How USA Central Leverages AI to Become a Tech ‘Marvel’
Monitored video surveillance in of itself isn’t necessarily enough to combat false alarms. Find out why this year’s Monitoring Technology Marvel Award winners believe they have the answer.
Bart Didden has long been recognized as an outspoken maverick in how he runs his business and in advocating and crusading for important industry causes and opportunities. Serving as president of wholesale third-party monitoring company USA Central Station since 1982, in 2002 he was honored with the NBFAA’s (now ESA) Morris F. Weinstock Person of the Year Award and in 2008 he was elected to the SSI Industry Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement.
An endorser of high industry standards of professionalism and customer service for more than 40 years, Didden has championed the industry maintaining level playing fields, encouraging competition and lowering artificial entry barriers.
A past NBFAA president and board member for AIREF, CSAA (now TMA) and SIA, he led the charge to unify the trade associations and provide industry-specific insurance via the launch of the Security America Risk Retention Group.
Whether it comes to the business or technology of security systems and monitoring, Didden has always been a forward-thinker. At the time of his Hall induction, more than 14 years ago, he said, “We are in the middle of the most dynamic change in the history of the alarm industry. It has changed more in the past 30 years than the 120 before that, and we are just in the middle of wherever it is we are going.”
It was against that backdrop that the Port Chester, N.Y.-headquartered USA Central Station became one of the early evangelists and adopters of video-based technologies and services — offering those solutions as a recurring revenue opportunity to the monitoring firm’s large base of alarm dealer customers. More recently, the company aligned with Sentry AI to apply artificial intelligence to situational awareness — thereby filtering out false alarms and enhancing USA’s video services.
The success of that partnership impressed judges enough to name the companies recipients of 2022’s TMA/SSI Monitoring Technology Marvel Award — a program jointly organized by The Monitoring Association and Security Sales & Integration.
The objective of the Marvel is to provide recognition for monitoring centers creating and/or using cutting-edge technology, and to raise awareness of these new technologies. A new wrinkle in the program for this year was including manufacturers/vendors to share in the award with the winning central station. Past Marvel winners include ADT, Affiliated Monitoring, CPI Security and NMC.
Find out more about what makes Sentry AI unique as well as USA Central Station’s approach to technology, monitoring and more.
Bidding False Alarms Adieu
One of the biggest challenges for outdoor video monitoring is false alerts. Most of the time, alarms that come to monitoring centers are triggered by weather, shadows, trees or animals. Monitoring these false alarms is inefficient and costly. Monitoring agents spend too much time filtering these false alarms that distract them from critical events, cause fatigue and lead to poor job satisfaction.
Sentry AI’s filtering application of AI to situational awareness provides an answer. With these offerings, customers have no need to upgrade cameras or install any additional hardware or software. Dealers are supported jointly by USA Central Station and Sentry AI to connect their cameras and onboard end-user accounts. During a free trial period, the Sentry AI system self-tunes the algorithms based on the camera field of view, and customer service personnel monitor to ensure optimized performance settings.
USA Central Station and security dealers can also access the filtered alarms, camera live view, arm/disarm the system and view reports/analytics from the Sentry AI portal and mobile app. Additionally, Sentry AI has set up a system check mechanism among cameras — Sentry AI Cloud — that is integrated with USA Central Station automation software to inform of any system failure.
“What makes this solution superior to any others is that it not only provides intrusion detection capabilities, but also person recognition, LPR [license plate recognition], loitering, camera health check and other safety features,” says Sentry AI’s Hien Nguyen.
Harnessing Video’s Full Power
The joint solution has proved its value and has been well-received by USA Central Station customers. It helps reduce more than 50% of the monitoring costs and allows agents more time to handle critical events. Reducing labor costs to handle false alarms helps increase profitability, with the potential to pass some value to customers through price discounts.
Customer satisfaction is enhanced as they can receive alarms directly on their mobile app. While the total number of security cameras installed worldwide has been exploding over time, only 5% of 400 million cameras installed are actively monitored. This is a huge business opportunity for monitoring centers to take advantage of the latest technology breakthroughs to increase their RMR.
By introducing Sentry AI’s state-of-the-art video monitoring offering, USA Central Station makes the monitoring service feasible for the accounts that were earlier “impossible to monitor” now possible to monitor at a reasonable price.
“Many dealers were reluctant to provide the video service before. Now, this solution helps them gain the confidence that they can provide monitoring service efficiently and effectively while significantly increasing their RMR,” adds Nguyen.
3 Reasons Why Dealers Love It
The solution has been very well-received by USA Central Station’s security dealer customers. Here are three reasons why:
Ease of onboarding and scaling up the service: Security dealers can offer their customers a free trial and can start with any number of cameras. USA Central Station and Sentry AI collaboratively assist dealers on all the onboarding and configuring camera settings to make it easy for them. Security as a service (SaaS) models make it easy for dealers to manage their customer billings, as well as start and stop the service anytime without any hassle.
Proven effectiveness: All cameras are monitored in real-time efficiently by AI and monitoring agents to prevent and neutralize any security threats.
Ease of ongoing management: Security dealers can use the USA Dealer Web portal to manage customer alarms, Sentry AI’s mobile app for receiving alarms and taking appropriate action, and Sentry AI’s portal for camera settings, scene masking, scheduling and insightful analytics reports.
Proven in Real-World Scenarios
The solution reduces false dispatch with two layers of monitoring: AI and agents. Consider the following actual case study. Over a month’s time, a nine-camera residential account in Connecticut with service to monitor from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. generated 31,430 alarm signals, a highly inflated total due to snowy weather in the area.
The Sentry AI technology successfully filtered out the vast majority of the alarms as false alerts, permitting only 16 to be sent out during the period. That process reduced the load for monitoring agents by 99.95%!
As another example, a dealer in California has been using the Sentry AI video monitoring system to provide security service at nighttime for a client. The property is a warehouse with a broad field of view of its entrance, parking lot and is surrounded by trees. Before using the USA/Sentry AI service, though the site was being virtually monitored, the dealer was overwhelmed by the number of false alarms and could not identify the real ones when they actually happened. Meanwhile there were many incidents of cars being burgled.
After the dealer switched to USA/Sentry AI, one night a burglar was trying to break into a car on the property. Although it was really dark, the solution was able to identify human presence and immediately triggered the intrusion alarm. The dealer received the alarm on his phone and quickly called law enforcement. Police arrived shortly and caught the thief red-handed! News spread widely that the property is well-protected, and thieves in the area have avoided burgling the property since then. This has all but eliminated crime at the warehouse.
A Future With Better Monitoring and Response
The USA Central Station/Sentry AI solution fundamentally changes the job of a monitoring guard. Now instead of monotonously staring at video feeds and reporting damage after the fact, personnel can spend time on critical events, interacting with customers and law enforcement to prevent crime.
The solution is also improving the efficiency of law enforcement. Today, 68% of police dispatches are due to customers not answering when the monitoring center calls. Receiving the alarms through the mobile app allows end users to immediately abort the alarm from anywhere in the world, saving time for both the monitoring agent as well as law enforcement.
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