Readers back PPVAR’s quest for video verification standards

SSN readers support written standards, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t skeptics
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

YARMOUTH, Maine—More than three-quarters of respondents to an SSN News Poll survey believe written video verification standards are necessary, while a slimmer majority—55 percent—say the timeline for such standards, proposed by the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response, is realistic. 

In June 2014 (coinciding with ESX), PPVAR plans to hand off its best-practices recommendation to a standards writing body. Despite the heavy support, about 37 percent said PPVAR and interested parties should allow themselves more time to study the issue. 

A core value of the technology, as champions of video verification will tell you, is its ability to increase apprehensions by making alarms a priority response to law enforcement, thereby reducing response time. 

Seventy-nine percent of readers believe this will indeed be the case if written standards are developed. “Video and audio verification are the ‘next step’ in alarm monitoring and dispatch,” said Doug Curtiss, president and owner of Hartford-based Sonitrol New England. “Let’s face it, police respond to the extent they do with the hope of catching a crook in the act. If our industry cannot facilitate arrests, police department response will disappear.”

Tom Gorab, founder and CEO of Emergency Network, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., said his company has been an active user of Videofied for a few years now, and said the technology has been instrumental in detecting intruders and helping law enforcement make several arrests. “I believe video is a key component in protection of assets and will continue to become more effective as video content analytics and systems integration improve,” he said.

While support for the standards, together with the benefits they might reap, was pronounced, there was a contingent of dissenting voices as well. One respondent questioned whether subscribers would ultimately realize the benefits encompassed by video verification’s value proposition.

“The alarm industry has been focused for the last 20 years on mitigation of loss, not apprehension,” the reader said. “If we shift our focus to apprehension, does the subscriber benefit? If we remove criminals from the street and rely on the justice system to incarcerate them, maybe the crime rates lower and the subscriber benefits.”

To help advance its objectives, PPVAR has placed an onus on forming partnerships with law enforcement and the insurance industry. One reader opined that the collaboration between PPVAR and law enforcement could potentially cause friction. “Standards are already in place and have been for several decades,” the reader said. “They’re called the 911 definitions and rules. The alarm industry will meet a lot of resistance from law enforcement if a private interest group tries to change 911 rules for self-serving purposes. Any technology or procedure that meets law enforcement rules should be allowed to compete in the marketplace.”

Another reader, in support of the standards, said best practices that result in written standards could help iron out some of the current wrinkles, while heading off problems down the road. “When a point on an alarm system goes off, which camera or cameras should be viewable?” asked Richard Kramer, security products account manager at Mountain West Distributors, based in Salt Lake City. “I have seen an instance where the customer could see a van parked outside his building [the intruders’ van], but the monitoring center could not” because it was “not on his list.” 

Kramer added: “And with IP taking more bandwidth, less cameras can be seen and police department’s don’t know how to react when they have verified response.”