Making a Case for Video Alarm Verification

The Test: Is your alarm system enough?

When building any business, one of your first and most significant priorities as an owner is to outline how to most effectively protect it.

At the most basic level, this means that your security goals can seem shockingly simple. You want to secure your inventory, property and any valuable equipment on the premises. You’re focused on keeping staff and patrons safe. To the best of your ability, you want to deter would-be intruders from targeting and, ultimately, disrupting your business. And in the event that a break-in does occur, you want to know exactly what happened and how it happened so you can prevent any reoccurrence. You want concrete evidence against the criminals responsible. You also want to make sure they’re apprehended in a timely manner with minimal damage to your assets .

Keep intruders from entering your business. Quickly apprehend any that manage to break in. Secure all business assets. Continue conducting business as usual. Seems straightforward, right?

The answer to that question – and how successful you’re likely to be in achieving your basic security goals – boils down to the strength of your business alarm system. A traditional alarm system acts as the chief building block in forming a responsive security plan. However, it can’t be your only line of defense against intrusion.

For instance, let’s say that you install an alarm system for your business. One night, it’s well after hours when no personnel are supposed to be present in the building. Then, the alarm is triggered. This has happened only a few times at your location before. Once, when a tree branch fell during a thunderstorm and broke a window in the storage area, the alarm sounded. And on another evening, an employee returned to retrieve her purse after the alarm system had already been armed. That night, she couldn’t remember the authorization code in enough time to cancel the alarm before alerting authorities. In both incidents, law enforcement officers were dispatched to the scene, only to find that the alarm had been triggered in error.

So this time, when the alarm is tripped and police are dispatched, it takes nearly 45 minutes for them to respond. This gives intruders – should there be any – more than enough time to ransack your inventory and run off with valuable assets, seemingly undetected. Even with an alarm system in place, you’re can’t guarantee that your business will be protected from future physical damage or considerable profit loss.

When faced with this possibility, you might be wondering, “Why did it take the police so long to get here this time?” The substantial lag in response time is likely due to the fact that your community’s first responders have deprioritized your business’ alarm system. This can be attributed to the two false alarms previously triggered at your location. These act as two strikes against your business’ security measures. While this policy can vary across communities, its core principle largely remains the same.

For every false alarm, your business will eventually be penalized in some way by authorities.

Law enforcement agencies are currently tasked with fewer resources, tighter budgets and an uptick in calls per shift. Therefore, they’re now forced to assign varying degrees of priority to every alert they receive. This is a practice commonly referred to as “priority response.” It’s been found that more than 98% of alarms police are called to respond to prove to be false. That amounts to 38 million false burglar alarms every year, according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Because of this, violent crimes, fires, domestic issues or crimes in progress often shoot to the very top of the priority list for responding officers. Authorities are simply stretched too thin to grant high-priority response to traditional, nonverified alarm systems.

And with the proliferation of burglar alarms in homes and businesses in recent years, police receive that many more calls. Therefore, if a criminal event cannot be immediately verified at your location, police response will be delayed. Otherwise, your business might be fined if the call turns out to be a non-event. In short, traditional alarm systems for businesses are simply not enough.

The model of priority response places a hefty responsibility on business owners to modify their security practices. You’ll be forced to examine your alarm systems and security protocols to ensure your business receives a priority response.

This may bring about a thousand questions: How can I ensure that an alarm at my business will be prioritized by 911 dispatchers? How can I better safeguard my assets or prevent a break-in? How can I get responding officers the information they need to apprehend any perpetrators?

Lucky for you, the answer to each of these questions is simple: Video alarm verification.

Video Alarm Verification: How it works

With advances in technology, alarm verification – and particularly, video alarm verification – has become more popular and more accessible than ever. Adding a video-based verification option to your business alarm system can easily increase priority response by police. This can mean delivering better overall security to your business and increasing the likelihood of apprehending suspects.

How it works is as straightforward as your business’ security goals. An alarm verification system layers on top of your existing alarm system to provide evidence of an event in real-time to an assigned monitoring station. This verification can come in the form of live audio clips, video or both. When the monitoring specialist at the center receives this critical information, he or she immediately alerts you, as the business owner, to the incident as it’s happening. From there, you can determine whether the event is a threat to your business and if police should be dispatched.

If you conclude that a crime is in progress and choose to have law enforcement alerted, the operator can immediately provide them with live video evidence of the event.

Officers are now armed with proof of a break-in at your location and are that much more likely to respond with greater urgency. Your business will fly to very near the top of the police priority response list. For example, most nonverified alarms receive a “Priority 3” response from law enforcement, while video verified alarms receive a “Priority 1” response. The jump in response time between Priority 3 and Priority 1 calls is significant. For instance, a call designated as a Priority 3 won’t see officers arrive at the scene for an average of 45 minutes. That’s more than enough time for a criminal to cause significant damage to your business and escape. By contrast, video verified alarms are typically treated as “in progress” calls. This means that first responders are more likely to arrive at the scene in plenty of time to minimize damage, curb business losses and apprehend the perpetrators.

The Benefits: How video alarm verification can boost your business profile

The benefits of video alarm verification extend well beyond promoting a higher level of priority response. The positive, growing impact that video alarm verification has had on the security industry can directly enhance your business operations. With the right system, elevated priority response is just the beginning.

Take control of your surveillance.

The rise in mobile device usage has created a tectonic shift in the modern world. Today, business owners are able to control nearly every function of their operations from their phone, tablet or laptop. In the age of “self-surveillance,” your business alarm system should be no different.

Most video alarm verification solutions are accompanied by an intuitively designed app. Able to be accessed from most mobile devices, video alarm verification apps offer you an unprecedented way to monitor your locations. Not only will you be able to view the same live video feeds and clips the monitoring station receives during an intrusion event, you now have a 24/7 window into your business operations. Are you a single store owner going out of town for the week? You’ll be able to check in remotely via your video alarm verification app. You can ensure that employees remain productive and safe and take care of the facility. You can keep an eye on traffic patterns, opening and closing procedures and inventory movement.

In addition to securing your assets, the peripheral benefits of having mobile system access allow you to drive efficiencies across your entire business.

Strengthen your partnership with first responders and your community.

Business alarm systems must be built upon a solid relationship with law enforcement in order to be successful. Video alarm verification is a direct way for businesses to communicate respect for police and community resources, by only calling officers to the scene of a crime in progress. It leverages law enforcement services effectively. This means that officers can distribute their manpower to respond to more serious crimes throughout the area and make more apprehensions. The safety of the surrounding community only serves to make your business location more desirable for both employees and customers.

Additionally, video verified alarms align with the growing number of alarm verification statutes and law enforcement policy statements established in recent years. Most of these policies require that one of the following must happen to consider an alarm verified:

• Visible proof of property damage, such as a broken window or forced entry, must be provided through video evidence or by a first-hand witness.
• An alarm monitoring specialist must make two calls to verify the alarm.
• Dispatchers should receive confirmation directly from a security company or internal department, reporting that they have encountered a crime in progress via surveillance or a first-hand account.

Video alarm verification also keeps your business from having to pay mounting false alarm fees.

These fines can grow exponentially with each false alarm incident and are very detrimental to a small- to mid-sized business.

In fact, businesses across the U.S. will pay an average of $900 million in false alarm fees each year. Even worse than fines, too many false alarms could risk landing your business on the “suspended” list. This may prompt no response from police when an alarm sounds.

Alarm verification helps your business to build a rapport with first responders and actively assist in keeping them safe. Operators can provide live video feed and crucial details of the event to officers before they even arrive at the scene. Police can be prepared from the moment they step out of the squad car and formulate an effective response strategy ahead of time.

Are the suspects armed? What part of the building are they in? Is there a getaway car or visible escape route?

While having this information helps police to significantly curb your business losses and “catch the bad guys,” it also reduces the risk of loss of life or injury to first responders. By incorporating alarm verification into your system, your business becomes a beacon of community safety and a trusted law enforcement partner.

Stop wasting money by over-investing in technology that may not fit into your business.

As a small- to mid-sized business owner, you likely don’t have the funds to throw at a dedicated security team or robust video management solution. Your margins are slim, but your assets

are hugely important to your business’ success. You don’t need military-grade hardware or cameras better suited for a federal government building than a regional retailer. You need a system that you and your managers can learn to use easily and access without too much training or required expertise. You need a system that can grow with your business – without blowing your budget.

Thankfully, video alarm verification solutions have hit the commercial mainstream. They’re affordable and often designed with small business owners like you in mind. Developers know that on any given day, you’re the Owner, the CFO and the Director of Security – all rolled into one. Access via the mobile app gives you more control and means less time wasted on employee training. You’re able to interface with each of your locations on a single platform, so the system is virtually future-proof. You can extend into different jurisdictions with different alarm verification policies and be assured that you’ll receive a priority police response during a break-in.

Then, there’s the affordability to consider. The cost of installing a video alarm verification system is often based on the number of cameras you have installed on the premises. As the number of cameras increase, or you launch new locations, the solution can expand. But if you choose, you’ll never have to find room for security guard salaries in your budget, or feel forced into over-investing in technology beyond your means.

Plus, for an additional nominal monthly monitoring service fee, you’ll have the full force of a trusted monitoring station to support you. Feel confident that there are eyes on your business at all times, even when yours can’t be. If there’s an event, you’ll be notified immediately and can act so that your business remains protected. Video alarm verification can do it all for you – at a fraction of the cost.

Achieve peace of mind – and keep your business assets safe.

All in all, video alarm verification helps you to achieve the bedrock security goals outlined at the beginning of this article – and so much more . You can protect your business, your assets and your people. You can promote efficiency across operations. You can be relied upon by law enforcement and boost apprehension rates to establish a safer community. If an intrusion should occur, you can rest easy. You’ll know that both you and first responders will have the evidence necessary to stop and capture the individuals responsible before irreparable damage is caused.

Video alarm verification is quickly becoming the new cornerstone in small business security. It aids in reducing valuable losses and preventing criminal activity – so your business can thrive and you can get right back to work.