When I first started in the electronic security business, life was relatively simple.

Security systems came in only a few different flavours. Monitored, or not monitored. Monitoring was either by dial up or direct line including Securitel.

If you had a monitored system and it went into alarm then one option was to call the Police to attend the scene. This situation changed when the cost of systems started to decline and there was a greater and much fiercer competition for customers.

As more and more companies entered the market, prices went down but also so did standards. This was evident both in installation practices and also in customer training. The first and most obvious result was the decision of Police forces around the country to stop attending domestic alarms unless there was third party verification. At one point the statistics showed that over 90% of all alarms were false alarms. The security industry being full of entrepreneurial folk quickly came up with a solution. Rather than a Police response they would now provide a guard response. This unfortunately did not result in “happy ever after” for customers. As the installation teams had little incentive to do anything but get the job done as quickly as possible and if there were random alarms then that became a recurring revenue for the guard response side of the business.

This continued for many years and was until fairly recently the only way to protect your home or business using electronics and manpower.

What changed the game was the growth in CCTV and more specifically Internet Protocol CCTV or IPTV. As manufacturing and design has grown in China over the last ten years, the quantity of security products has dramatically improved and the cost has plummeted. The other and obvious result is the increasing spread between the cheap and cheerful end of the market and the pricier professional equipment. It seems as though every body and there their dog has a mate with a factory in China.

So we end up with a huge spread of choices and at the top end of the market once the cameras have IP connectivity then a smart IT guy can work out how to send pictures from your house to your I-phone.

But is this security, and how good is that picture?

The answer is probably good enough for some people but not for a security professional. Knowing that there is an intruder or burglar in your home is only the first step in a risk response plan.

The question is what do you do next? The answer you get will depend on a number of variables including, how close are you, who are you, how many of you are there, do you recognize the intruder?

If you are placed in this situation you will soon realise that the management of the response to an alarm is much different to the recognition of an alarm condition.

This has been evident to those in the security industry for a very long time and the solution has also been obvious and that is video verification of an alarm condition in a security control room. This is something of a holy grail type quest in the industry and has only just been successfully accomplished. I will tell you more about that another time.

The first and most successful supplier to fill this gap was, and still is Mobotix but there were many failed attempts before including one that I and a bunch of engineers put together. The reason that we and others tried is that as mentioned in my previous article, it is the only way that the general public and small business owners have of ensuring an adequate police response to a criminal event.

There are now several other high quality IPTV systems available from credible manufacturers at various price points. The main differentiator is now the use of bandwith and therefore the impact on company networks.

There is however another major benefit of using IP systems and that is the playback. By recording digital rather than analogue information the replay can be an exact copy of the original recorded images. Most analogue CCTV systems record images in PAL (520 lines) format ( in Australia) and due to the restrictions on storage equipment will recall or playback in CIF or 352 lines leading to a significant degradation of image quality.

If you already have an analogue system this is something that you can easily check by  video taping a simple matrix such as a chess board and comparing live and recorded images.  Most people including security staff are surprised when they look at recorded video. The reason being that the recording is often of little or no value. The causes are many and range from dirty lenses on cameras to old and useless videotape.  The rule for videotape is do not use it more than ten times, quite a lot of security people know that but  I have rarely seen a marker on a tape cassette showing how many times it has been used.

The other common storage systems are Digital Video Recorders. These have been in common  use for the last five  or so years. They do not suffer the same degradation as tapes but are liable to two other common risks. The first is that of hard disk failure. This is more likely, if price was a major consideration in the purchase. The other is poor training by the security provider in the correct use of the system. This can lead to what is often called user error but is in fact a provider fault..and often results in deleted or damaged files.

If you were fortunate enough or smart enough to use a licensed security  consultant prior to the purchase of your system then you have probably avoided most of these problems.  If not then all is not lost.

We can offer you a free initial consultation. This could identify any  gaps or holes in your defence against crime.

We look for weakness in procedures, systems and equipment. Our findings are free of bias towards any manufacturers or security companies.

If you have read my article and have any doubts then please feel free to contact us for a free initial consultation.

You can contact Martin by email:, or Allied Risk Solutions to assist you further on (02) 9635 0477.

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