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Video verification: A police chief’s perspective

For law enforcement, the essential task for video verification technology is to maintain confidence that a priority response is needed, police chief says
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08/06/2014

HIGHLAND PARK, Texas— Law enforcement is taking an increasingly active role in shaping video verification alarm policies. Hear what a police chief involved in the development of video verification best practices has to say about their impact.

PPVAR completes video verification best practices in time for ESX

The best practices identify three different threat levels for video verification
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07/02/2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Meeting the ESX deadline it set for itself late last year, the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response has completed a best practices document for video verification, which distills feedback from more than 30 security companies, 12 law enforcement agencies and four insurance industry associations.

PPVAR, SIAC talk verified alarm standards

Guidelines needed to govern how central stations and PSAPs interact during a dispatch
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06/11/2014

LAS VEGAS—It’s little wonder that the topic of verified alarms tends to spark dialogue between those in law enforcement and the alarm space. Intended to reduce false dispatches while increasing apprehensions, verified alarms—and the policies that guide them—are of critical importance to both groups, and continue to shape the relationship between them.

Toronto police considering non-response

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Toronto, the largest city in Canada, is mulling the possibility of not responding to private alarms, citing a false alarm rate that looks bad even within that context.

According to a report from the Toronto Star, just 300 of the 20,000 private alarm calls Toronto police responded to in 2012 turned out to be legitimate. As a result, an internal police steering committee is reviewing the cost-savings that could be reaped by scaling back on alarm response (among other services), the report said.  

By doing so, the committee estimates the police force could realize $613,222 in savings, according to the report. That amounts to 10,960 officer hours.

Additionally, the committee recommended police stop taking reports on lost or stolen property whose value does not exceed $500.

From a law enforcement perspective, it’s sensible to do away with writing redundant reports for lost property, particularly when other institutions are better suited to deal with such events. But what could a non-response policy portend for alarm companies who would then have to provide private response services themselves? Not only do companies stand to incur the costs associated with this; they also stand to lose what many in the industry view as the most vital element of the value proposition of an alarm system—the guarantee of police response in the event of a legitimate alarm.  

False alarms (and what to do about them) remain among the most polarizing issues in the alarm industry today. It continues to define, and sometimes roil, the relationship between private alarm companies and law enforcement.

So what’s can be done? The theories about how to mitigate false alarms tend to diverge and dovetail, making the issue especially complex and difficult to navigate, much less reach a conclusion on. Some believe a clear and properly enforced ordinance, bolstered by measures such as cross-zoning and enhanced call verification, will do the trick, with fines for offending alarms helping to offset the losses. Others say private response is the inevitable long-term solution.

Others still, such as PPVAR, believe the relationship between law enforcement and the industry can and should remain intact so long as the alarm installed base evolves technologically and municipalities move toward a verified response approach (that's not to say the industry is in full agreement over what constitutes a verified alarm). The organization also espouses new video verification standards.

The issue continues to be a fraught one, with no definite solution in sight. To be sure, many cities have made great strides with false alarm reduction. But cases such as Toronto are a resounding reminder that there’s room for improvement.

Video verification: a residential service?

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Video verification in the residential market—it was a topic that surfaced in some of the PPVAR panels I attended at TechSec, though the discussion had been picking up momentum well before that.

It really seemed to pick up last August, when Honeywell Security announced it was joining the membership ranks of PPVAR, a move that some saw as a sign of the “mainstreaming” of video verification.

That seemed to be the gist of Scott Harkins (president of Honeywell Security Products Americas) words in the prepared statement released at the time, in which he said Honeywell recognized that “video verification is an important product category as we look to the future of security.”

Harkins, who was a panelist at one of the PPVAR sessions at ISC West, for the most part reiterated that sense of optimism, saying there was indeed potential for video verification in the residential space. He did however add the caveat that, from Honeywell’s perspective, bringing the technology into the mainstream had to be done in a way that keeps such systems affordable to a mass residential market.

Keith Jentoft, president at Videofied - RSI Video Technologies and an industry liaison for PPVAR, has given me some leads in recent weeks about a few monitoring companies that are striving to fulfill the vision put forth by Harkins (EMERgency24, based in Des Plaines, Ill., is one of a few he’s mentioned).

In the days and weeks ahead, I plan to explore how some of these companies are taking video verification to a broader residential market, zeroing in on the strategies that have worked as well as the challenges. 

PPVAR panels at ISC West merit a close look

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

For anyone monitoring the progress of the latest push toward a comprehensive verified alarm standard, there’s a pair of consecutive PPVAR panel sessions at ISC West that are can’t-miss in stature.

The first session, moderated by Steve Walker, vice president of Stanley Convergent, kicks off on Thursday, April 3 in Room 502, and is especially noteworthy because it brings several outside-the-industry perspectives into the same forum. Titled “Insurance and Law Enforcement Review Verified Alarms,” the session illustrates the array of stakeholder groups now influencing the conversation of verification. Among the six panelists are Cmdr. Scott Edson, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept., and Anthony Canale, vice president of Verisk Crime Analytics.

The second panel, “Video Verification in the Alarm Industry,” is moderated by Donald Young, PPVAR president and chief information officer at Protection 1. The panel roster for this second discussion is designed to showcase a broad array of intra-industry views on the role of video verification in the alarm industry. Keith Jentoft, an industry liaison for PPVAR, said the lineup will feature representatives from the manufacturing side (Scott Harkins, president of Honeywell) and the central station space (Chuck Moeling, executive VP of sales at Interface, and Tony Wilson, president of CMS), along with representatives from the private investment and legal arenas.

The debate surrounding verified alarms is a fascinating one, and that’s due in part to the general complexity of an issue that involves stakeholders from outside the industry, as well as a host of ideas about the role of verified alarms that dovetail as much as they diverge.

I expect these discussions to generate some high-quality dialog that not only zooms into the subtleties and particulars of verified alarms, but also pans out to ask the big, overarching questions about the role of the industry in general. As the industry evolves, what aspects of the alarm industry as we know it will remain in place? What’s bound to change? What qualifies as a verified alarm, and where do legacy systems fit into the discussion?

These questions may not be asked explicitly, but I expect them to permeate the discussion.  

Verified alarm? Definitions vary

Does ECV or cross-zoning qualify as a verified alarm? CSAA, PPVAR work toward new comprehensive verification standard
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03/05/2014

HENDERSON, Nev. and VIENNA, Va.—It’s likely that a new comprehensive verification standard will surface sometime in 2014. The Central Station Alarm Association is in the process of developing such a standard for all manner of verified alarms, and the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response, since its inception, has been gathering best practices toward that end.

Digital Life, Imperial Capital join PPVAR

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Several organizations recently joined PPVAR’s growing membership roster, but two of the new additions are particularly striking. Digital Life, a home management platform from AT&T, is now on board, according to Keith Jentoft, an industry liaison for PPVAR. This comes about seven months after Digital Life earned CSAA Five Diamond certification.

Investment bank Imperial Capital also joined the organization. This is doubtless an interesting development as well, with Imperial being the organization's first member from the private investment side. In a certain sense, an investment bank showing interest in video verified monitoring seems unsurprising, given signs of the technology's more mainstream direction, plus the technology’s ability to drive higher average revenue returns per customer. Additionally, when a private investment bank allies itself with a best-practices organization, it suggests their interest in the value proposition runs fairly deep.

The group also added The Illinois Alarm Association and the Michigan Association of Police Chiefs as members—both organizations the likes of which we've become more accustomed to seeing engage with PPVAR, an organization focused on pooling knowledge from members in both public and private sectors.

As PPVAR forges ahead toward its goal of written standards for video verification, I’ll be keen to see what kind of bearings its new members have on the organization’s direction. Will the addition of Digital Life compel other cablecos and telecoms to join? And with respect to Imperial Capital, I’m curious to see what kind of role they play in promoting PPVAR’s cause. Will their membership generate further interest in video verification from other private investment groups?

The organization is convening in the coming days, Jentoft said. After they do, I hope to get a clearer picture of where the organization is at this stage of the process.

Readers back PPVAR’s quest for video verification standards

SSN readers support written standards, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t skeptics
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01/08/2014

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.

All things video at Affiliated's Security Summit '13

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I first got word in the fall about Affiliated Monitoring’s Security Summit ’13, and the event caught my attention then because it was designed around a very focused topic which I've covered more frequently of late: video monitoring.

Tomorrow I depart for Affiliated’s headquarters in Union, N.J., where I’ll partake in several seminars developed to educate dealers about the best way to incorporate video monitoring into their business.

While the summit bears the title “Earn more money with Video,” that doesn’t totally do justice to the breadth and scope of the seminar topics. There’s a session on making the transition from analog to IP video. There’s a roundtable discussion on interactive services as it pertains to video monitoring, and how dealers can take advantage of video to bolster the usefulness of home automation packages.

The other seminars deal with video monitoring success stories, featuring companies that have boosted RMR from the offering, and an “ask the lawyer” section in which dealers can ask an alarm industry attorney the legal questions that could have a bearing on how they run their business.

I hope to be active on Twitter throughout the day, and to pen a blog or two about the most resonant discussion points that unfold amid the seminars.

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