm sensors. While CCTV cameras have become less expensive, monitoring solutions at the central station have also improved to the point that monitoring a standard video alarm system no longer requires a dedicated team of operators trained in all the details of DVRs and pan/tilt/zoom. The new video alarm solutions are cost effective and able to scale because they are monitored by the normal central station operators and have become a “normal alarm.”
Inexpensive hardware and cost-effective monitoring options mean that video verified alarms are moving mainstream — affordable to the typical small business. The hardware/installation costs of a video alarm are now nearly comparable with a traditional system as the various components are now wireless and battery-powered for easy installation and no Ethernet or power cords.
National companies like Stanley, Protection 1 and Diebold have positioned verified alarms as a standard commercial solution instead of an expensive niche offering. It is more than affordability, the real driving force behind commercial customers embracing video verified alarms is priority police response and greater security — they want the best response possible and verified alarm deliver police.