When You Need Active Monitoring vs. Surveillance Cameras

Apr 25, 2019

Preventing crime is a sticky situation. It’s a balance between choosing the right tools and maintaining the right budget with the lowest amount of risk. So when you’re deciding which route to take, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel paralyzed about where to turn.

Surveillance cameras are essential equipment for security systems. But, cameras alone aren’t the only tool available to property managers and business owners. Remote monitoring services pair surveillance cameras with high-tech analytics tools and trained monitoring staff who can detect, intervene, and prevent crimes and other incidents from happening.

If you’re in the market for a new security system, consider whether your needs demand more than cameras alone. To help you make that decision, here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of active monitoring systems vs. standalone surveillance camera systems.

Download Now: Free Starter Guide to Comparing Top Security Options For Your Business

Ideal Properties for Active Monitoring


“If the alternative is to have an on-site security guard, you need a remote monitoring system.” — Alain Ramirez, Command Center Manager at AVS

Active monitoring systems use a property’s surveillance cameras to provide real-time, live footage of an entire property simultaneously. New systems use cameras equipped with special analytics tools which detect intruders as soon as they breach your property boundaries.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Once an intrusion is detected, active monitoring systems alert trained staff at a central command center.
  2. Staff monitor the live feed to determine whether an intrusion is an actual threat or a false alarm.
  3. If a threat is detected, staff use two-way communication devices to talk the criminal or trespasser down and alert them that they are being monitored.
  4. If the criminal does not step down, command center staff contact the authorities immediately, resulting in incredibly quick response times.

Remote monitoring services are ideal for properties that have specific areas or times when they are closed or off-limits. Typical examples of properties that fall into this category include:

  • Car dealerships
  • Business parks
  • Junkyards
  • Residential community centers
  • Gyms
  • Any sizeable business that’s closed overnight or on weekends

“With active monitoring, you have eyes around all of your property, all the time, and we’re alerted at every breach. The alternative is having a guard that might go around the property every hour,” says Alain Ramirez, Command Center Manager at AVS. “It’s one person vs. 16 cameras. You just can’t beat it.”

Ramirez notes one of the most popular uses for active monitoring is actually within apartment complexes that have pools or spas with set hours. Smart cameras equipped with analytics tools can detect when people enter the pool area after hours.

Once a person is detected, staff are alerted and able to directly communicate with the trespassers and deter them from their actions. “Lots of apartment managers have trouble with people partying, damaging property, or vandalizing the pool after hours. Active monitoring is a perfect solution for them,” says Ramirez.

Download Now: Free Starter Guide to Comparing Top Security Options For Your Business

Ideal Properties for Surveillance Cameras Only


Active monitoring services are powerful and effective, but that doesn’t mean they’re ideal for everyone. Properties that are open 24 hours a day, residential properties, and smaller businesses are often better suited for standalone surveillance camera systems.

HOAs — especially in the form of gated communities—are also great opportunities for active monitoring. Surveillance cameras can capture high-resolution footage of every car and person that enters or exits the community.

 Ramirez says, “It’s particularly useful for HOAs that get hit by a set of robberies. We can search through the footage and often find evidence of the vehicle and license plate, or identification of the perpetrators.” Cameras are also useful for determining the source of any damage caused to the gate mechanism.

Determining What’s Right for You

Ultimately, these choices are best explored with the help of someone who knows the ins and outs of security systems. “Whenever you’re dealing with security at any level, it should be done by a professional who understands how everything works together. There is no cookie-cutter solution in this industry,” says Ramirez.

As you start thinking about your options, consider these questions and discuss your answers with a security professional.

  • Is your property commercial or residential?
  • Are areas of your property off-limits during specific hours?
  • How much foot and vehicle traffic is around your property?
  • Do you currently employ an on-site security guard?
  • Do you currently utilize surveillance cameras?

Still not sure which security solution is best for your business? Learn more by downloading our free resource: Comparing Security Options For Your Business.