Case Study: Resorting to Monitoring

By Carlton Purvis

To reduce false alarms, Digitize devised a way of differentiating status changes that might have been caused by lightning from those that might have been caused by an actual security event that triggered the sensors. It did so by configuring the system to watch for status changes that were shorter than the time it would take someone to open and shut a door.

“NFPA guidelines say you need to respond to a change of status in .82 seconds for a multiplex system. In our design, we have it set to check the status twice in one second,” says Brecher. He explains that lightning doesn’t usually last that long, so if the interruption isn’t present on the second read, it’s not a real alarm.

While Digitize was able to use the phone lines up to a point, those lines still had their limits. To get around that and expand the system as needed, the new system used nearby cell phone towers to send alarms where phone lines were lacking. In this way, newer properties could be tied into the system without the resort incurring the cost of laying new phone lines or installing other infrastructure.

The software’s database maintains information pertinent to the day-to-day operation of the security team and reminds guards of scheduled events that might cause a log event, such as the cleaning crew entering the property at a certain time. It also notes when owners will be absent to help determine the urgency of alarm response.

The new setup is also used to monitor the resort’s grinder pumps (used for waste management). The alarms are set to go off well before a pump overflows.

“We can also monitor the heating and cooling systems. Anything that can be monitored can be adapted to this system,” says Aubuchon.

The system has already proven its worth. When two teens broke into a chalet in the winter of 2011 with the intention of stealing a TV, the sensors were triggered, and the monitoring center received an alarm signal. A security guard was immediately dispatched. He arrived as the two teens were exiting the building, and he was able to prevent them from getting to their vehicle.

“The next day, they came back claiming they had their car towed, but when they went to claim it, they were wearing the same shoes they’d left footprints with,” Aubuchon says, laughing at the recollection. He turned the information over to the local sheriff. The pair were arrested and prosecuted for the theft.

The resort may expand what it does with the system in the future. For example, it may take advantage of the option to send automatic notification of alarms by e-mail or text messages, based on the type of alarm, to security or maintenance personnel and even to owners. Another option would be to enable live viewing of the scene where an alarm sounds by tying the system into the security cameras, which is not currently done. That would help with alarm verification and responder information.

Aubuchon says the new system has reduced false alarms by 85 percent. False alarms related to hardware were eliminated completely.

(For more information: Digitize; e-mail:; Web:



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