Remote Guarding Alliance talks best practices, video monitoring standard

As standards talk continues, the question arises: Is there help across the pond?
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

LAS VEGAS—The Remote Guarding Alliance, currently comprising 14 members from the growing advanced video monitoring sector, would like you to start paying attention. "You'll be hearing a lot more from the Remote Guarding Alliance in the future," said RGA board member Mike Hanlon, VP channel sales and marketing at Lowell, Mass.-based Viewpoint CRM. "What we're doing is rising to the top of many industry discussions."

Among the topics discussed at the RGA's annual meeting, held at ISC West, was the group's primary mission statement of putting forward best practices; how to separate, in industry perception, remote guarding from video verification; and the need for a video monitoring standard. "We discussed the desire to come up with a standard, not just in terms of the facility, but the practices, storage, everything," Hanlon said. "To have a single voice in helping to create a standard, whether it's UL or somebody else's standard, is going to be a primary objective of the organization."

Security Systems News, in a March article investigated the need for and progress toward a video monitoring standard from UL. That investigation showed a major stumbling block to the development of a standard in a lack of financial incentive. That story discussed the fact that there is little drive to invest in developing a standard few companies at present will use. Hanlon agrees there are obstacles to overcome. "It's a pretty big undertaking. We've committed to having more meetings, more dialog, more communication to get this initiative advanced," Hanlon said. "Certainly no one's standing up and saying, ‘Look, I'll draft our first pass at this.'" Hanlon said. "I think really our first effort is going to be just to identify and clarify nomenclature, explain to the public, the security director, what a video guard tour is, for example. It's not the same as a video verification event."

Pauline Norstrom, director of worldwide marketing for UK-based AD Group, which includes remotely monitored CCTV solution provider RemGuard, said there was no need to reinvent the wheel. Norstrom said her company, along with the British Security Industry Association, had developed a video monitoring standard that could easily cross the Atlantic. "The standard—BS 8418—was originally created by the BSIA and it was written around the code of practice that RemGuard was using. That formed the basis of the document," Norstrom said. "They took it to the British Standards Institute during which time there was a public consultation and lots of industry input, and after about two years the standard was ratified and published in the UK. The standard has been adopted by the police and they issue a URN—unique reference number for a site that is accredited for 8418. What that gives to the user is a guaranteed first level response." Norstrom said level one meant police respond immediately. Anything other than level one means the police respond "when they get around to it, or they don't respond at all."

Hanlon was unsure the BSIA standard would apply. "I've seen standards in the past out of the UK, and I don't know how much crossover there would really be between our operations and practices," Hanlon said. "We certainly would rather not create something all the way up from the ground. At the same time we have to be sure it covers all the things our experience shows clients are looking for, that we think are necessary."

Norstrom recommended the leaders in U.S. video monitoring contact their UK counterparts. "I would recommend that that they connect up with the BSIA very soon," Norstrom said. "The BSIA represents all aspects of the security industry here, and have representatives that sit on all the main standards committees, both in the UK, Europe and worldwide, and it would probably be a good idea to get together and discuss how the BSIA managed to ratify 8418 ."

There may again here be some confusion between video monitoring and video verification, however. Just as the CSAA standard for video verification, CS-V-02, Video Verification Procedures for Burglar Alarms, was once being developed by a subcommittee often referred to as the "video monitoring subcommittee," part of what Hanlon and the RGA are trying to do is just get everyone to agree on the same ways of describing the very services the central stations are providing.