Ask the Expert
This month's expert, J. Matthew Ladd, discusses the value of central station monitoring
- By J. Matthew Ladd
- Sep 01, 2008
A family leaves their home early in
the morning expecting to return
to it as they left it. But when they
arrive home that evening, they find their
house ransacked. During the day, burglars
broke a window to gain entry and rummaged
through personal belongings, helping
themselves to expensive jewelry, cash
and electronic equipment.
Across town, a large data center was left
unattended over a long holiday weekend.
The air conditioning units failed as temperatures
outside topped all-time records.
Computers began to overheat and shut
down, jeopardizing critical information.
When a downtown bakery’s water pipe
burst overnight, the water began to quickly
build up in the walls, eventually bursting
through and ruining hundreds of
pounds of sugar and flour and damaging
Each event may have had a better outcome
if a central station were monitoring
the home and businesses. Had the homeowners
installed a monitored burglar
alarm system, operators at the central station
would have been immediately notified
of the break-in and called the police.
Temperature sensors in the data center
could have triggered an alarm, alerting a
station operator to call a business manager
to remedy the situation before the computers
overheated. Moisture monitors in
the bakery could have helped prevent
costly damage by giving the business
owner early notification of a problem.
ISSUE: How does central station monitoring
SOLUTION: Monitored systems can
help protect against property damage and
even save lives. Trained professionals
watch over their customers’ homes and
businesses 24 hours a day, seven days a
week. Today’s technology goes far
beyond basic burglar and fire alarm systems
and now provides a host of protective
According to reports from municipalities
across the country, up to 98 percent
of alarm calls to police and fire departments
are false. However, this analysis
does not include the thousands of systems
that do not signal an alarm unless there is
a real threat. User error is the leading
cause of false alarms, and an experienced
and trained central station company can
help prevent such alarms, thereby providing
better security for all.
ISSUE: What role can video surveillance
systems play in monitoring?
SOLUTION: Video monitoring helps
deter false dispatches. With video monitoring,
station operators not only receive
an alarm signal, but they also can obtain
a video clip of what caused the alarm.
Operators can check to see if there is a
valid explanation for an alarm.
Many businesses already have surveillance
cameras in place. By integrating
them into the alarm system, first
responders can access visual verification
of an event.
Some central station operators also
provide their own private patrol units and
can send a security officer to check on
alarms. This can save false alarm fees
and, in the event of a real emergency, put
a trained officer on the site within minutes.
After assessing the situation, the
officer can determine if the police or fire
departments are needed.
There are more than 2,700 central
stations in the United States, but less
than a hundred have Five Diamond
Certification. Be sure to look for a station
operator with experience and
expertise to ensure you get the alarm
system you need, as well as the training
and support to make sure it functions
READER QUESTION: The surveillance
cameras in our parking garage
are routinely vandalized. At first,
they were smashed with baseball bats
and crowbars.We put them into hardened
casings, but now the vandals
sneak in at night and paint them
with black spray paint. Do you have
any suggestions for how to overcome
SOLUTION: As video verification is a
tool for standard burglar alarms, video
analytics is a tool for video surveillance.
With analytics and integration to burglar
alarms, if your system detects the
approach of a vandal or criminal, the system
triggers video recording. A clip of
the action can be stored and sent out for
video verification by a central monitoring
station. Contact your local system integrator
for a demonstration on how this
technology can provide you with prevideo