ACCENT the positive

Meeting of the minds concludes video monitoring standards needed
Monday, May 1, 2006

LAS VEGAS--A group of more than 40 members of the ACCENT Listserv, including manufacturers, central station managers and consultants in the alarm monitoring community, convened to discuss the current climate of the industry at the ISC West show last month.
Ellen Rodrigues, manager of corporate services at Monitronics, started the conversation by saying, "There is so much more than just alarm monitoring," when describing what central stations do now.
As proprietary and third party central station representatives delved into conversation, video monitoring came up more than once. Attendees had many questions about this technology, such as: Should there be standards of verification? What would constitute a no response by law enforcement on video verification? For example, Rodrigues asked, "Was that shadow that the operator dialed into a cat or is it a perpetrator waiting to come over a fence?" What do you say to law enforcement? How long should an operator be tied to viewing a video?
Of course, each answer will vary depending on the central station and the customer's needs, but nearly all those who participated in the discussion agree a set of guidelines or standards should be developed.
Ron Walters, of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition and a former alarm company owner said, "We need to develop a standard or someone else will do it for us." Many in attendance agreed. A standards committee of the central station community, including Lou Fiore, a consultant for the industry, will be drafting a proposal that might eventually set standards for this technology.
There are variables when dealing with the liability of video verification. For example, what happens if an operator fails to dispatch and there is proof of a crime?
"We will not make a determination, unless a customer verifies, if we don't see anything," said Morgan Hertel, central station manager at the Command Center, about the central's video verification process.
One attendee said the standard should be a universal video interface, and should be driven by the automation company, which is the most logical source, he added.
It's too early in the game to determine where this technology will go, but the meeting showed that industry members share many common concerns.