What are the Myths and Benefits of CCTV Monitoring?
We asked a remote monitoring expert to take a look at the myths and the benefits around CCTV monitoring services. Discover what's really possible for security installers and their clients.
Demystifying CCTV monitoring
Many companies worry about the complexity of remote video surveillance (CCTV) and alarm monitoring, so we asked a monitoring expert to take a look at the myths surrounding these services and provide some hard facts that might make you look at this in a different light.
We asked remote monitoring expert Chris Coughlin from Southern and Northern Monitoring Services to help demystify the world of CCTV monitoring and explain some of the key benefits to security installers and their clients. Chris has many years of CCTV monitoring experience with an extensive history of supporting retail and logistics sectors.
What is CCTV Monitoring and What are the Myths Around it?
CCTV monitoring is used as a cost-effective alternative to a member of staff on-site, such as manned guarding from a security guard service. Let’s compare the myths with the facts around CCTV monitoring. Let's look at some of the myths surrounding CCTV monitoring as a security solution.
MYTH #1: “CCTV monitoring is just paying for a security guard to sit at home watching your CCTV instead of having them on-site, which makes it more expensive because you can’t get them to do anything else.”
This is easily the main myth I hear around CCTV monitoring and when remote CCTV access first came out, it may certainly have been the case! But let’s compare this to what a modern CCTV monitoring solution currently provides;
The FACT is CCTV monitoring is used by a Security Operations Centre (SOC) or Remote Video Receiving Centre (RVRC) to conduct a range of activities, including;
Responding to alarms generated by the cameras on-premises
Responding to alarms generated by other systems, such as fire doors and intruder alarms, to visually verify what has happened
Running scheduled “remote guard tours”, which is a virtual version of a security guard patrol
Conducting health and safety checks, such as making sure a fire door isn’t obstructed or that dangerous equipment hasn’t been left accessible to unauthorised members of staff.
All these activities are either programmed on a schedule or are driven by an alarm, therefore you’re only paying for when an alarm is actually activated, making it a very productive and cost-effective solution. In the ideal scenario, the SOC / RVRC is sent a trigger image by the on-site NVR; this is analysed utilising Artificial Intelligence technology, and if it is found to contain a moving human or vehicle, then it is flagged to the operator for action. If the image was triggered by bushes, flags, or anything else then the image is not presented to an operator and treated as a false alarm.
MYTH #2: "Very similar to the previous point, the main myth around CCTV Monitoring is centred around “a security guard sitting and watching a huge bank of screens" (like this...)
The FACT is modern CCTV Monitoring is 100% driven by schedules and alarms. While you do see a video wall (the big screen in the background above) in most Security Operations Centres or Remote Video Receiving Centres – it’s more of a broad overview unit as opposed to an essential functional unit.
Alarms can be generated through a range of devices and analytics that really broaden the use of CCTV;
Traditional alarms, such as intruder / panic / fire
Environmental alarms, such as refrigeration / flood / carbon monoxide
Basic CCTV analytics, such as motion detection / line crossing
Advanced CCTV analytics, such as loitering / tailgating / queue / object removal / unattended baggage
MYTH #3: "CCTV is complex to set up and is not worth my time getting into it."
The FACT is there is little stopping you from providing CCTV monitoring services to your customers. There is also a wealth of support available from our technical team at Southern and Northern Monitoring who can talk you through the process from start to finish. There are just a few simple questions you need to answer to assess whether a client meets the requirements for remote monitoring:
Does the customer have a static IP address?
Have the NVR ports been opened? Each NVR uses different ports on the customer’s router.
Do you have usernames and passwords for all the cameras to allow us access?
Does the customer have a restrictive firewall on-site? If so they will need to allow our Immix server access.
There are many different solutions available for remote monitoring, each designed to suit the unique requirements and complexities of your customers' needs, and we can support you with them all. Next, we'll look at what options are available and the benefits of each.
What Different CCTV Monitoring Solutions Are There?
We offer several different options when it comes to CCTV Monitoring, but the two main routes are visually verified or camera activated. There’s also the option for scheduled activities, such as guard tours.
Visually verified CCTV monitoring
The entry-level service option for CCTV Monitoring is visually verified – all the activity is driven by an external device, such as an intruder alarm, meaning the activation counts are quite low.
Camera activated CCTV monitoring
The next level of CCTV monitoring is camera activated – the activity is now driven by the analytics on each camera, which can be as basic as line crossing, or in the more advanced range with loitering or unattended baggage. A few additional factors come into play when pricing this – size of the system, type of analytics used and volume of activations.
Bespoke monitoring activity
The top-level of CCTV monitoring can be used to blend several services together, such as camera-activated CCTV monitoring with a guard tour every eight hours to check all the external doors, plus remote audio challenge when a risk is identified.
Sounds expensive right? Not necessarily, consider this...
Each Guard Tour costs just a few pounds each.
In many situations, a CCTV solution can be put together which would be chargeable to your customer at under £10k per year for 24/7 coverage. When comparing this to the manned guard pricing, it’s up to 90% cheaper to have CCTV Monitoring! That’s a significant cost reduction for your client and still healthy margins for you!
What about the equipment and software?
As previously mentioned, Southern and Northern Monitoring Services can provide the technical support you need to suit the unique needs of your customers.
We use Immix as our video handling platform and most CCTV systems are compatible with Immix. More complex systems such as Milestone and Genetec take more detailed configurations, but these are generally kept for more advanced major site installations.
How Security Installers Can Support Their Clients with Remote CCTV Monitoring
The perception of CCTV monitoring has sometimes been that of a cost-prohibitive and complex service. However, in recent years it has become more accessible and is now certainly a strong alternative to traditional manned guarding.
Pairing this up with a Keyholding and Alarm Response Provider can certainly make it the modern alternative to the traditional manned guarding model, which remains unchanged since the 1800s.
What must installers consider when it comes to CCTV Monitoring?
There are a number of questions that security installers should ask to help their customers choose the best options for CCTV monitoring.
Does the customer need a Police response? If yes, there are two options. An Intruder alarm supported Visually Verified System or a BS8418 compliant system. We have a basic BSIA guide to compliance available on request.
Does the customer have a closed site (gates and fenced perimeter)? If the site is open to the public, this makes monitoring very challenging. Our policy is to call a responder if Human Activity is seen after an alarm trigger/camera activation.
Will the customer have set monitored hours, or will they arm and disarm the system manually? Some sites signal to us 24/7 but our software suppresses the alarm during hours when staff are due on site. For this to work, the working hours need to be defined and regular. If the hours are fluid, the client must have an arm/disarm function.
How can installers plan for long-term success?
When it comes to the installation and implementation of remote CCTV monitoring, there are also a number of factors that will help you make it a success:
How big is the required area of protection and how many cameras are there? Large areas with few cameras limit detection success. Operators must have a clear view of the protected area, with good resolution.
Camera Positioning: The cameras and detection must not show any public spaces that are not part of the intended areas of protection. Cameras need to be positioned so that off-site activity does not generate an alarm. Masking cameras or detectors can help with this. The worst performing systems capture movement from neighbouring businesses or passing traffic.
Lighting: The most common cause of failed detection by an Alarm Handler is poor lighting.
Regular Cleaning and Maintenance: The client needs to remove cobwebs or foliage obstructions regularly - especially in the summer months.
The System must send Trigger Images: Systems must be capable of sending trigger clips – as if the detector activates, it could be a minute or two before the Operator can view live images – if the suspect has moved in that time, it will be missed without being able to view the trigger images.
Agree the Monitoring Procedure before going live: The most common reason for customer complaints is caused by a lack of understanding of our processes or a mismatch in the client’s expectations and the service we deliver. Some key points to agree on are things like; hours of protection, who to alert in the event of an incident, do they need alerts if a camera fails or connection is lost, and are they aware of excess activation charges?
Don’t neglect cybersecurity – our partners at Calipsa have produced this helpful guide that walks you through the key considerations.
To discuss the Southern and Northern Monitoring products and services you can provide to your clients, please complete the form below, give us a call on 0844 871 2223 or complete the form below.