The Many Layers of Live Video Monitoring
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What is live video monitoring?
Live video monitoring is a commercial security service that deters crime and helps reduce false alarms. It’s the gold standard of commercial security services because it combines two top-tier services: powerful artificial intelligence (AI) security cameras backed by professionally trained security specialists—also called video monitors—who review the live footage.
When a live video monitoring camera detects motion or an alarm is triggered, two actions happen at the same time:
- An automated recording plays to scare away the trespasser or intruder.
- A human video monitor verifies the threat and either verbally engages a trespasser through the speaker system or dispatches the appropriate authorities to the site of the event.
What live video monitoring is not
The term “live video monitoring” describes a specific type of security service and should not be confused with:
Closed Circuit TV (CCTV)
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is the system through which images are transmitted for video surveillance purposes. Unlike broadcast television, CCTV does not transmit images publicly; instead, images are sent between set points, usually for security purposes. CCTV differs from live video monitoring because it is not a service but a system, and “CCTV” refers to the camera equipment and surveillance system in general. Typically, with CCTV you monitor your own system in-house. CCTV equipment may be monitored by a professional as part of a greater security package, but alone it is not considered live video monitoring.
Video playback is the process of viewing footage of an event after it occurred, most often by in-house staff. Unlike video playback, live video monitoring footage is monitored in real-time, as it happens. Live video monitoring services are most often staffed by an outside security firm with specialized training in monitoring videos, assessing potential threats, and alerting authorities when necessary.
What are the main types of video monitoring services?
Not all live video monitoring services use AI and security specialists to proactively deter crime. Most monitored security services aim to just verify if alarm events are the result of an actual threat.
The main tiers of video monitoring services include:
Alarm video verification
This service ties cameras to a burglar alarm, so that they record and send footage to a video monitoring center if the alarm triggers. There, on-site monitors review or verify the footage to determine whether there is a true threat. Video verification helps reduce the incidence of false alarms, which can waste valuable resources and may even result in a fine for companies in certain jurisdictions.
With event-based monitoring, when advanced AI-powered cameras detect motion or unusual activity, they alert a security specialist to investigate further. If the monitor determines there is a legitimate threat they will then either issue a verbal warning over a speaker, deploy an on-the-ground security agent to investigate, or contact local authorities to respond immediately. With this service, the video monitor only has access to the clip of the alarm event versus a continuous live feed.
Live video monitoring
Live video monitoring offers the most robust protection available on the market. In this service, high-tech video cameras, powered by advanced AI-backed functions, stream high-quality images to security professionals who monitor the live footage. The advanced analytical capabilities of AI-backed cameras can tell the difference between harmless motion (like an animal or tree branch) and a true threat. Combine that with specially trained video monitors and live video monitoring represents a truly proactive approach to security that aims to prevent theft and vandalism before they occur.
Video surveillance has been around for almost a century and has evolved profoundly from its origins as a simple video transmission tool to a high-tech crime prevention strategy.
Origins of live video monitoring
Video surveillance was initially created in 1927 by Russian inventor Leon Theremin. He built a closed circuit TV (CCTV) system that was manually operated, featured 100 lines of resolution, and was posted at the entrance of the Kremlin to monitor visitors. Fifteen years later, similar CCTV systems were used by Nazi Germany in World War II to observe rocket launches; the first commercially available system appeared in the US in 1949—but was not widely adopted until much later.
How live video monitoring has evolved
In the 1960s, large cities like London and New York began posting CCTV cameras in train stations or crowded public areas. These cameras were not able to record footage, only transmit it—and required 24/7 monitoring. With the advent of video cassettes in 1969 and VCRs in 1971, users could finally record remote surveillance for the first time for later viewing, and video surveillance went mainstream.
Video surveillance systems gained momentum throughout the 1970s and 80s, but storage was limited, and many organizations could only keep a day’s worth of footage at a time. In the 1990s, IP (internet protocol) cameras, which transmit data over the internet, and digital cameras became available, and CCTV use began to decline.
Since 2000, IP cameras have rapidly increased in quality and use as advanced motor-operated lenses were developed, drastically improving image quality in all lighting conditions. The rise of cloud storage has eliminated the need for on-site recording and maintenance, providing organizations with lower-cost options and increased flexibility. More recently, AI-powered cameras have emerged, providing previously unheard-of benefits like “intelligent” motion analysis capabilities, instantaneous counting functions, and increased clarity on objects in motion. Some AI-backed cameras can even trigger an automatic warning to a trespasser, reducing dependence on live video monitoring staff.
Looking to the future, we can expect to see the live video monitoring industry increase its adoption of AI-powered devices and even shift into the wider use of robotics and drones. While widespread robotic and drone adaption faces some significant hurdles—including a strict regulatory environment and short-lasting batteries—the potential drones and robotics offer in safety to on-site staff and blindspot reduction suggest the technologies, when operated in tandem with live video monitors, will see an increase in adoption moving forward.
What are some features of live video monitoring?
Most live video monitoring services include features such as:
Cameras with AI
Today’s AI-powered cameras have the ability to provide businesses with previously unheard-of levels of protection. They feature advanced image clarity and sensitive fish-eye lenses that can focus on an object in motion; they can detect and analyze different types of movement to determine whether it is harmless (like a passing animal) or a true threat; and they’re able to perform advanced counting functions and report instantly on crowd size or inventory. AI-powered cameras are a true game changer in the security industry and continue to get better and better as technology advances.
Many video monitoring services feature audio systems designed to issue verbal warnings to thieves and trespassers. When the system detects a threat, a speaker will alert the trespasser that they are on camera and the authorities are on their way. In some systems, the verbal warning may be automated; in others, a live video monitor can engage the speaker system directly and warn the trespasser that they’re being monitored.
For outdoor areas that are too large to fence in, some live video monitoring services can include an “invisible fence” around a perimeter. A virtual fence will trigger an alarm when crossed and alert a live video monitor to investigate further or dispatch authorities if necessary.
Web platform or app
Live video monitoring systems are supported by comprehensive web platforms (or apps), where business owners can easily set up an account, add or delete users, download and review footage at their convenience, and verify alarm events. These platforms and apps are easy to use, provide valuable data to users, and allow business owners to stay connected and informed at all times.
Security agents who can intervene if necessary
The most robust live video monitoring security systems combine powerful AI-cameras, live video surveillance, and on-the-ground security agents who can work with video monitors to verify alarms and respond to incidents if necessary. While live video monitors always alert local authorities when necessary, an on-the-ground security agent may be the quickest option for assessing a threat or reaching a trespasser when an event is detected.
What are the benefits of live video monitoring?
Live video monitoring offers the most robust protection against theft and vandalism on the market. The main benefits include:
Proactive crime deterrence
Live video monitoring is the most proactive form of security a business can provide. It shifts the focus from responding to crimes that have occurred to preventing crimes from happening—by identifying threats as they develop. When professional video monitors, supported by AI-powered cameras, are keeping watch on your site in real time, the chances of preventing an incident increase dramatically.
Fewer false alarms
False alarms can waste valuable community resources and even trigger a financial penalty for organizations in certain jurisdictions. The advanced motion detection capabilities of AI-powered cameras can determine the difference between a harmless threat (like a flag waving or a moving animal), reducing the incidence of false alarms. An added layer is that professional video monitors will personally review a triggered event and determine whether to contact local authorities for a response.
All monitored video solutions come with monitoring services, but not all monitoring services are the same. Some alarm companies choose to outsource their work out of state or even out of the country. At Bay Alarm, our professionally trained security specialists monitor video feeds from our California-based monitoring center. They’re familiar with the latest trends in crime and vandalism in the areas they monitor and have well-established relationships with local authorities in the communities we protect.
Convenient cloud storage options
Most live video monitoring systems now come with cloud-storage capabilities. This allows users to easily access footage anytime, from anywhere, and provides increased data security. Footage stays safe for 30 days, with additional storage available if needed.
Easy-to-use platform and app
Most live video monitoring systems will come with a web platform or app to allow managers to stay connected at all times. These apps are intuitive and easy to use and allow business owners to review footage at their leisure or respond to triggered alarms.
Who is live video monitoring an ideal solution for?
Live video monitoring is a premium security solution. While most businesses would likely benefit from it, it may be especially useful in addressing the security needs of specific types of businesses, like:
Businesses in areas with high incidents of vandalism, trespassing, and theft
Live video monitoring can help businesses that struggle with vandalism, theft, and trespassing by helping them adopt a preventative approach to security. With advanced image quality, “intelligent” AI-powered capabilities, and highly trained security professionals working together to monitor a site when needed, organizations will be more likely to identify suspicious activity as it develops and prevent security events before they occur.
Companies with a lot of outdoor equipment
Outdoor equipment can be especially hard to monitor—and expensive to lose. With large areas and permeable perimeters, companies with a lot of outdoor equipment may benefit from the advanced security measures and motion-detection capabilities a live video monitoring service offers. Plus, the virtual fence capabilities are especially helpful for businesses without a physical fence or wall around their perimeter. The investment in the service pales in comparison to losing thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and productivity.
Auto lots and fleets
Auto lots and fleets cover large areas and include many blind spots for traditional security cameras, providing thieves and trespassers with ample opportunities to hide. Plus, with the recent boom in auto and catalytic converter theft, auto lots have become vulnerable targets for sophisticated thieves.
The advanced detection capabilities of AI-powered cameras provide live video monitors with increased visibility at auto lots at all times (even in the dark). When deployed in tandem with speaker systems that issue verbal warnings to trespassers, the service provides a previously unheard-of level of protection for auto lots and fleets.
Construction sides are complex environments with many blind spots, expensive equipment, and lots of movement throughout the day. Live video monitoring services can help keep construction sites safe and secure by ensuring managers get the most robust protection on the market: while advanced AI-powered cameras work to differentiate between harmless motion and true threats, specially trained monitors can respond quickly to events or triggered alarms.
Areas that can’t be fenced but need protection
For businesses with large outdoor areas that are not able to be fenced in, a virtual fence in combination with live video monitoring service is an ideal solution. When a virtual fence is crossed, an alarm and audio warning is triggered while a dedicated security specialist will respond immediately to review footage and alert the authorities if necessary.
Businesses with high-value inventory
For businesses with high-value inventory, it’s especially important to provide the most robust level of protection available. Live video monitoring represents a preventative approach to crime, as advanced AI-powered cameras and security specialists work together to stop thieves and trespassers in their tracks, rather than simply respond once a crime has occurred. The added costs of a premium security product pay off in the long run in the form of advanced crime deterrence.
For businesses with multiple locations, monitoring security footage is a complex problem that requires lots of well-trained staff. Outsourcing security to a live video monitoring service ensures your company gets robust protection from trustworthy professionals who are knowledgeable on the latest technologies and trends in crime and theft. It takes security services off your hands and puts it in the hands of experts.