A late-night alarm comes into a local monitoring center indicating suspicious activity at a customer’s strip mall and center operators call law enforcement for a response. When the officers arrive, they find a few stray dogs running through the property, making this one of the 36 million false alarms first responders receive annually.
Some people might shrug and say, “No big deal, right?,” but beyond the immediate aggravation, false alarms are expensive, time-consuming and potentially dangerous. Up to 98% of some alarms companies’ calls to law enforcement are false. Nationally, the annual cost for officers responding to these alarms nears $2 billion, plus officers are tied up responding to non-events, delayed responses to genuine alarms may result in people being hurt, even killed, and valuable assets may be stolen or vandalized.

What’s the response to false alarms?

Many cities try to recoup some false alarm costs by fining businesses for unnecessary calls. Los Angeles, for example, charges alarm owners a $216 fee for the first false alarm call and escalates the amount by $50 for each future event. Other cities stop responding to calls after a business reaches a certain number of false alarms.
The inconvenience and cost, along with slow – or no – response, points out the need for monitoring centers to eliminate false alarms and the technology to achieve this already exists.
Artificial intelligence software can reduce 90% or more false alarms by recognizing surveillance camera video containing humans or vehicles as genuine alarms. Monitoring operators eliminate the few remaining nuisance alarms and spend more time on potentially criminal situations. Two-way voice systems between the monitoring center and the monitored site enable operators to engage people, often preventing crimes before they occur.
The process, known as remote guarding, shows it’s possible to achieve zero false alarms. Law enforcement quickly responds to calls from remote guarding centers, knowing the calls are about true events. Highly trained center operators continue to monitor events, keeping officers apprised of the situation as they respond. The result is better security with less wasted time and expense.