Skip to Content

Verified alarms discussion--A voice of caution

Verified alarms discussion--A voice of caution

scratch I was going through my email this morning and came across my email newsletter from Ken Kirschenbaum. Today's edition follows the theme of enhanced call verification and verification, in general. I found this edition particularly interesting because of a missive from Bart Didden over at U.S.A. Central Station Alarm Corp.

I've blogged about some of what Bart's had to say in Ken's forum before. Today Bart's talking about verified alarms, in general and about Videofied, specifically. I've written a lot about both. The thrust of Bart's address is that it's perhaps self-defeating to market video (or audio, I assume) verified intrusion detection systems as eliciting a higher priority response from police than a normal intrusion detection system.

Here's Bart's entry on verified alarms:


I am happy as anyone else for the success of Videofied and yes we monitor that platform in our office. But I am concerned about the message that your e-mail distributes and the unintended consequence for the 30 million systems that have been installed and are in service in which the vast majority is doing what they were designed to do, detect the actions of an unknown person or persons.

My direct issue with the message and content is that I believe that Mr. Jentoft is saying that those 30 million systems are sub-standard or in Lee Jones (another way left of center self proclaimed industry professional who pontificates) words, frauds.

While I believe that we should embrace new technology, we can not place ourselves in such a position that we devalue the more traditional technology that was just installed. We should not allow a new class of customer to be created to receive a higher level of response service from municipal authorities as a sales tool when a properly designed and installed system without video is just if not more effective for the purpose at hand, detection.

Members of the industry and your list SHOULD NOT endorse or perpetuate this marketing scheme all at the detriment of the system they installed yesterday or last year that was not a Videofied system.

Bart's letter is in response to an earlier posting from Keith:


This just came out in the magazine of the National Sheriffs Assn. I don't think that law enforcement has ever endorsed an alarm product before, at least not officially.

I thought it might interest you,

In any case, I enjoy your morning reports.

Thank you for your support.

I see Bart's point. And I see Keith's point. The problem, though, is that the police generally ARE, in fact giving higher priority to an alarm that's verified. Not just by Videofied, though. Most of the law enforcement officials to whom I've spoken on the topic admit that they're in the business of apprehending criminals, so if an alarm signal comes in that assures there's suspicious activity complete with a perp onsite, then the alarm is not just an alarm, it becomes a crime in progress, and police will respond with higher priority.

Bart is certainly not the only industry exec I've spoken with who questions the wisdom of marketing a verified system as better than a traditional system. When I was down in Dallas putting my recent market trends piece on verified alarms together, Mitch Clarke over at Monitronics, Ty Davis, formerly with Southwest Dispatch, and Stefan Rayner, Grant Graham and David Steinbrunner with NMC all expressed concern about devaluing the traditional intrusion system. I understand where they're all coming from. I feel like this is a debate we've seen before and will see a lot of in the future.

The problem, though is that it's not about Videofied or Sonitrol vs. traditional intrusion detection, it's about a verified crime in progress vs. something may or may not be going on If I can tell a police officer that I just saw someone break a window at the neighbor's house and climb through, said officer is going to react more quickly and with higher priority than if a motion detector went off and we have no idea what set it off.

Mike Jagger over at Provident Security sends his security officers to every alarm he gets at his central station. That's how Provident verifies its alarms.

I've also discussed police response to alarms before. The truth is that police are not required to respond to alarms. It's a courtesy they pay to a private business. Their job is not to bring value to what a security company sells, it's to uphold the law, apprehend bad guys and deter lawbreaking in the future.

I'm curious to hear what you, my readers, think? Is there a way to promote the benefits of a verified system without devaluing a non-verified, traditional system? Should all systems incorporate some kind of verification? Chime in and let me know your thoughts.


To comment on this post, please log in to your account or set up an account now.