Video standards must be done right

SSN Staff  - 
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Derek Rice, managing editor
One of the more interesting events I attended at ISC West was the inaugural meeting of the Central Station Alarm Association’s Video Verification Subcommittee.

Because it was a committee meeting, I didn’t have high expectations. After all, I’ve covered city council and town meetings in my past, and rarely do they rise to a level I would call “exciting.”

But in this case, I was pleasantly surprised. First, at the number of people who took the time to show up and second, at the scope of issues that those 30-plus attendees raised. They ranged from things I expected to hear, things like bandwidth issues and image quality, to the more unusual, like the psychological damage that might be inflicted on a central station operator who has just witnessed a murder on their computer screen.

A few people I’ve spoken with since this first meeting have said that while the committee will most likely end up focusing on basic issues, it was good to give everyone a chance to get their concerns out there, but that when it comes time to hammer out a standard, those will have to be whittled down to the basics. In fact, the committee’s mission statement reads: “Create a minimum industry standard for good practices in the use of video for monitoring applications to aid in alarm verification.” Right off the bat, that narrows the focus considerably.

Judging from the sheer number and breadth of those issues and concerns, the committee, which Jim McMullen of C.O.P.S. Monitoring has agreed to chair, will have its hands full as it attempts to narrow everything down to a minimum stan-dard. I missed the follow-up meeting at the North American Monitoring Technologies Symposium and Expo in Memphis, but I understand that the committee has already made some headway toward narrowing its focus even more.

From my perspective, hearing all those voices at ISC West made me wonder what were the top four or five issues associated with video monitoring and verification. So we sent out a Newspoll on that topic. Some of the results of that poll can be seen on page 54, but according to our responses, nearly two-thirds of those in the industry are either offering or planning to offer video monitoring services.

Avi Lupo of OzVision said to me at NAMTSE that many of those companies that aren’t offering this service have failed to recognize that remote video monitoring can contribute directly to the bottom line by increasing recurring monthly revenue. These companies, he said, are missing out in a big way.

Judging from the responses to our poll, that is not the case with those who do offer the service. Eighty-six percent cited increased revenues as one of the main drivers to offer video monitoring.

One thing is for certain: as technology improves and prices fall, more central stations are going to recognize the potential for increased RMR, meaning video monitoring is only going to grow in popularity in the months and years to come.

Which makes the need for an industry standard all the more pressing.