Get all access to the world's best video surveillance information.

Should You Use Twitter for Security Monitoring?

by John Honovich, IPVM posted on May 23, 2009 About John Contact John

Internet luminary Kevin Rose suggests that we cut out alarm monitoring companies through the use of low cost devices and sharing alerts via Twitter. Friends and neighbors can then monitor those alerts and respond appropriately. [Watch Kevin Rose's video explaining the concept.]

Certainly, Kevin taps into 3 compelling concerns:

  • Alarm monitoring services are expensive - $500-$1000 USD per year
  • They often sell based on fear
  • The Internet makes monitoring much less expensive and more sophisticated

However, 3 operational issues make a free, pure crowdsourcing approach to be unattractive for most:
  • Alarm monitoring companies provide extensive coverage indoors and outdoors that makes sure that the house is well protected; a DIY approach would likely leave major gaps in coverage
  • Handling false alerts would likely overwhelm people responding (ie., "the Boy who Cried Wolf") since most alerts are false
  • It's often hard to determine if an alert is an intruder or simply a friend, relative, etc. Responders at alarm monitoring companies have numbers/contacts and procedures to verify and assess such issues

Because of this, most people benefit from having some centralized organization that verifies alarms and provides quality control/support.

That being said, I think the idea has merit:
  • The idea can be implemented today with $100 IP cameras that use motion detection and support SMS/email. A moderately technical person could do this now and could deploy a poor man's 'alarm monitoring system'
  • While free, crowdsourcing has problems, today's technology should easily generate new competition from much lower cost providers that use the Internet and self-monitoring to reduce costs yet provide some support and verification.

Ill-will towards the monitoring companies is common and with the high prices of systems, they are ripe for disruption. While free and open source may not be enough for most today, new technologies do point the way to less expensive alternatives.

Most Recent Industry Reports

Axis Video Analytics Are Weak on Oct 05, 2015
For more than a decade, video analytics has frustrated and disappointed users. Now, Axis has released their own "series of robust video analytics applications" that they call Guard Suite. Unf...

The 4MP Shootout - Dahua vs Hikvision on Sep 30, 2015
4MP cameras are an important emerging trend in video surveillance, aiming to replace 1080p. This is being driven by new sensors from OmniVision that deliver almost twice the pixel count of 1080p a...

33 New Products Directory - Fall 2015 on Sep 28, 2015
 New products or major tech isssues that IPVM has reported on this summer / fall: Axis Releases Their Own Video Analytics Axis Non-IP Camera / DVR Kit Is Here BluB0X - The Most ...

Axis YouTube Livestreaming Camera App Tested on Sep 25, 2015
Broadcasting live video has historically been complex and costly, with manual setup and pricey monthly subscriptions required. Now, Camstreamer is aiming to change that, with an Axis Camera A...

Anixter/Tri-Ed Northern Video Tested on Sep 18, 2015
ADI is an IP video manufacturer now (see IPVM's ADI W Box test results). And now, their top rival, Anixter's Tri-Ed arm has also entered the IP video manufacturering business, under the North...

Axis Digital Autotracking Tested on Sep 16, 2015
As camera resolutions continues to climb, the likelihood that you will ever display any camera at full resolution on a monitor declines. This is even more improbable for the normal configuration of...

Access Control Book 2015 on Sep 16, 2015
This book is the textbook for our Access Control Course, today is the last day to get in the course. This is the best, most comprehensive access control training in the world, based on o...

Hikvision iVMS-4200 Tested on Sep 14, 2015
Though best known for their camera and recorders, mega Chinese manufacturer also makes their own VMS software. In this report, we share test results of Hikvision's iVMS-4200, their VMS that works ...

Google Breaks Surveillance Browser Support on Sep 09, 2015
Now you have a choice. Broken video surveillance web browser support or an insecure, prone to crashing interface. As Google has been warning for ~2 years, Chrome has now discontinued NPAPI suppor...

The $28 Million Video Doorbell Ring Tested on Sep 08, 2015
In 2015, video doorbells are big business. Ring landed $28 million in funding from Richard Branson and others who are betting that this is the next big thing. However, when Ring's first generation...