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Alarm verification: Why it matters even more under new AVS-01 standard

Alarm verification: Why it matters even more under new AVS-01 standard
The new standard puts more weight on alarms that are verified. Having an alarm verification mechanism, therefore, will help ensure faster response to events.
The U.S.-based Monitoring Association (TMA) has introduced a new alarm validation system to make police response to alarms more effectively. In essence, the new system makes alarm verification more important than ever. This article takes a closer look.
The new system is introduced at a time when false alarms have become quite rampant across the U.S. In Gastonia, North Carolina, for example, numbers from 2021 show 99 percent of alarm activations were false alarms. According to Sheriff's Department of Carson, California, 98 percent of all burglar alarm activations are false alarms. This has been quite taxing for law enforcement agencies, which are already faced with budget and manpower shortages.
It’s against this backdrop that TMA has introduced the AVS-01 Alarm Validation Scoring Standard, which provides a standardized method of creating an alarm scoring system that will assist law enforcement prioritize unauthorized human activities detected by alarm systems.
“It establishes standardized methods for calculating an alarm score, or classification level, that results in a repeatable metric that estimates the validity or potential threat level of a burglar alarm activation using historical and real-time data,” TMA says on its website. A 30-day public review period for AVS-01 has opened May 10 and will close June 9.

What AVS-01 entails

In essence, AVS-01 categories a “call for service” – a call-in for emergency response – into the following alarm levels:
Alarm Level 0 – No call for service;
Alarm Level 1 – call for service with limited to no additional information;
Alarm Level 2 – call for service with confirmed or “highly probable” human presence with unknown intent;
Alarm Level 3 – call for service with confirmed threat to property;
Alarm Level 4 – call for service with confirmed threat to life.

Alarm verification more critical

This makes alarm verification all the more important. A call for service with little verification will cause law enforcement to de-prioritize it, resulting in longer response time. Lives or property may be in danger if the call for service turns out to be a real threat. On the other hand, alarms that are verified will prompt law enforcement to act faster and get to the scene on time.

Video alarm verification

There are different types of alarm verification. Among them, video is an effective way of verifying whether an alarm is real or not. Upon getting an alarm, the user or monitoring center can view the associated video of what happened before and after the alarm. Indeed, alarms are more verifiable with video than with data from other sensors, provided that the camera is set up at the right angle and is properly illuminated. Meanwhile, privacy issues that may arise from video alarm verification should also be properly addressed to alleviate user concerns.

Other types of alarm verification

Besides video, other types of alarm verification are available. According to a whitepaper by Parks Associates, these include the following:
Calling/texting the resident: This is quite efficient to implement. Drawbacks include low answer rate and no contextual information if the resident is not at home.
Sensor-based AI verification: This type of verification can provide some situational context. It however may require deployment of multiple sensors/professional installation, lacks context around identity and does not capture visual context.
RF-based AI verification: This type of verification provides situational awareness around identity; software can be integrated into leading security panels; and it creates dynamic workflow for monitoring response. Drawbacks include low current deployment in legacy systems and a lack of visual context.


In the end, the new AVS-01 Alarm Validation Scoring Standard highlights the importance of alarm verification. There are various types of alarm verification, and which one to choose ultimately depends on the user’s own scenario and requirements. The main takeaway is that with law enforcement increasingly prioritizing alarms that are verified, having a verification mechanism to the alarm system has become more important than ever.

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