Not all alarm events are treated equal by law enforcement. Here’s a fun fact: The ratio of police to residents in the United States is 1:25. They serve a lot of people and they serve a lot of false alarms. Police departments are usually faced with a question: Who do we prioritize?
Professionally Monitored and Self-Monitored
What’s the difference? If you own a professionally monitored system, you are paying to monitor your house from their monitoring centers. They can see the status of your alarm and sensors and in the event of a break in, they are quickly notified. They in turn review your video feeds from security cameras and verify if there really is an alarm. Once verified, they will call the police to report the situation. FrontPoint, Vivint, ADT, and Protect America are all companies who offer professional monitoring though not all offer video verification.
On the other hand, self-monitored systems give users absolute control of their security systems. The sensors, cameras, and alarms are all hooked up under one network and they can all be monitored from an internet device’s browser or an app. The user has the responsibility to monitor his own house. He is also the one responsible for calling the police.
Some believe that in the short future, professionally monitored security systems will be replaced by self-monitored systems. Self-monitored systems are cheaper in the long run and much more convenient for the lives of many. But there’s a reason why I believe that professionally monitored security systems will remain longer... Video Verification.
What is Video Verification? Simply, Video Verification is a process done in Emergency Monitoring Centers. After receiving an alarm, they consider 3 things:
1. Is there a discernible video?
2. Does the video show that there is any suspicious human activity corresponding the time of the alarm, or signs showing that there might have been a break-in, like broken windows?
3. Is there a clear reason to believe that a crime took place, is taking place, or about to take place?
If the answer to all 3 is yes, then the video is verified. An operator immediately relays all known details to the police and an immediate dispatch is expected.
It seems simple, but it can get complicated. What if there’s no discernible video? Or if there seems to be no signs of activity in alignment with the time of the alarm? Or what if video shows no immediate threat? The operators in the Emergency Monitoring Centers are trained to handle such cases, and in that way, they are helping the police to prioritize dispatch.
Why Video Verification Matters?
Most cities in the US requires an alarm permit to avoid false alarm calls, but the police cannot control the amount of false alarms coming from self-monitored system users. There is a ton of resource drain responding to false alarms. On top of that, real alarms are sometimes ignored or are not quickly responded to, resulting to damages and even loss of life. The police formulated a solution, which involves Video Verification.
A partnership website made up of members from Law Enforcement, Insurance Industry and the Electronic Security Industry, called Partnership for Priority—Verified Alarm Response, had this to say about Video Verification: “ Although we remain committed to traditional alarm response methods as a deterrent to crime, we consider video verification to be a significant enhancement and one that deserves a higher priority response by all first responders.”
Although we remain committed to traditional alarm response methods as a deterrent to crime, we consider video verification to be a significant enhancement and one that deserves a higher priority response by all first responders.
Basically, they've readjusted their priorities. When an Emergency Monitoring Center calls the police to say that an alert was sent to them with verified video, the police push that event to the top and respond to it with the same priority as they respond to a crime in progress. With that said, we can conclude that professionally monitored security systems get you the help you need quicker than self-monitored systems, especially if there’s video verification.
But not all companies who offer professional monitoring provide video verification. So here’s one quick tip: Get professional monitoring from companies who are already “friends” with the police. They are the companies who are reputable and are known to give the police accurate video verification. Companies such as Frontpoint, ADT, and Protect America are examples of reputable security companies.