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Enhanced Intelligence with Visual Verification

by Benchmark

When considering the deployment of intruder detection systems, often the capabilities of current technology are overlooked, with an attitude which tends to oversimplify what the systems can offer. However, the introduction of video verification not only enhances the available protection, but elevates what were previously ‘reactive’ systems to ones which are proactive.

Intruder detection systems are, on the surface, fairly simple solutions. If motion is sensed in an area which should be secure, an alarm condition is generated. Because of regulations, in a graded system, the detection of motion needs to be confirmed, and the usual way of doing this is to require a sequential verification. This means motion must occur in two zones, thus delivering a sequentially confirmed alarm. Of course, the weakness of this approach is that any sensed motion (whether from a genuine intrusion or a nuisance alarm trigger) is treated equally.

Sequential confirmation was introduced many years ago when the ACPO policy changed. At the time, audio confirmation was prone to issues as operators struggled to differentiate between innocuous sounds and noises created by intruders, and video verification was cost-prohibitive and resulted in alarm systems not being financially viable.

Sequential confirmation was not expensive, easy to achieve, and quick to implement. Since then, costs associated with video have fallen, and communications have moved from the limitations of PSTN to networks and IP-enabled devices. In short, the benefits of visual verification are affordable and easier to implement.

OPTEX has launched its Intelligent Visual Monitoring service which even further simplifies the process of adding video verification, whilst delivering significant benefits for the integrator, the end user and the ARC.

Intelligent Visual Monitoring

The Intelligent Visual Monitoring service makes use of a hardware bridge which connects existing intruder alarm systems with legacy or new cameras. When an OPTEX sensor is triggered, the alarm signal is sent to the ARC. The Bridge also collects video data from a linked camera, and this is sent to the cloud-based server via a secure network connection.

When the ARC operator responds to the alarm, the Visual Monitoring Portal opens, displaying the footage from the alarm event. The operator can also view the live video feed to assess the status in real-time.

If further verification is required (and based upon agreements with the end user), the ARC operator can send an SMS message to an authorised person or keyholder, using the cloud service.  The text will include a URL which allows them to remotely view the footage on a mobile device. They can also select one of two options: DISPATCH or DISREGARD. The ARC operator receives a real-time notification when they have viewed the video and responded.

Benefits for the Integrator

OPTEX Intelligent Visual Monitoring allows integrators to deliver a more secure and flexible solution to their customers, offering an expanded service which enables them to filter nuisance activations. Because much of the service is cloud-based, the installation is simple. The required hardware is the OPTEX Visual Verification Bridge which links legacy or new cameras to the alarm panel.

Set up and connection to any professional intruder alarm control panel is easy and intuitive. It allows linking of indoor and outdoor intrusion sensors, door contacts and panic buttons with ONVIF-compliant cameras or DVRs. Once this is done, it is straightforward to ‘map’ the alarm zones to associated cameras.

Once installed, the Bridge is registered to the ARC and connected to the Intelligent Visual Monitoring portal. The ARC provides the integrator with a dedicated account on the portal, allowing the creation of customer accounts and registration of additional Bridge devices.

The web-based portal delivers a platform to manage all connected systems. Interactive elements allow customisation of site details with map views showing the location of cameras, sensors and detection fields. All devices can be managed remotely. Alarm zones and sensors are supported by real-time health monitoring, creating reports which show the system is operating correctly.

Benefits for End Users

For end users, the OPTEX Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution ensures that all alarm activations can be verified, either by the ARC, the user themselves, or both parties. Where an alarm system is graded to receive a URN (unique reference number, essential for the provision of police first response), the system ensures that sites do not have first response cover removed due to false activations.

As an example, one of the most significant causes of false activations is human error. A member of staff locking up at night remembers they’ve left something in the staff room, or spots they haven’t turned an appliance off. Rather than allow the system to set, and then unset it to carry out the task, they try to beat the time-out function. While this isn’t what would typically be considered a false alarm, in that the system detected human motion, the police do count it as such.

Another issue is the incorrect use of panic buttons. If staff at a business or organisation are not au fait with ACPO regulations, they might not understand when the use of a panic alarm might be classed as a false alarm. For example, using the PA to summon police during an incident which is not an act of aggression or threatening towards the user can be ruled as a false alarm.

By implementing Intelligent Visual Monitoring, such instances can be disregarded when the video is viewed by the end user. The alarm event is not passed to the police, and a ‘strike’ against the system is not issued. As many insurance policies for businesses include a requirement for police first response, the return on investment of Intelligent Visual Monitoring can be measured in terms of discounted insurance premiums, continued cover, and the removal of a need to upgrade systems to be reinstated to first response cover.

Where a business or organisation has multiple satellite sites, a user can manage activations at all sites because the Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution can be installed across multiple sites sharing the same network.

Benefits for the ARC

At a time when professional security solutions are facing challenges from the world of IoT and consumer-centric technology, building in added-value is imperative when providing service-based solutions. As a growing number of end customers appreciate and value the power of video, so they are demanding it in a growing number of applications.  Given the strong business case for video verification, it makes sense to ensure this capability is available in a cost-effective and easy-to-use format.

The OPTEX Intelligent Visual Monitoring is a simple a solution which delivers added value without compromising on security or system integrity.

When an alarm zone is triggered, the ARC operator is alerted in a few seconds. The Intelligent Visual Monitoring portal presents both pre- and post-event video recordings, the live view of the zone in which the alarm has been triggered, and a site map showing the location of additional cameras, which can be used to view other parts of the site.

Dependent upon the agreed procedure between the customer and the ARC, and the assessment of the alarm situation, the ARC operator can either pass the alarm to the police for action, or push the notification to an authorised key holder or emergency contact for them to verify the alarm and instruct the operator accordingly. All interactions are documented in an audit trail.

In summary

Visual confirmation offers a wide range of benefits, and the cloud-based element of the OPTEX Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution allows a greater degree of filtering when alarm incidents occur. Cost-effective and simple to implement, it changes intruder detection systems from being reactive to proactive, while also increasing long-term security for the user.

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