Video Verification: An Easy Path to New RMR

June 10, 2014
Augmenting your customer's alarm systems with video will pay dividends

If you are an independent security dealer with a substantial commercial customer base, then Video Verification must be on your menu of products and services. If it’s not, then your bottom line is not as strong as it could be.

Video verification has the potential to add $40 to $50 of recurring monthly revenue (RMR) per month, per alarm system that you have already installed — all without any likely increase in recurring cost. Stated another way, video verification allows you to significantly grow your business just by using your existing customer base.

Here’s one more reason for the independent security dealer to adopt these capabilities: Video verification does not render traditional systems obsolete; rather, those systems — the ones you have spent years selling, installing and maintaining — are now free to evolve seamlessly in ways that benefit you, the end-user and law enforcement. That these existing systems can be easily retrofitted for video verification rather than replaced not only reduces costs and labor commitment on the dealer side, but also such simplicity makes customers more likely to adopt the new technologies. Retrofitting also means minimal upheaval, no new system to learn —all with a tangible increase in security.

How Video Verification Works

In case you’re unfamiliar, video verification is the use of captured or even real-time video in which the footage is aligned with the action that initiated an alarm event. The video of the actual incident is sent to a central monitoring station to determine response protocol for the alarm event. For example, an interior motion sensor is tripped, and the video reveals whether an intruder set if off or it was an accidental trip — an after-hours visit by the proprietor, for instance. In the case of an intruder, a video-verified alarm guarantees a priority response and a greater chance that the intruder will be apprehended at the scene of the crime.

It is a fact that traditional alarm monitoring of the residential home and commercial space works. We know consumers value the technology because of how commonplace it is. We know insurance providers value it because of the incentives they offer to encourage the use of alarm systems. We know the independent security dealer values it because it constitutes such a large slice of their business. If traditional alarm monitoring didn’t work, then none of the above would be true.

That said, with most existing systems there’s no way to assess the nature of the emergency. When an alarm is triggered, local law enforcement is required to respond regardless of whether it was an accidental alarm and regardless of whether or not the property owner has told the central monitoring station that there’s no need for follow-up. Given that 90 percent or more of burglar alarms are false, this means a great deal of squandered time and resources on the law enforcement side, and within police departments a general “cry wolf” regard for traditional alarm systems.

For a long time, there was no economical way to address this unintended consequence. It was part of the “cost of doing business” when it came to implementing traditional alarm systems, and all stakeholders understood that. However, the good news is that technology is — as it always does — changing the game. In this instance, video verification modernizes existing alarm systems and makes them better able to achieve the end goals of preventing theft and apprehending perpetrators.

Telguard’s TG-V2H starter kit, for example, sends a video clip attachment of the actual incident to the central station for immediate review and dispatch (video verification cameras are dormant until they detect motion, so there’s no scrolling through hours of footage). At that point, the central station operator becomes, in essence, an eyewitness who is able to give police the verifiable information they need to initiate a “crime-in-progress” level of response.

The Value to Commercial Customers

For commercial customers, under existing systems, the central station would know nothing more than an alarm has been tripped, and the police would tailor their response to the overwhelming likelihood that they were not faced with a genuine emergency.

The stated duty of law enforcement is of course to serve and protect the citizenry. On a more pragmatic level, though, law-enforcement officers simply want to arrest criminals. Not only does doing so provide them with a sense of vocational accomplishment, but it is also what the “brass” wants. Lofty arrest rates keep a department happy and those they serve confident in their efforts. Video verification-enabled systems help them do that, and considering that according to the FBI, more than 500,000 commercial burglaries take place in the United States each year, there is ample opportunity.

These technological improvements have prompted law enforcement in many towns and cities to promote alarm calls from a Priority 3 response — one in which the incident of interest is deemed to present no significant threat of serious physical injury or major property damage — to a Priority 1 response in which a crime in progress presents a potential threat to life and property. As you may have guessed, classic alarms receive a Level 3 response, while a video-verified alarm is a Level 1. In many jurisdictions, the average Level 3 response time is more than 20 minutes, and the average Level 1 response time is less than five minutes. As you know, customers want the fastest response possible when paying for a monitored solution.

Also relevant is that arrest rates associated with Level 3 responses see a thousand-fold increase over those resulting from Level 1 responses. That’s what distinguishes video verification from even the most advanced, expensive and complex video-surveillance system. Both systems record the crime in progress, but video surveillance, unlike video verification, does not usually play an active role in helping to stop that crime — it is an after-the-fact forensics tool, not a security system.

What You Should Be Offering

Ideally, a security dealer should offer customers an affordable, turnkey video verification system that:

  • Includes a video verification hub and an indoor wireless motion sensor with integrated camera;
  • Works with any security panel so that upgrading existing customers is quick and easy;
  • Can accommodate additional motion sensor cameras should a customer want to increase the video verification system to cover other areas of the business;
  • Comes with a smartphone app so that customers can remotely access cameras and request video clips or snapshot photos; and
  • Is sourced from a provider that can offer video verification at the same cost as traditional alarm monitoring.

The end-result of adding video verification capabilities will be improved security for your customers, better cooperation with law enforcement and, of course, a more profitable business for independent security dealers.

Shawn Welsh is vice president of Marketing and Business Development for Telular. To request more information about the company, please visit