SJA Exclusive: Advanced alarms and intruder detection for intuitive security

Alarm - for intruder detection

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Eddie Sorrells and Kent Calhoun from DSI Security Services discuss how alarms and intruder detection systems have evolved to become more effective.

Can you tell me about yourselves and your roles at DSI?

ES: I currently serve as the President of DSI Security Services and have been with the company for 32 years.

I started as a security officer in 1991 and was fortunate enough to grow with the company and be mentored by a lot of great people throughout the industry as well.

Since DSI began in 1969, we have always been successful in supplying highly trained personnel, both armed and unarmed officers, but also in the last few years, we’ve been concentrating on what we refer to as blended services, which includes technology as well.

KC: I am the Manager of Electronic Security Solutions at DSI which is our technology division and I have been part of the DSI Leadership Team just under five years.

In my nearly 20 years in the industry, I have been focused mostly on the technology side of the business, as an integrator and manufacturer’s rep for several years.

I’ve spent more time on the tech side, rather than the man guarding side, which offers a lot of strengths to the company.

How have alarms and intruder detection evolved beyond their traditional forms?

ES: The industry has evolved to embrace blended solutions. I think back to 32 years ago when I was an unarmed security officer.

The intrusion detection and alarm capabilities we had to draw upon then are vastly different than now.

Up until just a few years ago, we were still relying on very common and legacy systems – for example, CCTV and traditional alarm and intruder detection signals.

Now with video analytics, remote video monitoring, autonomous response devices, robotics and more, we’re able to integrate advanced features into the entire security offering.

I think one of the biggest game-changers in the past ten years has been video analytics.

When we talk about alarms, we often have that traditional mindset; we think about an audible alarm or something coming up on the alarm panel.

Now, we can use video alarms to gauge intruder detection and initiate response.

KC: To add to that point, the accuracy of non-traditional intrusion detection or intruder alarm systems has advanced as well.

We’re seeing tremendous advancements in the use of AI and analytics for alarms and intruder detection.

Using these cameras and remote virtual monitoring can be helpful to reduce false alarms as well.

Whenever we have an actual human assessing an alarm, confirming whether someone is supposed to be in the area or not, obviously the false alarm cases reduce drastically.

Do you have any success stories?

ES: Just a year or so ago, we had two security officers protecting some very high value property. It was not very effective from a perimeter intrusion standpoint.

One officer was stationed at an access point while the other officer patrolled this large property. Intrusions over the fence line were fairly common.

There was video surveillance on the property, but it was not intuitive; it did not have analytics that were triggering alarms for intruder detection.

We came in and installed devices with robust video analytics that ensured an autonomous response.

It resulted in almost an elimination of intrusions because when someone approached the fence line, there was an instant response with voice down versus having to wait for an officer to get there.

KC: There is another property that has six cameras being monitored virtually overlooking a pool area. In the old days, we would have had an officer go by and check to make sure people weren’t in the pool at the wrong time.

Now, these six cameras are being monitored and if anybody comes in after hours or when they’re not supposed to, either an autonomous voice down is activated or a live operator can speak down to the intruders.

If they don’t vacate the premises, the authorities are called and not only are we able to offer real-time guidance to the authorities, we also have the entire event recorded for documentation.

What are the challenges within the realm of alarms and intruder detection?

ES: One of the biggest challenges is finding the right application and making sure that you’re using the tech the way that it’s intended.

If you’re having a problem with technology not working like it’s supposed to, sometimes it can be a misapplication but sometimes it’s a case of not having proper protocols in place.

If you don’t have a good policy and procedure in place to respond to alarms and intruder detection, then the security program won’t be effective.

KC: Another big challenge is cost; there are varying levels of alarms and intruder detection systems that might require more investment than others.

However, there is a need to protect a customer’s network and its integrity. When we start implementing these types of solutions, we have to be careful not to compromise the security of the customers network.

Virtual solutions can present vulnerabilities to the customers network if not done correctly. This increases the need to have a professional solution with a reputable and experienced company.

Providing effective and secure virtual solutions is more than just having an operator react to alarm or intruder detection.

For those who are looking at implementing a new alarm or intrusion detection system – what advice would you have for them?

ES: It requires an open mindset, but we always have to start with a foundational risk assessment.

I see a lot of people miss the step of asking: first of all, what am I trying to protect? What is the value to the organization? What’s the probability of loss? What is the impact on the organization if something does happen?

It sounds basic, but you have to start with these questions to really understand what problems you might have.

Is it intrusion on a fence line or is it something that’s happening internally like employee theft or pilferage?

I see people getting very expensive cameras and access control systems, but sometimes these aren’t the solutions to fix your biggest problem in the field of alarms and intruder detection.

KC: On the dealer side of that equation, it’s the same logic but it’s more about the development of a standard procedure that classifies how to handle events and the continued evolution of these events.

It is very important to find a good partner that can handle the virtual guarding service and be precise in what you’re willing to offer.

It’s very easy to go out and see a large solution that involves a lot of different solutions that can be offered to a customer.

However, if you haven’t got the proper processes in place to handle the solutions and a contingency plan in place when something happens, it is very hard to connect all the pieces.

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