Alarm companies are just as aware of costs as any other business. Their central stations often cover thousands of customers, many of which have the same set of protection requirements. However, their average response time can vary greatly due to differences in the configuration of each Alarm company’s computer system. Incidents are usually handled automatically based on call priority (severity) and the time received. Customers often expect that their call will be forwarded immediately to the police or fire department: this is almost never the case, regardless of the technology in use. The time between initiation of the alarm and the arrival of security personnel at your premises can vary from minutes to hours. It’s always best to ask for a historical report regarding all calls to the Alarm Company in past years and to do your own evaluation. If you are the process of hiring a security protection firm, ask for details on their average response time to see what criteria they use to prioritize calls. Be sure that they inform you of situations when notification to authorities can take longer than normal, as would be the case during a large-scale emergency. To deal with an actual life-threatening event such as a fire in an occupied building, the person discovering the incident should contact the appropriate public agency as well as place an emergency call to the Alarm company. A 911 call is designed to elicit an immediate response, whereas a call channelled through the Alarm company’s system will take extra time.
Top-notch security often involves remote visual surveillance. The hardware required to provide suitable surveillance can be quite expensive. Older equipment can be upgraded in sections without requiring replacement of the entire system. I recommend that you start with the most critical item: the cameras. Current analogue camera technology offers significant improvements over the cameras that were being installed even two or three years ago. The most important feature of cameras is Image Resolution: the surveillance system must be able to capture events with sufficient clarity for viewers to be able to recognize what is going on. Today’s cameras can provide as much as 600 lines of resolution, whereas five years ago 480 lines was state-of-the-art. Contemporary cameras also have improved light sensitivity. With agile sensor technology such as “sense up” (an automatic increase of exposure time under low-light conditions), modern cameras can provide dramatically better low-light performance.
Another aspect to consider in a camera is Noise Reduction, an analogue feature that has changed radically in the last few years. The dynamic range of a camera defines its ability to view both very bright and very dark objects at the same time. The latest Wide Dynamic Range cameras capture clear images of people in both well-lit and dark areas at the same time. Digital Image Stabilization will eliminate the shake from an outdoor camera that gets buffeted in the wind. It improves the image quality by locking onto the objects that are not supposed to move, and adjusting the video. Monitors can be a weak link in the chain of image transmission and processing. CRT monitors will grow dimmer the more they are used, and for a 24-hour operation that time can add up quickly. The price of a good monitor has fallen dramatically, and most systems require only a few of these. There is one more important component: the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). An upgrade of your DVR machines will result in a significant improvement in the quality of recorded camera views and also offer the ability to zoom out for increased situational awareness. In either case, the move to a system with “D1 resolution” is well worth the upgrade.
This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, the bulletin publishers and authors do not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current and shall not be liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the bulletin information. Bulletin reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of Firepoint Inc. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. See www.firepoint.ca or call 905-874-9400.