Video verification committee's work close to done for standard used by monitoring facilities to help reduce false dispatches

Saturday, July 1, 2006

In less than two years, members of the Central Station Alarm Association and Security Industry Association, including central station management, manufacturers and consultants, drafted a video verification standard in an effort to reduce false alarms, outlining techniques for central stations to use video to verify alarm signals and help visually identify the source of the alarm event when dispatching. Later this summer, once approved by the committee, the standard will be available to the industry.
The standard was derived from a paragraph that is in the Alarm Verification and Notification Procedures ANSI/ CSAA CS-V-01, published a few years ago, said Lou Fiore, chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee. "We wanted to come up with a lot more of that subject," Fiore said, "and write a separate standard and then eventually fold it into the CS-V-01 standard."
Industry members interviewed agreed that having a video verification standard would help the industry move forward. "Video enables more information that can be available to the operator, and an extension of that can be leveraged to the end user," said OzVision's Tim Root, chief technology officer and vice president of product management.
"It sets the ground work for the industry to transition to the 21st century, and start to use relatively low-cost technology to significantly enhance the performance of the solutions in place," he said.
Organizing a standard will get everyone on the same page, said Barry Brannon, vice president of business development at Marlin Central Monitoring. As a member of the committee, with a central station that monitors video and does video verification, "setting the same expectations in the industry, not only at the central station, but also for the dealer and customer, is critical."
Brannon said, "Just as in burglar and fire alarms, end users don't always get the real picture of how alarms happen and how central stations respond and the time it actually takes for the central station to respond."
Not only will the standard fill the gap with basic information about this technology, said Jim McMullen, chair of the committee and president of C.O.P.S. Monitoring, it will also provide clarification to a subject that can be defined in many ways.
Developing the standard at times was taxing, as questions surfaced on how to define methods of using video; the terms tend to vary from central station to central station, McMullen said. "What does video verification mean?" McMullen asked. "It's a buzzword, and has a different meaning to each industry member."
With that in mind, the committee approached the standard as one of best practices and a guideline for video verification. Bud Wulforst of A-1 Security commented about the language choice, "If we made it too complex, it just wouldn't get implemented."
Manufacturer representatives also sat on the committee to provide input about technical aspects. The committee was sensitive about how much technical language should be included in the standard. A decision was made that some technical issues discussed were above the scope of the committee.
"Everybody has their own idea about what the best technology is out there. The best technology might not be the surviving technology of the future," McMullen said. "We want to try to accomplish something that whatever the technology morphs into, this standard will still apply."
The monitoring facilities that implemented video have been a resource in determining the structure of the standard. "It's based on the experience and feedback that I'm getting, but that feedback and experience is based on other central stations who are actually implementing the technology," McMullen said.
In early spring, the committee, which is made up of a core of about 15 representatives, but at times has had more than 70 industry members participating in meetings and assisting with the draft, had a committee review at ISC West.
"We got a lot of feedback and discussion of the first draft. We are now in the process of updating the draft with the comments we got at the open forum," Root said about the committee review in Las Vegas.
During the meeting, many agreed that the language in the draft was accurate. However, some felt that there was too much technical information layered in the standard. So, the committee examined the draft again.
"I think [Jim McMullen, chair of the committee] has come up with a compromise, paired it down to a point where it is acceptable without getting too technical," Fiore said.
McMullen is waiting for final comments from some of the committee members, but said, "I think it is pretty close to what I think the final document is."
The industry at large will get to judge that for itself when the standard is released later this summer.