The trend toward alarm verification in the security industry is now more relevant than ever, with studies showing that on average 98% of alarms are false in nature. This movement is due to the fact that traditional alarm systems lack the ability to provide the information needed for a central station to determine if law enforcement action is needed, or if some other less critical event is occurring.

Traditional alarm systems have proven successful at notifying a central station at the time of an alarm occurrence; but historical data proves that the majority of these notifications are, in simplest terms, just data reports from an alarm system. Without methods to determine whether or not an alarm occurrence is a result of a crime in progress, law enforcement takes unnecessary action in response to these events, presenting a large burden and cost to their departments. And further, these systems pose a risk to law enforcement officers who may become complacent and lack preparedness due to the perception that most traditional alarms are false alarms, which may result in injury.

Recent movements have shown that law enforcement ranks traditional alarms as less of a priority now — as they should, since the majority of their responses require no action and result in few apprehensions or police reports. However, property owners may not understand these dynamics and have a false sense of security when using traditional alarm systems. The terrifying reality is traditional alarm systems have positioned themselves in the alarm industry as the ones “crying wolf,” which has opened up a new and relevant space in the alarm market for verified alarms. In response, the alarm industry has been forced to adapt and intelligently discriminate on the alarm event before dispatching authorities.

The term “verified alarm” can mean many things. In the initial steps to distinguish a critical alarm from a non-critical alarm, and reduce the percentages of false alarms, procedures such as enhanced call verification and multi-trip detection technology were introduced into the security market. However, these steps to verify alarms do not always confirm if a crime is in progress. True verification of an alarm event only comes from live audio, video, or an eyewitness account. Technology-driven verification equips central stations with the tools to better provide law enforcement with the information needed, based on the audio and/or video they are able to receive real-time from the alarm location, resulting in better police safety and greater numbers of apprehensions.

Sonitrol introduced audio verification to the security market over 50 years ago, and more recently, video verification was introduced to the industry. The combination of these two types of verification offer the best solution to provide the technology needed to better assist central station operators in distinguishing crucial alarm events from simple alarm data. Several cities have declared themselves as verified cities, and have highlighted and prioritized verified alarms over non-verified alarms, and that number will only continue to grow. In addition to the growing number of cities moving towards verified response standards, the formation of committees, such as Partnership for Priority Verified Alarm Response (PPVAR), help convey the importance of verified response and create standards. We will continue to see significant movement towards the rapid adoption of verified alarm response because of the temporal significance of the use of traditional alarm systems, increased deployment of do-it-yourself (DIY) alarm systems, and fewer resources within law enforcement. An alarm generated by a traditional alarm system will have lower priority to law enforcement, and will be viewed more as a deterrent, rather than a means to stop an actual crime in progress.