Add video to monitored alarm systems

Issue 3 2021 Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection, Products

Most monitored intruder systems are ‘blind’; operators cannot visually check what has caused the alarm to go off, meaning they must rely solely on the intrusion alarm system and make a decision accordingly.

There is now an easy way to add visual verification to a new or existing monitored intrusion alarm system. The OPTEX Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution consists of network-based hardware, the OPTEX Bridge and a cloud-based solution that integrates with the monitoring station software platform.

The bridge gateway, available as a 4- or 12-channel model, connects with the alarm panel or panic buttons and pairs each sensor to an ONVIF-compliant camera to enable control room operators to see the cause of an alarm. Through cloud-based software, recorded video and live images are pushed to the operator who can also access the live view of the monitored site and assess the situation. In just a few seconds, the operator can send the event video to the customer or site caretaker for verification and decide whether to dismiss the event or dispatch a security response.

How does it work?

The OPTEX Bridge is a visual verification device that connects on one side to the alarm panel (wired or wireless panel) and on the other connects to ONVIF-compliant cameras or NVR. It will be securely connected to the Internet to communicate to the cloud-based Visual Monitoring portal. The OPTEX Bridge automatically detects cameras or NVRs on the network, allowing a quick and easy installation on site.

Through the Intelligent Visual Monitoring Portal, installers can configure and manage connected devices. It includes interactive features such as site maps where sensors and cameras can be positioned and the detection areas can be overlayed.

The 4-channel bridge enables four indoor or outdoor sensors to be paired up with four IP cameras and the 12-channel bridge provides connection for 12 sensors and cameras. More than one bridge device can be deployed on site to provide a larger visual verification system. The same configuration is possible with panic buttons, but panic buttons and sensors cannot be mixed on the same device as the monitoring logic is different.

IP and communication security

Network security was front of mind in developing the OPTEX Intelligent Visual Monitoring Solution. The OPTEX Bridge sends secure and encrypted data using TLS 1.1 and TLS 1.2 to the cloud and cannot be accessed via the network unless that access has been planned for maintenance purposes. That would be the only time the network port is open while in operation. Such an arrangement provides a very secure system and does not leave the site vulnerable to cyber-attack.

Security and privacy combined

Private property owners have in the past shown reluctance to have their home or business monitored by a third party as they have wanted to protect their privacy. With the Intelligent Visual Monitoring solution this is solved with a privacy feature, where the property owner can choose to have their security system set to privacy mode. Only when there has been an alarm raised, the control room operator will see a silhouette figure until the owner has lifted the privacy mode, will they then see what is going on in the property.

The solution gives the control room operator a better understanding of what is going on at the site being monitored. If the site is equipped with multiple sensors and multiple cameras, the operator can easily access the live views of those cameras, track activity and get a clearer idea on what level of response is needed. How many intruders are there? Are the intruders armed? All these important questions are verified and the response team can be updated to the situation.

Just as important is if the alarm is false. Has a large animal got into the homeowner’s garden? Have the children just come home from school without disarming the security system? These nuisance alarms will be quickly determined and would not require any response.

A collaborative approach

The visual verification solution is a collaborative approach to security, between the security company and the customer. The security company has access to a cloud-based portal that delivers a platform to manage all connected systems. Interactive elements allow customisation of site details with map views showing the location of cameras, sensors and detection fields. All devices can be managed remotely.

Alarm zones and sensors are supported by real-time health monitoring, creating reports to show the system is operating correctly.The control room now has video to help more accurately determine what is going on at the monitored site, making the decisions on behalf of the customer, but also working with the customer if the situation needs more clarity, by asking the customer to validate an event.

The solution has already been successfully launched in the United Kingdom, United States and some European countries. Now it is being rolled out in South Africa, with several security companies already adopting the solution, including Marshall Security and Nite Owl Security. OPTEX has also worked closely with Watchmanager, Listener and Patriot to integrate the software with their control room systems.

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