There is increased competition in the market, with many vendors touting their ability to monitor your cameras “live” with the promise of decreasing your criminal and nuisance issues. Sounds great right? It really does until you start to think about it. I hate to burst your bubble, but live monitoring does NOT work in the Multi-Family Industry.

First, there is a time and place for “live monitoring,” but there is no time, nor place in the MF world for it. Live monitoring can only really work in certain scenarios with very defined parameters (location, setting, hours of operation, etc). For instance, a car dealership is a great place where live monitoring can make a difference. A car dealership has a very defined boundary and is only open certain days and hours. If one were to monitor the activity live, through the context of “car shopping” one could easily distinguish between “shopping” and “nefarious activities.”

So why won’t live monitoring work in the Multifamily industry?

• MISGUIDED ATTENTION – Have you ever tried watching two movies at the same time? Sure, you might be able to follow along with the major plotlines, but chances are while you are focused on a big explosion with one movie, that you’ll miss important details from the other. So while you are intently watching a potential “suspect” from one live feed, you just missed someone else kicking in a back door! This example is just with 2 “feeds,” can you imagine trying to watch all 30 of your camera feeds at the same time? Chances are you’d miss something, or zone out pretty quickly.

• ATTENTION SPAN – If you are anything like me, you check your phone rather often. Do you really think a security guard making $10-15 an hour is really going to dedicate each and every second of his shift watching your cameras? I doubt it and I’m betting he’d divert his eyes away to check FB or the score to the game very often. Multiple studies have shown that a person watching only 4 live feeds starts to lose their focus after only 20 minutes!

• COST – Going along with the point above, let’s consider what you might pay a company to watch your cameras per month, and then do some simple math dividing the total cost by the number of cameras and hours. i.e. Let’s assume you pay someone $2,000 to watch your cameras for 12 hours per day, 30 days a month. The math here says you are paying that person $5.56 per hour. Do you really think the company is paying someone an hourly wage AND making a profit off of $5.56 per hour to watch 30 cameras at the same time? Probably not…so what you’ll find is that the same person is watching your 30 cameras AND 5 or 6 similar sites at the same time in order for the company to make a profit. Now, can you imagine watching 180 camera feeds and trying to identify criminal and nuisance activities?

• CONTEXT – Does the person doing the live monitoring really know what they are looking for? Do they know the local laws and the rules of your community? I really doubt it! Furthermore, how do they know one thing from another? Is it kids horsing around, or is it a fight? Is he smoking a cigar or drugs? Is that person breaking into a car, or is their lock stuck? Even if you do know what you are looking for, it’s pretty easy to miss things. Watch this clip and then come back and tell me I’m right on this point!

Seriously, watch that clip before reading anymore…

How did you do? Don’t feel bad, as less than 15% of people ever noticed it!

• LIABILITY – This utterance of this word probably makes you and your insurance company shudder. Getting back to my previous CONTEXT examples about “is it a fight, or horseplay,” let’s assume the person watching your cameras falsely determined it to be a fight. Well, a reckless claim like this (reckless because he didn’t see the previous 15 minutes of the kids playing around) is going to lead to unnecessary calls toe the police, which ultimately may lead to slower reaction times due to numerous false alarms. Or, if a bias is proven, you may be opening yourself up to numerous legal issues from targeted races. Secondly, if live viewing is claimed or advertised to your residents (I know you are smarter than that, but a new leasing agent might let it slip out one day), your residents may be led to believe a false sense of security, which opens up numerous claims of liability for failure to protect.

While in theory watching the cameras live seems like a good idea, it really has no place in our industry. If you have this much extra money in your budget to blow, I would much rather steer you towards proven crime reduction techniques like improvements to your lighting and access controls.









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