How to Profit From Migrating to Video-Verified Alarm Solutions
Reducing false alarms, providing enhanced real-time information to monitoring centers and responders, and RMR are all reasons for dealers to deliver video verification.
The benefits of video-verified alarm response are pretty self-evident. Seeing, as the saying goes, is believing. For the security industry, this capability can be a game-changing one, particularly from the perspective of law enforcement.
The whole point of video-verified alarms, contends Kevin McCarthy, national sales manager for central monitoring station EMERgency24, is to eliminate unneeded dispatches.
“There are countless situations, but with video, we are able to gather more information and can then act on that information, ideally, dispatching only when truly needed,” he says.“When our monitors review video, they are making a threat assessment by looking for indications of possible criminal activity. When there is clear and evident indication that there is a crime in progress — or one has already happened — they are trained to immediately make the PSAP [public safety answering point] notification call and request dispatch, sharing what they have gleaned from the video.”
Video-verified alarms dramatically simplify central station operator processing time and procedures by eliminating unnecessary phone calls, allowing for immediate dispatch of authorities with concrete evidence of wrongdoing, adds Chris Brown, vice president of central stations and guard force divisions for alarm monitoring software provider SureView Systems.
The technology creates a high-priority response, as well as a more informed response, he says. Larry Folsom, president of video verification specialist I-View Now, agrees.
“Video-verified alarms provide better information. It’s imperative to get it to the end user’s monitoring center operator and law enforcement to reduce the false alarm rate.”
Better information, he reasons, translates into better choices. Let’s take a closer look at how security providers can profit from migrating to video-verified alarm solutions, while also furthering the fight against false alarms and lending law enforcement a hand in alarm response.
Educating on Video Verification
Though the advantages of video-verified alarm notification are quite clear, old habits die hard. The migration from traditional alarm notification to video verified may take some time — for dealers and end users alike. Brown can attest to that.
“Since 2000, we’ve been working with the industry to improve security through video solutions,” he says. “Education to both dealers and consumers is a constant effort — particularly as technology has evolved over the years to off er the customer many different options on how to use video as a deterrent technology rather than simply an evidence-gathering technology.”
As an integrator selling direct to end users, Stanley Security has focused marketing efforts on end users who may have only been exposed to traditional alarm systems, Director of Technology & Product Management Rich Mellott says.
These users are typically not aware of deprioritized police response associated with traditional alarms and may also not be aware of the real, tangible benefits of verification such as increased apprehensions and better utilization of limited police resources.
While traditional alarm systems can be effective in identifying human presence within a protected area, they can’t provide any information about a crime in progress, for instance, Mellott notes.
“In the vast majority of alarm situations, the people who trip alarms have no criminal intent. Most of them are associated with the monitored property in some way and have a valid reason to be at the location,” he says. “Video systems can detect and confirm the presence of human beings, but cannot discern the intent of the individuals. Video verification involves professional monitoring to review video information and assess the likelihood of criminal activity — and only engage law enforcement when the likelihood of criminal activity is high.”
Stanley has found that sharing actual customer success stories in the form of case studies has been the most impactful in the way of increasing awareness, Mellott says.
ADT has developed extensive materials and training plans to explain video verification to its own employees, says CIO Don Young. Team members are then able to talk with the customers about how verification is a natural extension of the camera systems that are so popular for security, he says.
The company has partnered with I-View-Now to offer a nearly seamless upgrade of many existing video systems to video verification systems, according to Young. One of the key requirements is connectivity, quickly followed by bandwidth and reliability, he states.
“We’ve developed software and processes to verify the status of the customer site, and simplify the addition of verification services. A number of our existing systems don’t even require a technician visit.”
RMR Is an Attractive Result
As with any security application, the potential for increased RMR is always a good catalyst for dealers. The potential for increased RMR with video verification is enormous, according to SureView Systems’ Brown, but is also tied directly to the level of video services that a dealer is offering.
Simple video verification on an intrusion alarm can net the dealer a few more dollars a month, he estimates, which can really add up for some companies.
“If that dealer has 5,000 accounts that upgrade to video verification then they have a very lucrative business model based on volume. If that dealer is a commercial integrator with fewer, but larger accounts with more cameras, etc., then they may be able to build a more complete video services solution to include analytics, virtual guard patrols, video escort or supervision services as well as visitor management,” Brown says. “When you put any combination of those services together across a number of devices then your RMR potential for a single location is tremendous, and you also have a very successful business model without requiring a high volume of customers. The trick is for the dealer to find that sweet spot somewhere in the middle that they can sell and implement to new and existing customers,” he adds.
Stanley Security’s Mellott points out that because law enforcement response is the primary value offered to consumers of security monitoring services, any upgrade that can be linked to improvements in that area creates additional value for consumers — which translates into opportunities for increased RMR.
“As the priority of law enforcement response becomes increasingly tied to alarm verification solutions, upgrades to video verification will command higher price points as a premium monitoring service,” he says.
Path to Adopting & Upgrading
We’re just starting to see big companies like ADT adopt these technologies, notes I-View-Now’s Folsom. His take is that if you’ve priced it right and explain the benefits to the end user, they will buy it.
He reports that I-View Now has a high closing rate and offers online training, so if a dealer joins their program, the company has a go-to-market strategy to support them. With companies like ADT including this type of service, Folsom foresees a dramatic acceleration in adoption.
Fortunately, says Brown, “Most systems are easily upgraded,” he says. “As to what that upgrade entails is entirely up to the security needs of that particular environment. For some environments, particularly those susceptible to quick smash-and-grab-type crimes, simply adding cameras for video verification may not be enough. A more proactive, deterrent measure may be required to thwart or deescalate incidents, such as talk-down audio or the ability to sound a siren or turn on a strobe light.”
Mellott adds that there are ways dealers can provide a customer video alarm verification without having to tear out their existing video system:
- If the customer has an analog system an IP encoder can be added to the existing system via looping the video
- A hybrid recorder can be used to connect the analog cameras and add more IP models where extra clarity and resolution of the scene are required
- Zone-specific standalone cameras can be deployed to cover ingress and egress points of a property
- Enlist verification solutions’ third-party integrations and compatibility with many manufacturers of existing deployments.
Where Are We Headed?
There are significant differences in the false alarm rates of customer locations with video verification vs. those without it, ADT’s Young notes. Law enforcement has made it clear that verification is an important service that security companies provide, and would like to continue to see improvements in the technology and the ability to send them more information.
Video verification can provide evidence for convictions, descriptions of the perpetrators, faster response times and most importantly, situational information for law enforcement to help keep their officers safe, Young adds. Brown thinks the industry is definitely trending toward establishing verified video as a preferred alarm notification technology.
“I don’t know if video-verified alarms will be the only accepted technology, but there is not a better solution available to-day,” he asserts. It’s incumbent on the industry to come together as a whole to educate on the benefits of video-verified alarm response and encourage its adoption, Brown adds. “There have been efforts to make this a reality, although they have been slow to develop into something like a set of standards,” he says. “I think we are getting closer to that reality.”
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