When Dr Rudolph Zinn of the School of Criminal Justice recently did intensive research on the nature of robberies and attacks, he revealed some interesting findings: one being that alarms and armed reaction services are not a deterrent for robbers any longer, says Niven Perumal, product manager: Vox Telecom.

It makes sense – most of us will admit that we don’t naturally rush to investigate every time a neighbour’s alarm goes off. In fact, police forces have reported “false alarm” rates as high as 90%.

Making use of an armed reaction service or on-site guards also comes with its own share of difficulties. Guards that fall asleep, and even collusion and intimidation, are common problems being reported. (In terms of residential robberies, Zinn found that 8 of 10 are committed with the help of information from former employees).

Zinn believes that the best deterrents to prevent break-ins are CCTV, motion detection beams and dogs (the latter not being an option for most companies!). CCTV captures an image of an intruder, which is more likely to lead to their arrest, and therefore an effective way of protecting a home or business.

CCTV can even prevent burglaries before they occur – robbers will watch a property, on average, for two weeks before attempting to break in.

But not all CCTV monitoring services are created equally. Often, we find that there is a service element that is sorely lacking. Installers arrive without an installation plan, or leave without visually confirming that the camera is aimed at the area that the client actually wants to monitor.

This can lead to a myriad of issues when something actually goes wrong – either the intruder is not captured on film in the unfortunate event of a break-in, or the equipment fails and the technicians have to spent days literally tracing wires and equipment to find the fault.

And sadly, live monitoring of CCTV footage is subject to the same problems that companies have experienced with on-site guards. There are simply too many visuals, playing for too long of a time, for a monitor to pay adequate attention – they get bored, they might fall asleep, they might fail to spot an intruder.

Users need more intelligent, intuitive monitoring systems if they hope to protect their businesses and homes – proactive CCTV.

Rather than placing a guard in front of an endless stream of footage, night after night, the monitoring service should be event-triggered. When there is an incident – for example, motion is detected in the building or car park – the guards in the control room are alerted and able to visually confirm whether the activation was due to a perpetrator entering the area or simply by a stray cat setting off a car alarm.

This not only minimises false alarms, but allows for the fastest possible appropriate action – such as deploying emergency services or armed guards, who (as the incident is confirmed visually) invariably make the incident a priority response.

This is particularly important for businesses who keep expensive equipment outside as opposed to in a storage unit – because thieves aren’t breaking into a building, they won’t set off an alarm. Motion detection can pick up movements in the viewed area.

There are also financial and maintenance considerations. Opting for a managed service offering, financed by the monitoring company, rather than the bank can be a lot quicker and more affordable to implement. Does a company offer a maintenance swop-out service if the equipment is faulty? How often do they clean the equipment and re-focus the cameras? (Most don’t do either – and should.)

There are a myriad of options available when it comes to monitoring both the home and business – but not all are created equal. It’s important to conduct thorough research before making a decision…or users will find themselves installing expensive equipment in vain.