RMR For The Cost Of A PIR

Exploring the benefits of cameras and smartphones equipped with motion sensors

The world has changed. Free video is everywhere. Nobody carries a separate camera anymore—everything is a camera, including laptops, iPads and cell phones. Video is now a part of life and consumers expect it that way. If laptops, cell phones and iPads have video cameras, why not PIR motion sensors? Why are dealers still forced to spend the extra time and money installing separate IP cameras when they already install wireless electronic sensors?

The MotionViewer changes this by combining a wireless PIR with a camera; one more device with its own camera at the cost of a wireless PIR. Video is now free for the alarm industry as well.

Smartphone Surveillance is not Security

Alarm installers are selling cameras, but not as alarms. Smartphone surveillance systems are now sold by alarm dealers, Amazon and Comcast, among others. Regardless of the sales channel, the basic concept is the same: install IP cameras and use a smartphone for remote viewing.

In the alarm world, dealers sell smartphone surveillance as an alarm addon in the same way they sell thermostats as “wireless energy management.” Like thermostats, cameras are sold as a “personal convenience” and not truly integrated into the monitored alarm. With few exceptions, access to IP cameras is limited to the property owner and the central station never sees video with the alarm.

From the installers view, wireless alarm systems running on batteries revolutionized the alarm industry, saving time and money and now represent the majority of new installations. In contrast, the IP cameras are always wired for power, and even Wi-Fi cameras need power cords. While sold together, the wireless alarm system and wired surveillance cameras are fundamentally disconnected. Alarm sensors are professionally monitored for life safety. The cameras only provide a “convenience feature,” for viewing children, pets or employees, not greater security.

What is Police Response Worth?

The value of video verification to deliver arrests and reduce false alarms is undeniable. Video alarms link the camera to central station monitoring for priority police response. A video alarm sends the video clip of what caused the alarm to the central station operator for immediate review and dispatch. The arrest rates can be much more than a traditional alarm. Presently, law enforcement studies document arrest rates for traditional alarm arrests at 0.08 percent in San Jose, Calif; in 2010, arrest rates were only at 0.02 percent. In contrast, video alarms have documented arrest rates that can exceed 50 percent. Police make arrests because they respond to a video alarm as a crimein- progress, and consumers and insurance companies are willing to pay for the extra value.

What is this worth? To put this in perspective, in 2011, the average Chula Vista, Calif., Police Dept. response time for a video verified alarm was 5 minutes and 5 seconds, while the response time for a traditional burglar alarm is 19:18. This means that an average property owner will receive police response almost 15 minutes sooner with a video alarm. The question is, “What is 15 minutes worth to a commercial property owner?” The answer may lie in another question: “What can a group armed with sledge hammers and spray paint do in my business in 15 minutes?”

A more detailed analysis looks for a price tag on the value businesses place on police response. One indicator is false alarm fines. Most municipalities impose false alarm fines, some exceeding $250 for each false alarm. Some cities go further and actually stop responding after a specified number of false alarms. However, alarm response is so important that many companies actually budget false alarm fines as a business expense instead of losing response. Several major national retailers budget more than $250,000 per year on false alarm fines. For a business, even a 19 minute alarm response is worth a quarter million dollars. Anything is better than nothing.

Imagine the value of saving 15 minutes. Companies are willing to pay large false alarm fines for limited response. Now, they have the option of priority response—and reduced false alarm fines—for the same cost.

A Product Revolution

Videofied brings alarm/look-in/ wireless/battery together in one easyto- install product that builds on the “battery-powered devices” concept that has become standard for mainstream alarms. The PIR detector in the MotionViewer acts like any other wireless PIR to detect intruders.

The PIR concept is not new or unique. What is unique is the integrated battery-powered camera like those found in cell phones and other electronics. After detection, the integrated camera captures the intrusion event and sends the video clip directly to the central station for review and dispatch by a trained operator— a real video alarm for priority response and greater security.

In addition, the new indoor MotionViewer also provides smartphone look-in, sending the property owner a full color VGA video or photo to a smartphone on demand. The Look-In feature is restricted to the property owner and the smartphone app. Video alarms go to the central station for greater security. For the price and easy install of a wireless PIR, MotionViewer delivers video verification and smartphone look-in with incremental RMR and greater value.

Wireless/Battery Powered Smartphone Look-in

Battery-powered MotionViewers are truly wireless, easily installed and easily moved to meet the changing needs of the property owner. With no wires or transformers, residential applications must include style and aesthetics. But it has to work in the real world. It is not a gimmick; exceptional battery life makes smartphone look-in a pragmatic solution instead of a quick sales tool.

Two AA lithium batteries power MotionViewer for five years in the typical alarm mode. While remote viewing certainly impacts battery consumption, MotionViewer can still deliver a VGA snapshot on demand every hour for six months on the same two batteries.

Residential and commercial consumers and any market that currently installs wireless PIRs are all ripe for the transition to video alarms and the promise of greater security.

Consumers understand that video verified alarms make a difference in police response and arrests. Smartphone surveillance closes the deal. The ability to remotely view with a smartphone app now seems normal. And because it costs the same as a wireless PIR, it has become normal. The industry is at a tipping point, allowing dealers to finally give the consumer the camera they have come to expect, video RMR, for the cost of a PIR.

This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Security Today.

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