Reducing false alarm probability

Reducing false alarm probability

False alarms can be costly and risky. Volodymyr Lugovsky, Presales Technical Manager at Ajax Systems, looks at the systems available to reduce false alarm probability and how they stack up.

While few commercial properties would be without some kind of alarm system to protect against malicious acts, unfortunately, there is no such thing as a 100% accurate alarm system. False alarms can – and do – happen. And with worrying regularity too. According to research from the US Community Orientated Policing Services, between 94-98% of alarms are false. And it can be a costly event if the alarm is responded to. Reports from the Fire Industry Association say false alarms in the UK cost around £1bn annually.

A high prevalence of false alarms can also lead to alarm fatigue – which can ultimately cost lives. In this scenario multiple and regular false alarms leave residents likely to ignore alarms, assuming it is yet another false alarm.

While the likelihood of false alarms is something the security systems market has come to terms with, there are some solutions to try to reduce false alarm probability. Ultimately the most important thing companies in the Middle East can do is to ensure they’re using the most reliable security equipment and that it has been installed by a professional. Organisations can also look at different verification solutions to minimise the chances of a false positive.

Alarm verification by two or more detector triggers within a short timeframe

This type of alarm verification can remove the false triggering seem with one detector, but it still doesn’t protect against user error – which is often the main cause of most false alarms. However, it does have its downsides. Namely verification can take time, and in the case of a security breach every second counts.

Alarm video verification

Motion detectors installed alongside a security system are used together with cameras that enable the cause of the alarm to be checked. Again, it’s not a fool proof solution. The type of surveillance system required is costly to instal if this is its only purpose and it can suffer with poor battery life making it timely to maintain. Complicated configuration of the DVR camera systems, cloud data recording and the general facility infrastructure add to the tricky nature of this solution.

Alarm photo verification

Similar to the alarm video verification, this solution verifies or not a false alarm by checking photos from the motion detectors camera. Verification is enabled by the special security equipment with the option of visual verification, which is the next generation of motion sensor equipment. This solution can significantly improve security systems but importantly doesn’t require huge installation and maintenance costs.

The benefits of alarm photo verification

Alarm photo verification actually dates back to some older technology, from the video surveillance industry’s infancy. Invented in the 1940s, very early models of video surveillance actually used video cameras that took low quality grainy images and then transmitted them to a stationary TV monitor which could be monitored and if necessary, an alarm activated.

Today, though some systems allow a photo to be taken by request, the vast majority of detectors only take photos when triggered by a motion to raise an alarm. This significantly reduces privacy concerns and makes it a particularly effective solution for addressing the verification of false alarms. Aside from this, photo verification equipment generally requires little in the way of security system reconfiguration, which helps to keep costs down, reduce the time needed for the upkeep and minimises the effort of installation and maintenance.

Today’s alarm photo verification solutions are a far cry from what was available in the past. They come packed with high value features to ensure they are speedy and reliable in raising and identifying a true alarm. For example:

Speed: Photo detectors can raise an alarm in a split second after a motion is detected and take less than 10 seconds to verify if the alarm is true or false. This is significantly faster in comparison to video surveillance alarm verification through several triggerings.

Quality of photos: Modern photo verification systems generate high-quality images which make it possible to easily identify people. In addition, by sending a series of photos to the monitoring company the equipment allows the tracing of events after the alarm triggering.

Reliability: New systems are based on radio protocols and use radio channels to transmit signals and photos, rather than using existing WiFi at the facility. This ensures rapid delivery of the photo and a reduced chance of connection loss.

Large distance of wireless connection: New wireless motion detectors can be set up at a distance of more than 1,500meters away from the central panel. Unlike wired connections which were based on equipment with receiver ranges of just several hundred metres. This means one system can monitor a multi-storey building or even several facilities simultaneously.

Autonomy and long service life: Thanks to innovative detector battery improvements, modern photo alarm verification systems are autonomous and operate for up to four years on the pre-installed battery.

Easy system upgrade: Saving time and costs, there are some photo verification solutions that do not require a complete re-installation of security systems. Only a motion detector and a central panel replacement are needed for the upgrade.

While no system yet is capable of eliminating the probability of false alarms, alarm photo verification offers optimal choice in terms of cost and value. It enables the rapid and effective response in the event of an incident, while also being easy to install and maintain.