False alarms mean that valuable resources, which should be available to tackle real crimes, are tied up in unnecessary and futile time-wasting exercises. The result is increased frustration levels, a possible delay in reacting to actual events and increased operational expenses.
When a standard PIR activates an alarm, it automatically triggers a surveillance camera which records a 10-second video clip and sends it to a central monitoring station for action.
Webber points out that the company operates 150 control rooms countrywide, with each of the operational personnel trained to make an informed decision based on the video clip. The outcome of the video clip survey is that false alarms can be readily and quickly identified, thereby ensuring that appropriate armed response resources are allocated to an event when an alarm is verified as being genuine, or are instructed to stand down in the case of false alarms.
The popularity of video verification has not only grown at a rapid rate in South Africa, but more recently, cross-border clients are seeing the benefits attached to this technology. Video can be transmitted through a number of common avenues, including IP network routers and GPRS.
More than security
By integrating video verification into other technologies, controllers are equipped to make educated decisions. An example Webber cites is that of a perimeter fence equipped with a vibration sensor. When a person climbs onto the fence, an alert is sent to the control room. Traditionally, a security officer then has to walk along the fence line until he determines what has activated the sensor.
Integrating of an outdoor video surveillance camera with the vibration sensor means that the camera can be automatically activated to run a video clip and send it immediately to the control room when the sensor is activated. The operational personnel can then decide if the alarm is genuine or not and in instances where there is a breach in security, it will allow the controllers to determine the appropriate number of security personnel and the correct level of response, suitable in that scenario.
Various solutions
Firstly, there is PIR/camera integration, with a snapshot relayed to the control room, while another system allows the end user to view the camera images on a mobile or desktop device, with replication of the image occurring in a control room.
In all instances, permissions are set up in advance to allow control room personnel to access the camera feed when an alarm is triggered during an active armed phase, or by pressing a panic button on the premises. By limiting remote control room viewing to permissible events, homeowner privacy is ensured.
In addition, the homeowner can set up the system to allow the authorisation of specific parameters in terms of areas of coverage. For instance, any viewing of bedrooms and pool areas could be disallowed. “End users need to understand that there is the risk of privacy invasion and conversely, where zones are disallowed, there is the risk of a valid event not being adequately covered. It is therefore important to reach agreement on areas of compromise in terms of privacy versus and personal safety and security,” says Fourie.
Video verification not only reduces costly false alarms, but provides for faster emergency response, enhances personal safety levels, provides more accurate confirmation of emergency status and has been proven to increase the apprehension of suspects.