False alarm! A CCTV monitoring company’s biggest nightmare

False alarm! Another one….. its not just fire alarms, smoke detectors and intruder systems that cause problems. CCTV systems have problems to and its something that CCTV monitoring companies are desperately trying to reduce. It is quite frankly the weakest point of any remote monitoring system and as more and more CCTV systems are remotely monitored then the False alarm situation becomes a bigger and bigger headache. Just like a smoke detector false alarm, very very irritating.

false alarm

External CCTV

So what is the main cause of false alarms. Well mainly the fact that CCTV monitoring is primarily used in external scenarios. External sensor technology has as yet failed to come up with a solution to all the disruptive factors that can be thrown at it such as wind, rain, sunshine overgrowth, wildlife and more often than not ill disciplined staff who quite frankly forget to switch off the alarm as they enter the premises.

Making the decision

All this causes huge difficulties for the central station. Firstly the operator is often put in an untenable position of deciding whether a person seen on site is genuine i.e. a false alarm or whether the are about to commit a crime. Many a court case has hinged on the operators decision and one can only feel sympathy for them. Then there is the continuous false alarm. This is where a tree or bush or flag has been placed in front of a sensor and is causing the sensor to send spurious signals through to the central station. Most central stations will simply disable the camera in this case leaving the end user very seriously exposed to crime. Hardly an ideal situation.


So is there a solution? Well BS8418 was specifically introduced to encourage professional companies to install good quality kit, Adpro springs to mind. Also everyone wants to ensure all the downfalls we have highlighted above were avoided. Effectively a false alarm charter using a control panel to filter alarms before they are dispatched means only genuine sensor triggers should get through and a log will help installers track down the cause of a false alarm far more quickly and efficiently. However there is a problem.

Cheap DVR

Cheap remote monitoring solutions have suddenly flooded the market place. Even the most basic DVRs can now trip alarms via broad band through to the monitoring centre. The problem monitoring stations face is, do they turn down business in order to ensure quality and false alarm reduction or do they just accept that false alarms are a prerequisite of external CCTV systems and just get on with it, accepting liability for break ins knowing that the increase in connections should cover any loss. To help avoid this the important thing for the monitoring station is to deploy good front end software that will mean alarm handling is easy whatever alarms may hit the operators screen.

A fine balance

So there is a very fine balance, but if someone, anyone, could bring out an external PIR that was intelligent enough to reduce or even stop the false alarm issue, together with well designed front end alarm handling software then utopia could be achieved and we would find that some very stressed central station managers could get on with their jobs without false alarm issues hanging over their heads and provide the CCTV industry with effective and efficient monitored CCTV systems

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