Remote Surveillance Monitoring Recommendations

Author: James Talmage, Published on Nov 07, 2011

While many sites might benefit from real time surveillance monitoring, most budgets preclude hiring a security staff to perform those duties.  A growing trend is the use of third party companies to monitor cameras remotely.  This can provide similar benefits to an on-site security staff at significantly reduced costs.  Successfully utilizing remote monitoring, however, usually requires a system that was designed with that goal in mind.  This update will examine the most important considerations in designing a system that is remote monitoring ready.

Monitoring Company and Costs

The monitoring company chosen will likely have the biggest impact on a given projects success.  Researching and narrowing down the field of potential monitoring companies can provide valuable information when it comes time to design the system.  Sites that are only to be monitored during off-hours, when people are prohibited from the premises, will find the greatest savings in monitoring companies that employ event-based monitoring.  In an event-based model, the security system employs some form of automated intrusion detection, and the monitoring company only views the video when alerted by the system.  This allows a single operator to monitor many more cameras, and is the biggest driver of savings.

Most monitoring companies charge a flat base rate that includes a certain number of events, plus an additional charge for each event over the limit.  In our experience we’ve seen a wide range of flat rate prices ($350 to $1,400 per month for an 8 camera system); The higher priced services usually include a higher event limit, and additional services, such as “video escorts” (watching customers walk to their car late at night), and “guard tours” (periodically reviewing cameras that have not triggered events).  We have found per event pricing to have significantly less variation ($3.50 to $4.50 per event), but did come across one company that charged only $2.50 per false alarm, and by the minute for actual intrusion events.

Interoperability between the monitoring company and the VMS are another significant concern.  The choice of a particular monitoring company will necessarily serve to narrow the field of potential VMSs to those they support.  Users considering employing video analytics for event detection may find it easier to decide on that technology first and seek out monitoring companies who support it.

Event Detection

The best method of event detection should be evaluated on a camera by camera basis.  Indoor locations can often use simple video motion detection, or conventional PIR motion detectors to trigger events.  Outdoor locations will generally require more exotic (and expensive) solutions, such as video analytics.  Outdoor applications will likely produce more false alarms, but have the distinct advantage of alerting the monitoring company before a perpetrator gains access to the building.  In our experience, customers who would otherwise require the service of a security guard company (i.e. construction companies) are much more willing to pay the additional costs associated with outdoor perimeter detection, including the increased false alarm costs.

Deterring Theft & Vandalism

Users currently employing security guards are often hesitant to hand over guarding responsibility to a video system.  Many cite the guards physical presence and ability to respond to situations immediately as valuable deterrents.  Sirens and strobes are options, but in many municipalities, police have developed very slow response times to conventional alarm systems (due to excessive false alarms).  Some thieves brazenly take this into account, and may not leave immediately because of a siren.  

We have found that systems that allow the monitoring company to audibly challenge intruders via loudspeakers to be extremely effective deterrents.  We witnessed a significant reduction in theft attempts when audio talk downs were employed at local construction sites.  Another common niche for audio talk downs are car dealerships.  In those cases monitoring companies don’t usually challenge after hours visitors, but gently remind them that they are being watched.  Another option is the use of high visibility signage that indicates that the site is monitored.  If allowed, large conspicuous cameras might actually be a plus for some users.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

The ISP

Many ISP’s prohibit the use of their network for hosting streaming video in their terms of service; some actively block it.  Such ISP’s should obviously be avoided.  Choosing an ISP and service plan that maximizes yourupstream data rate allows for higher camera counts, resolutions, and frame rates.  Since advertised and real world speeds often differ by a great margin, real-world tests should be conducted before significant investments are made.

ISP data rates are generally so much lower than that of the local network, that they must be considered during the design phase.  Reducing the required bandwidth becomes increasingly important.  Systems capable of utilizing different data rates for local recording and remote monitoring can avoid compromising the quality of recorded evidence to satisfy monitoring requirements.  Members should also study our reports on how bandwidth is impacted by the choice of codec, and (for low light scenes) the addition of IR illuminators.

Data caps are another consideration in choosing an ISP.  Especially important, is understanding how a given ISP reacts to users who exceed the set data cap.  Some will reduce throughput to a trickle, while others will cut off service (either temporarily or permanently).  For mission critical applications, seek out ISP’s who choose to simply charge for overages.  Integrators should also discourage unnecessary data consumption by the monitoring company and the end user by educating them on the data cap, and the implications of exceeding it.

We’ve found that a good event detection mechanism can help minimize or eliminate concerns over exceeding data caps.  By using analytics with conservative sensitivity settings, and disallowing remote viewing except by the monitoring company, we’ve successfully deployed a fifteen camera system over 3G wireless and never exceeded the 5GB cap set by the provider.  However, doing so required constant supervision and repeated “tweaks”.  We would recommend that integrators approaching remote monitoring for the first time seek out providers with significantly higher caps.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Monitoring

Global Real-Time Video Surveillance - EarthNow on Apr 20, 2018
A new company, EarthNow, with backing from Bill Gates, Airbus and more, is claiming that: Users will be able to see places on Earth with a delay...
Alarm.com Business Market Expansion on Apr 13, 2018
Alarm.com has millions of subscribers, but the company has traditionally been mostly a residential/home focused offering.  ADC's new Smart Business...
GDPR For Video Surveillance Guide on Apr 12, 2018
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on May 25, but there is much confusion and no clear guidelines on...
Eocortex / Macroscop VMS Company Profile on Apr 09, 2018
Eocortex is the international brand of Russian VMS manufacturer Macroscop. Macroscop was founded in 2008, and the Eocortex name created in 2013. We...
VMS New Developments Spring 2018 (Avigilon, Exacqvision, Genetec, Hikvision, Milestone, Network Optix) on Apr 04, 2018
What's new with VMS software? In this report, we examine new features and releases for Spring 2018 to track different areas of potential...
Cellular (4G / LTE / 5G) For Video Surveillance Guide on Mar 06, 2018
In this report, we explain using cellular for video surveillance including: 4G vs LTE vs 5G 4G standards 5G future Advantage: Placing cameras...
Door Position Switches (DPS) For Access Control Tutorial on Mar 05, 2018
Door position switches do not get enough respect. They solve a major problem of access control systems yet are frequently ignored or...
Assa's Lowest Power Draw Maglock: Securitron M680E Examined on Feb 14, 2018
Securitron produces some of the most extreme maglocks on the market, including massively strong maglocks and even ones with integrated CCTV cams...
Simplisafe 'All New' Generation 3 Tested on Feb 08, 2018
Feared by the traditional alarm industry, Simplisafe has launched its 'all new' Generation 3 platform that they declare is "Stronger. Faster....
"First Of Its Kind" Stove Knob Alarm Sensor (2GIG) on Jan 15, 2018
At CES 2018, 2Gig/Nortek announced the Stove & Grill Guard, a "first of its kind" sensor in the security industry, allowing users to be...

Most Recent Industry Reports

The Yolo Bro And The Death of Journalism on Apr 24, 2018
There's an old quote: The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable Unfortunately, the opposite is more...
DMP Adds Ring Video Doorbell Integration on Apr 24, 2018
Video doorbells have become one of the hottest items for security systems. After several years with no doorbell, DMP has announced integration with...
Milestone 2017 Financials Examined on Apr 24, 2018
For ISC West 2018, Milestone released ... their financials, touting "strong revenue growth in 2017". However, there were discrepancies with the...
Chinese Manufacturer Kickstarter Campaign Huge Success (EverCam) on Apr 23, 2018
In a week, a Chinese manufacturer's expertly done Kickstarter campaign has received $1.4 million in pledges, an incredible amount for a video...
Favorite Biometrics 2018 on Apr 23, 2018
Biometrics are on the rise, or at least integrator opposition to them is declining, according to new IPVM integrator statistics.   Almost half of...
Dahua and Hikvision Win Over $1 Billion In Government-Backed Projects In Xinjiang on Apr 23, 2018
Dahua and Hikvision have won well over $1 billion worth of government-backed surveillance projects in China’s restive Xinjiang province since 2016,...
May 2018 Camera Course on Apr 20, 2018
Save $50 on early registration until this Thursday, the 26th. Register now (save $50) for the Spring 2018 Camera Course This is the only...
Global Real-Time Video Surveillance - EarthNow on Apr 20, 2018
A new company, EarthNow, with backing from Bill Gates, Airbus and more, is claiming that: Users will be able to see places on Earth with a delay...
Dedicated Vs Converged Access Control Networks (Statistics) on Apr 20, 2018
Running one's access control system on a converged network, with one's computers and phones, can save money. On the other hand, hand, doing so can...
April 2018 IP Networking Course on Apr 19, 2018
This is the last chance to register for our IP Networking course. Register now. NEW - 2 sessions per class, 'day' and 'night' to give you double...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact