Get verified or get extinct?

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11/04/2009
I was speaking with Keith Jentoft over at RSI Video Technologies today about yet another partnership, this time with Mace CSSS. Earlier this week it was CMS. Keith was telling me about a recent case study RSI put together about the Detroit Public School system. Apparently there were a large number--100--public school buildings in Detroit that were closed and in need of protection from thieves and vandals. An RFP was issued and a bid accepted. 30 schools were outfitted by D/A Central of Security-Net with the Videofied solution as apposed to traditional video surveillance at a cost to the city, according to RSI's study, of $5,000 as opposed to $100,000 for each school. That's a lot of money and a lot of savings. Keith's point is that a Videofied system--which he is quick to point out is NOT video surveillance ("We’re not monitored by a special boutique in the back. The ordinary worker bee does Videofied. Why? Because we’re not video surveillance. All we’re trying to do is answer the question: 'Is there someone there?' If there is somewhere there you dispatch.")--is much cheaper and more effective. Case in point: the Videofied solution costs just 5 percent, again according to RSI's study, of the full-blown surveillance solution. What's more, it was effective. According to the case study, after Videofied was deployed in the remaining buildings, and monitored by Exton, Pa.-based The Protection Bureau, the powers-that-be got 45 apprehensions in four weeks with no false alarms... That's a pretty good track record. Jentoft pointed out the savings didn't stop at the lower price of the Videofied solution. There's savings in not having to board up the vacant buildings as tightly, savings in the form of not having to clean up graffiti, savings of pipes and cabling that weren't stolen, savings in the form of reduced liability from lawsuits from those who break in. Some of the unprotected buildings in the original lot were so damaged by looters and vandals that, according to Jentoft, they had to be torn down at great cost to the city. Jentoft's main point, however, is that many municipalities are moving toward actively changing their dispatch procedures to prioritize alarms that are accompanied by video verification. NYPD was named specifically. I called Long Island City, N.Y.-based American Security Systems' senior security consultant Edwin Day for some background. Day has been around and has an impressive law enforcement resume. During his 22-year career with the NYPD, he was awarded 40 citations for meritorious and heroic actions in the line of duty. Day is an active member of ASIS and the Detectives Crime Clinic of New York and New Jersey. He has completed the Facility Security Design and Physical Security Technology and Applications courses, and is also the recipient of the Detectives Crime Clinic Award for Excellence, the NYPD Detective Bureau Certificate of Exemplary Conduct, and the Detectives Endowment Association Certificate. Speaking of dispatch procedures at the NYPD, Day said he had advocated for understanding of what a video-verified system could do. "They have made a structural change in the approach to video verification of alarms," Day said. "When I first saw this product my first reaction was 'this is fantastic.' ... My belief was basically that the typical burglar alarm is a victim of its own success. Everybody's putting them out there. I know, as a cop, it's a low priority job as a necessity simply because there are so many false alarms." Jentoft said cities in California were following suit. I have emails out to officials at CAA to follow up on this assertion. I wrote a story recently for SSN that postulated the genesis of a trend toward all alarms having audio or video verification. With prices coming down, perhaps now is the time to get into video and two-way voice.