Canadian Security Magazine

Extending alarm effectiveness with video surveillance

By Mark S. Wilson   


Security integrators can help their customers extend the effectiveness of their users’ burglar alarms by integrating them with their surveillance systems.

Many customers want to have video integrated with their burglar alarm system so that, if a door opens when it should be closed, motion detectors register the event and prompt the video system to capture images near that door.  An alarm is sent to the on-site security team, directing them to view the cameras covering that area to investigate what’s going on.

With such an integration, surveillance cameras record intrusions based on forced entries or detected motion. Alarm notifications can be handled directly by the people manning the monitoring station as they can visually see the intruder, reducing false alarms and increasing authority response time. In addition, there is now a forensic record to provide law enforcement.

Upon being notified of a problem, a small business owner can be notified by phone and log onto his/her home computer or laptop to verify what is happening.  At larger facilities, the security guard responding to a break-in can view the affected area on his hand-held smart phone in real time as he’s responding to the alarm.

Such integrations relieve the burglar alarm system of its most glaring weakness – anti-theft alarm systems are likely to have high false positive rates. Through the use of mobile devices, alarm monitoring integration solutions can quickly determine the authenticity of the alarm, capturing real-time alerts, and use multimedia mobile phone video clips, sent directly to security guards’ mobile phones. As a result, users can efficiently reduce the incidence of false positives because guards and other authorized individuals can immediately view the alarm scene to determine if there is a real security threat or not.  Perhaps the alarm is real or was simply caused by an animal or wind.


Installation is simple
In its most elementary form, it is quite easy to integrate alarm systems with video systems. One simply connects the I/O boxes to the surveillance DVR via a USB or a cable of choice.  Then, connect the dry contacts, smoke sensors, heat sensors and other alarm sensors to the I/O box inputs. In the surveillance software, arrange that the alarm input from an IO device will alert authorized individuals via email. Configure the email address to be the address of the security management system device so that a text message is received on alert from the surveillance system. Then, users remotely log into the surveillance system from a computer or mobile phone to see what is going on.

Any user that has both an alarm system and a video system should really integrate them. It’s an easy, low-cost solution that will pay dividends quickly, not only cutting false positives but, when there is a problem, assuring that first responders know exactly where to go and what to expect when they get there.

Mark S. Wilson, Infinova vice-president, Marketing

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