While intruder detection offers a high level of security for businesses and organisations, nuisance activations still remain an issue. End users are increasingly looking to enhance the performance of their solutions, and with alarms this includes visual verification. This can be achieved with any professional alarm system by adding the OPTEX Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution.
Video is a great enabling technology, and its pivotal role in a diverse range of applications has grown significantly in recent years. As digitisation has spread throughout the video industry, so the options available have grown, often allowing added value to be introduced to legacy systems. There have also been a number of cases where traditional shortcomings of certain technologies have been eliminated with the addition of video.
OPTEX is a well-established market leader in the field of accurate and reliable detection devices, and as a result understands the benefits and the weaknesses of intruder detection systems. Whilst accurate and reliable detection is achievable, there will still be nuisance activations created by innocuous events. Many of these will be attributable to user error, such as someone entering a protected area without unsetting the system.
While such events are not a failing of the technology, they can lead to a system losing its URN and, as a result, police first response. Operators at an ARC have no way of knowing the cause of an alarm, and if they receive a confirmed activation, it will be passed to the police.
While the concept of visual verification is not new, it hasn’t been as widely embraced by many users because of reasons of cost. Even if a site has a video surveillance system, linking this with a professional graded alarm system isn’t always straightforward. Additionally, where this is done, ARCs often have alarm monitoring and video workstations in different parts of the control room. As a result, many sites miss out on the ability to reduce nuisance activations, along with other benefits which integration with video makes available.
Intelligent visual monitoring
OPTEX has designed its Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution to enable easy integration between video devices and graded alarm systems, enabling ARC operators to carry out visual verification at their alarm workstation. This allows fast confirmation of the cause of an alarm event. The Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution allows intrusion sensors and panic buttons to be linked with local IP cameras. When a detection occurs, images from the linked camera are captured and sent, with the alarm signal, to the ARC, enabling operators to view the cause of an alarm and make a decision as to whether or not the activation should be passed to the police.
The solution uses a network-based hardware Bridge and a cloud-hosted Video Monitoring Portal. The Bridge links the alarm panel with ONVIF compliant cameras or NVRs, which means a wide range of third party video products can be used. The video streams are transmitted to the Visual Monitoring Portal. The Bridge needs to be registered with the ARC and the Visual Monitoring Portal.
When an alarm event is signalled, the ARC operator is notified immediately. Along with the alarm signal data, the Visual Monitoring Portal transmits the live camera view of the zone which has been triggered, along with pre-alarm and post-alarm video recordings. A site map with the location of additional cameras is also sent.
Once an assessment of the alarm has taken place, the ARC operator can either send the alarm to the police for response or, dependent upon agreements with the end user, send the notifications to a key holder who can verify the alarm and instruct the operator on necessary actions. This is done via an App, and the process requires a simple button-press – DISPATCH or DISREGARD – to request the alarm be actioned or to reject it as a nuisance event.
In some cases, it might be an agreed protocol that if the user doesn’t respond within a defined time window, the event will be passed to the police. All interactions are documented in an audit trail, ensuring compliance issues are met.
The Bridge is a small (82 x 100 x 36mm) polycarbonate box which incorporates four alarm input zones and a single trouble output zone. It also supports 10/100 Base-T Ethernet connectivity to link with the video surveillance system. The Bridge incorporates a Micro SDHC memory card slot.
Integrators can design a visual verification system using the Bridge to connect cameras with intrusion sensors. Deployments can be for single or multiple sites, and protection can be extended to both indoor and outdoor areas.
The Bridge easily connects to any alarm panel and the network. It automatically detects cameras or NVRs on the network, allowing sensors or panic buttons in the location to be linked with them.
The Visual Monitoring Portal delivers a platform from which integrators can configure and manage connected devices. Interactive features allow customisation of map views to enable the locations of cameras, sensors and detection overlays to be shown.
All installed cameras, sensors and Bridge devices can be managed remotely, and real-time ‘health monitoring’ statistics are available to ensure the devices are performing as expected.
For end users, the OPTEX Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution is a simple and cost-effective way to add a video element to a monitored alarm system. This enables a full understanding of any alarm situation through visualisation of events, allowing keyholders or security teams to make informed decisions, quickly and safely, when incidents occur.
Standard alarm activations often result in personnel having to go into situations blind, guessing at what actions they might have to take. Therefore, the use of the Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution can help with Duty of Care for staff, and can aid compliance with internal policies.
Because the solution works with existing alarm systems and ONVIF compliant cameras or recorders, it creates a cost-effective upgrade to a complete visual verification system without having to replace existing equipment. This reduces the need for additional capital investment and allows the work to be carried out with virtually no disruption to normal operations.
Installing the OPTEX Bridge and enabling visual verification via the Intelligent Visual Monitoring portal will not affect the integrity of the existing systems, and alarm grading and certification of the system is unchanged, ensuring the retention of police first response.
For sensitive applications, a privacy mode can be enabled. This ensures any human movement inside the building will only be displayed to ARC operators in silhouette form to guarantee privacy.
When the system is armed and an alarm event occurs, the full image is sent to the end user via an SMS message, along with the relevant DISPATCH or DISREGARD prompts. If the alarm is genuine and the user selects the DISPATCH command, the normal police notification protocol is initiated. Only then will ARC operators have access to the full video and be able to forward the uncensored picture to first responders, who can use the image to identify the criminal when arriving at the scene.