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OPTEX Bridge

by Benchmark

Increasingly, visual verification of events and incidents is a sought-after function. While sequential confirmation has its place, the reality is that video delivers information which provides a higher degree of certainty as to what has caused an alarm event. For sites which don’t have the budget to implement a full video surveillance system to link to intruder alarms, the OPTEX Bridge, powered by CHeKT, offers a cost-effective solution.

Ever since the demand grew for verified alarm activations, integrators and installers have had two credible choices: visual verification or sequential verification. The use of audio as a verification tool was called into doubt many years, and even now it remains an option few would consider. It has to be remembered that the goal of verification is to allow a remote operator, who will usually not be familiar with the site, to assess whether or not an alarm is genuine or a nuisance event.

In the intruder alarm sector, sequential verification became established as the first choice, not because it was better than visual verification, but because it was more cost-effective and simpler to implement. At the time, video was predominantly analogue, and creating a seamless integration with intruder alarms was costly and time-consuming.

In today’s security sector, visual verification is not only simple to implement, but it also allows the creation of smarter solutions. However, it is often dependent upon the implementation of a digital video surveillance system. While there is no doubting the flexibility and scalability available from VMS software, integrators and installers are often constrained by budgetary considerations.

Where an end user has limited funds, they will typically opt for an intruder alarm system as it represents a good level of protection in a cost-effective package. While many intruder detection systems allow the addition of video cameras, these are usually viewed by the user, via an app, and are designed for either self-monitoring or for life-style applications.

The issue is where a commercial or industrial business or organisation requires a graded alarm system, along with visual verification which can be used by a (often third party) control room or monitoring centre.

OPTEX offers a solution in the form of its OPTEX Bridge powered by CHeKT.

What is it?

The OPTEX Bridge powered by CHeKT is a data bridge which can be connected to zones on any professional quality intruder detection control panel. It is effectively ‘invisible’ to the alarm system. It also connects to ONVIF Profile S-compatible cameras, allowing images from zones in alarm to be sent to an ARC or central control room when an event takes place.

By bridging the two separate systems, it allows an intruder detection system to be supplemented by a single camera, a basic video surveillance system or a combination of devices, ensuring legacy equipment can be reused and cost-effective upgrades are always possible.

The OPTEX Bridge powered by CHeKT also includes a cloud service which enables interaction between the site, the ARC and the user.

Installation of the Bridge is claimed to be quick and easy. It requires looping of the zone wiring through the bridge hardware device. The next step is to add an ONVIF Profile S-compatible camera, and this is then linked to the relevant zone. There is no need for port forwarding or firewall configurations, and mapping between alarm panel zones and video devices has been designed to be intuitive.

Because the Bridge is used for visual verification rather than monitoring, transmission of data is quick and simple. This ensures the delivery of relevant images do not cause a delay in the handling of alarm events. There is also an option for a designated user to receive the images, allowing them to accept or reject an event cause.

How does it work?

When an alarm activation occurs, the alarm data is sent to the ARC or control room as normal. The ARC operator can then view the associated images, via a cloud portal, within a matter of seconds. It is important to note that ARCs will not require additional software or dedicated hardware to do this. They will then be presented with images which show the cause of the event.

Based on the visual verification, they can either action a police response or close the alarm.

It has to be accepted that whilst visual verification is significantly more effective than sequential verification, it’s not always perfect. If the operator is unsure as to whether or not the alarm event is valid, they can access video devices at the site via a monitoring portal if authorised to do so.

If there remains any doubt about the validity of an event, the operator can push the images and alarm data to the user, via an app. The operator receives a real-time notification if the user is viewing the information. This allows them to wait when they’re aware the images are being viewed. If there is no response from the user, they can proceed with passing the alarm to the police.

When the user receives and views the images, they can then, via a single button press on their smart device, send a message to the ARC to either action the alarm or it clear it down.

Features and functions

The actual Bridge hardware is a small device, measuring approximately 82 x 100 x 36mm. The unit supports four alarm input zones and one trouble output. It includes a 10/100Base T LAN port and is powered by a 12V DC source.

Manufactured from white polycarbonate, the device also includes an SDHC card slot and an audio output. LEDs are used for status updates (indicating power, status and alarm condition).

The Bridge can be wired for zone pass-through or relay output, offering a range of options to suit various panels and sites.

In summary

OPTEX Bridge powered by CHeKT allows any professional intruder alarm panel to be upgraded to deliver monitored visual verification, quickly and cost-effectively.

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