DIY Video Alarm Verfication

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jun 04, 2012

Video alarm verification may improve intrusion monitoring, but having alarms flow through a central station can be awkward. Those services are complex 'event billed' plans whose costs can be difficult to estimate. Not only that, but requesting to see video from the monitoring station seems backward. If you own the equipment, should you not have full access to it, anytime you want?

In this note, we examine a DIY approach that works with Videofied products.

Overview

The offering, called WebEYE CMS is from VDT Direct and is a cloud based DIY video verification portaL:

  • Software service is built using Videofied Developer API
  • Provides remote alarm notification and panel access via mobile devices
  • Does not enhance Videofied equipment performance
  • Approx $30/m USD for basic service package

The manufacturer's marketing video clip overviews the product and tiers of 'DIY' service being sold:

The Videofied system generally consists of one or more wireless connected, battery powered, low resolution, black and white-only cameras integrated with a motion detecting PIR sensor. While not designed to satisfy a 'traditional' video surveillance function, the addition of Videofied equipment to intrusion systems has been credited with cutting back on false alarm events and enhancing response by having remote visibility of an alarm onsite. See our previous coverage of Videofied systems for further technical information. WebEYE service does nothing to enhance or change the performance of base Videofied hardware.

Instead of integrating Videofied equipment with a supporting central monitoring station, WebEYE CMS permits the user to become their own monitoring station. VDT has customized the Videofied central station API to send alarm notifications to an account based web portal, allowing users the flexibility to manage and distribute outbound alarm notifications themselves, or even position themselves as a 'micro' central station responsible for management of many different panels.

The developer is selling services in three basic tiers, as explained below:

  • 'Standard' tier permits email notification of alarm by sending video clip to mobile device. Guards can then access panel directly for further investigation.
  • 'Professional' tier enables email notification of alarm by sending link to cloud based panel interface, permitting remote panel intervention. This also allows for sending Videofied information to a 'non-Videofied' equipped central monitoring station.
  • 'Ultimate' tier is an 'always on' app based connection that permits real-time notification of alarms from a virtual dashboard of system panels. Alarm responders update an alarm log describing the event and how they responded, and they also have the option to take advantage of the 2-way audio when present on Videofied panels.

In general, the more advanced a service tier becomes, the quicker an alarm can be recognized and addressed by staff in the field. Accordingly, the 'Professional' and 'Ultimate' tiers will not be an advantage for customers who do not have staffed security or dispatchable resources on patrol. The 'Standard' tier is positioned to be the most similar to existing Videofied monitoring services, in a self-reporting format. While a 'Videofied' monitoring company may also serve to discern whether or not a video event is a 'false alarm' before notification, the WebEYE platform allows an end-user to see any video event, regardless of the threat. This may be an advantage to some Videofied customers who also choose to use the video equipment in an operation management capacity aside from intrusion notifications.

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Pricing

A typical Videofied monitoring subscription cost between $40 - $60 per month. For this price, the user 'buys' a fixed number of notifications from the alarm panel. In this way, a panel with only a few alarms every month cost less than a panel sending many alarms.

However, the WebEYE service costs about $30 per month, regardless of the number of alarms it sends. This 'flat fee' does not include the screening for 'false positive' events that a central monitoring station provides, but end users might actually see operational benefit from this increased visibility.

The more advanced notification tiers do not have firm US pricing yet, but the developer suggests that aside from any customization or fine tuning effort that costs will be inline with typical Central Monitoring Station subscriptions. During our meeting at PSA-TEC, the developer suggested that the US pricing and services model was flexible and that they are still tweaking the stateside offering based on demands of the local market.

This noted, this service, as currently priced, does not offer significant cost savings. If WebEye is to be selected, it will be for operational reasons rather than cost cutting.

 

Analysis

When is a 'DIY' WebEYE a good option instead of 'traditional' central station monitoring? The checklist below helps users decide which option is best for their deployment:

Videofied Central Station Monitoring

  • Do not have onsite security staff on site
  • Seek only to be notified of an alarm condition
  • Do not need to actively audit Videofied panel activity
  • Use Videofied only as an extension of of intrusion system

WebEYE DIY Monitoring

  • Customers who have security staff onsite
  • Security plans require active monitoring of system condition
  • Desire to bring judgement of what is an 'alarm event' in house
  • Have highly dynamic alarm environments not subject to 'overage' alarm penalties
  • Use Videofied as a 'video sentry' system for maintaining perimeter security
  • Customers whose current Central Monitoring Station is not 'Videofied Enabled'

Some customers may be able to enhance the system limitations of a Central Station Monitored system by moving to WebEYE, specifically large enterprises with a high Videofied panel population. However, we anticipate that most customers consider the 'limitations' that WebEYE addresses to be a 'benefit' and will not see tangible value in making a switch.

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