Buildings and related assets are very vulnerable to vandalism, theft and other crimes after employees have left for the day. Until recently, the choice for securing a property overnight was between expensive onsite human guards or static surveillance cameras and alarm systems reporting alarms that were up to 95 percent false.
Today, there’s a new option incorporating advanced computer technology to create what’s becoming known as remote guarding. Combining cloud-based software with passive cameras turns them into intelligent devices capable of rapidly analyzing alarms searching for humans or vehicles as the cause of alarms. As a result, 90 percent or more of false alarms are eliminated, allowing operators located in a central monitoring station to concentrate on true events.
Remote guarding security solutions often resolve issues rather than just observing, reporting and passing possible problems to law enforcement or a guard service. This new false alarm reduction platform is outperforming traditional methods of preventing crime during high-risk nighttime hours. Informal surveys of end users show reduced crime and false alarms following deployment of a remote guarding solution.
A well-designed remote guarding plan delivers facility coverage with cameras providing views of critical sites by establishing geo-fences that detect any activity happening within specified areas. It’s difficult to duplicate the performance on large sites with one or two human security guards as they can only be at one place at a time. Digitally marking areas of disinterest further reduces the number of false and unwanted alarms sent by each camera. Remote guarding is equally effective for use indoors at facilities such as data centers, pharmacies and correctional institutions.
The technology also adds two-way audio via a public address system to enable operators to engage intruders and let them know they are under surveillance. Audio commands often resolve situations before calling on law enforcement. Once law enforcement is contacted, the operators continuously monitor video and update officers to prevent them from walking into an unknown and dangerous situation.
Law enforcement leadership appreciates remote guarding on several fronts: officers have an added degree of safety while wasting less time on false alarms; and remote guarding provides investigative and prosecutorial support with audio and video recording of events.
Remote guarding enables a single monitoring center operator to view multiple sites simultaneously, respond to alarms and call for law enforcement assistance, if necessary. Other advantages of remote guarding include:
- Use of existing surveillance cameras, motion sensors and other security devices that are available 24/7.
- Security systems that can’t be intimidated, disarmed or improperly detain suspects unlike human guards.
- Cameras acting as a deterrent, especially when accompanied by signage alerting intruders they are under surveillance.
Remote guarding is made possible by software using artificial intelligence-based machine learning algorithms. Previously, many alarms resulted from harmless events such as wind-blown foliage or an animal moving across a camera’s field of view. Now, false alarms are nearly eliminated as the cloud-based software receives several shots from the camera initiating an alarm. Within a second, the algorithms make a true or false assessment to provide overwhelmingly genuine events to the monitoring station for review.
The software works with virtually all cameras and station software and is easily scalable as an organization expands and adds more cameras. And the AI-based software comes with a bonus: the machine learning technology becomes more accurate over time without further human assistance.
Remote guarding, with its “eyes” and “ears,” is seen as a force multiplier. However, there is still a role for human security guards as there are times an organization requires both physical and remote guarding to meet specific security needs. Human guards often handle events that otherwise would fall to local law enforcement. Remote guarding handles situations that might put a guard in complex or potentially harmful events, which has frequently been the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The virus led supermarkets, hospitals, testing facilities and other commercial facilities to request guards for handling disturbances related to enforcement of mask wearing and social distancing. Unfortunately, the frontline contact with large groups of people resulted in many guards contracting and the disease and dying from it. More than 90 guards in California died between March and December of 2020. Statistics from the United Kingdom show security guards having one of the highest death rates among all professions during the pandemic. Even with effective vaccines now available, health precautions are still required, making remote guarding an ideal solution.
Technology has changed the business of central station monitoring. Cloud-based software with false alarm reduction software is key. And other advances in artificial intelligence promise more capabilities for making remote guarding even more effective.