US 6975220 Internet based security, fire and emergency identification and communication system

ABSTRACT – The present invention provides a system for detecting an event within a premises and providing data such as live or recorded video and audio regarding that event to a web site. The event may be an unauthorized entry to the premises, a fire, or a maintenance malfunction within the premises. The web site may be accessed by a variety of authorized users including the owner or manager of the premises, a central monitor, local police, fire, or emergency medical personnel, or other entities specified by the owner or manager of the premises. The system permits authorized users to view the event in real time or as recorded on the web site after the event has occurred to determine the type of event and an appropriate course of action to rectify it.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Systems for detecting and reporting intrusions and other types of events including but not limited to fire and medical emergencies are well known in the prior art. A typical system for securing and protecting the occupants of a premises, such as a home or an office building for example, includes: 1) at least one keypad/display panel; 2) a central system controller; 3) entry point sensors located at various windows and doors to the premises; 4) sensors for detecting movement, vibration or sounds within the premises in the event that the entry point sensors have been evaded; 5) sensors for detecting fire and/or smoke or other functions within or outside a premises including temperature or low heating fuel; 6) an audible and/or visual alarm and 7) a telephone line connection.

The keypad/display panel is a device through which the security system is activated or deactivated by an authorized user of the premises. The keypad/display panel can incorporate a “panic switch(es)” to allow a user to immediately signal an emergency such as an intruder, fire or medical problem without the central controller being in the alarm state. Once the system has been activated using the keypad to enter an activation code, or through a key or some other form of proper activation, a signal is sent from the keypad/display panel to the central controller. The central controller continually monitors each of the entry point sensors connected through electrical wiring or other form of communication (i.e. radio frequency (“RF”)) to the central controller within the premises. In the event that a window or door is opened while the system is activated, the particular entry point sensor detects the entry and signals the central controller. Alternatively, if an intruder enters the premises without tripping one of the entry point sensors, one of the motion or other types of sensors may detect the intruder and alert the central controller that an intruder has been detected within the premises. A motion or sound sensor may be triggered without an entry point sensor detecting an open event.

Once the central controller receives a signal from an entry point sensor or other type of sensor it may sound an alarm. Alternatively, or in addition to the alarm, if the premises is being monitored by a remote monitoring entity, the central controller will dial a telephone number of the remote monitoring entity to provide notification of an intrusion or other form of emergency event and provide data regarding the event. The remote monitoring entity must then attempt to ascertain the exact nature of the event and whether the alarm is a “false alarm.” In situations where the remote monitoring entity cannot determine the exact nature of the alarm indication they may send a guard to the premises and/or notify local police, fire or emergency medical providers of the alarm indication who may be dispatched to the premises to investigate.

The primary problem with prior art security and emergency notification systems of the type described above relates to the inability of the remote monitoring entity to accurately verify an alarm indication. Therefore, there are frequently false alarms that may be caused by any number of events, including but not limited to: 1) a faulty sensor; 2) a pet moving within the premises; 3) an authorized entrant that has mistakenly tripped a sensor unknowingly; 4) an authorized entrant that has failed to deactivate the system; 5) smoke from a stove or fireplace; or 6) a child at a premises who has inadvertently requested emergency medical assistance by depressing the emergency sequence on the keypad/display. Any one of these false alarm indications will cause the alarm to be sounded and the remote monitoring entity to be immediately notified. Frequent false alarms cause neighbors to believe that alarm indications are “false”. More importantly, a high number of false alarms cause police, fire and emergency services providers to react slowly believing the subject alarm indication to be false.

Another problem with these types of prior art systems is that information transmitted to the remote monitoring entity only relates to how an alarm indication was activated (i.e. through the activation and control panel or through a sensor). Thus, if an actual emergency has occurred, the remote monitoring entity has no means of identifying what a perpetrator looks like, the location of a fire at the premises or the condition of person who has suffered a medical emergency. Furthermore, systems of these types do not provide real time information to emergency services providers which can be transmitted to multiple interested parties at diverse and remote locations. Nor, do these systems provide immediate notification of an alarm indication to a premises owner or manager who is not at the premises at the time of the alarm.

A second type of security system that is well known in the prior art is a Closed Circuit Television System (CCTV). CCTV Systems utilize video surveillance cameras that are placed at various points within or near a premises. CCTV Systems are “closed” systems and provide authorized parties with the capability to view events, which are or have taken place at a premises in three ways: 1) A monitoring station located at the premises can be equipped with video monitors and other equipment that enables an individual or group of individuals to view the input from the various cameras connected to the System in real time. Systems that permit on-premises monitoring may also be equipped with the capability to record events over some time period using tape or digital recording devices. Recording can be reviewed by interested parties at a later date; 2) CCTV Systems can be equipped with recording devices only, thus precluding real-time monitoring but providing the capability to view recorded events at a later date; 3) CCTV Systems can be installed at several remote locations with the input from the various cameras being transmitted to a single centrally located video monitoring site equipped with apparatus that permits viewing and/or recording of events from all of the remote locations.

CCTV systems suffer from numerous problems: 1) they are not practical for use at residences or small businesses since continual recording of living and work environments is generally considered to be intrusive; 2) CCTV Systems require constant monitoring of transmitted video images in order to be effective in the prevention of crime, or early detection of an emergency. Such a requirement necessitates expensive personnel who can provide monitoring services; 3) CCTV Systems do not possess the capability to automatically alert an off site premises owner or manager of an emergency condition at the premises; 4) CCTV Systems do not enable real time, secure viewing of video images by multiple interested parties, including emergency services providers who are located away from the premises but who have a temporary or recurring interest in the events transpiring at the premises; 5) CCTV Systems do not enable real time voice communication between multiple interested parties, including emergency services providers who are located away from the premises but who have a temporary or recurring interest in the events transpiring at the premises; 6) CCTV Systems provide information as an emergency event unfolds, but generally cannot provide early warning for such emergencies as fires or unauthorized intrusions unless constantly monitored.

A third type of security system that is well known in the prior art is an “interactive video surveillance” or “remote alarm verification and video surveillance system”. These systems utilize all of the components of a standard security and emergency notification system, but in addition incorporate the use of: 1) a video controller board; 2) the components of a CCTV System; and 3) a speaker phone tied to the central system controller.

Interactive Video Surveillance or Remote Alarm Verification and Video Surveillance Systems (IVSS) provide the capability for automatic, real-time transmission of voice, data and video images from a premises to a single interested party using conventional telephone lines. IVS provides the capability for: 1) a central station operator to visually verify the nature of an alarm event at a premises following an alarm event; 2) a central station operator to engage occupants of a premises in real-time voice communication following an alarm event; and 3) permit a single interested party to “dial into” a premises in order to carry out remote video surveillance when an alarm event has not been triggered.

IVSS suffer from numerous problems: 1) IVSS can transmit voice, data and video images to only one remote location at a time; 2) IVSS rely on low paid central station monitoring operators to control emergency conditions; 3) IVSS is not secure due to the capability for an interested party to “dial into” a system to view video images from a remote location; and 4) IVSS systems in their present form are limited to communications using conventional telephone lines.

Due to the drawbacks of the foregoing systems, an improved security system is needed. Such a system will provide system capabilities and functionality which: 1) provides automatic notification to multiple interested parties of an alarm event at a premises; 2) enables the transmission of voice, data and video images between multiple remote locations simultaneously; 3) provides security by precluding a party from “dialing into a premises” to view real-time video images; 4) provides the ability for system parameters to be reviewed and activated from remote locations; and 5) permits the use of wireless devices for; (i) sending and receiving information regarding an alarm event, (ii) reviewing system parameters and activating a system from remote locations, and (iii) communicating with other interested parties who are sending and receiving information following an alarm event.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention offers a solution to the problems of the prior art by offering a system and method that incorporates the elements of the prior art systems, while adding and enhancing functions, and providing new and unique methods for the premises owner (or manager), emergency services, the central monitoring station and other authorized users to communicate as a group to monitor the system. The subject invention overcomes the shortcomings of the prior art systems by providing a practical and cost effective means for combining video monitoring, two way voice, and data communications to a central monitoring station via a proprietary website.

The use of a website enables the authorized users to simultaneously view the video data transmitted from the site while maintaining group voice and data contact regardless of their current location. In particular, video cameras are strategically located within a protected premises to record activity at various entry points or in other central passageways throughout the premises. Additional video cameras can be added at other locations as desired for specific monitoring functions such as at or near storage locations for valuables. Sensors within the premises may detect a variety of events, including: 1) security breach, 2) fire, 3) smoke, 4) panic, or 5) maintenance. Once an event is detected while the system security and video controllers have been activated, the following events occur: 1) the video controller activates the camera and associated lamp monitoring the tripped sensor; 2) the security system controller begins the process of transmitting data to the central monitoring station; and 3) the transmission signal from the system controller to the central monitoring station is intercepted by the video controller that initiates communications to the website.

Communications to the website is by one of the following internet compliant communications means: standard phone line, broad band bi-directional cable connection, digital subscriber line (“DSL”), wireless phone service or any other internet compliant communication format. Once the website connection has been made, the security system transmits data to the website indicating the premises’ account number. The website database is accessed to determine the central monitoring station that services the identified account. The website then routes the video, data and voice channel outputs from the activated site to the central monitoring station. The web site simultaneously places a call to the premises owner or manager (referred to collectively as “owner”) to notify them of the system alarm condition.

Once the owner and the monitoring station are on line to the web site they may communicate by voice channel while simultaneously viewing video and sensor data from the site. If an emergency exists, emergency services providers such as police, fire, medical or maintenance services personnel are notified. They can connect to the website to access voice and data channel connections as well as being able to see the cause of the problem through the viewing or reviewing of the video signal being recorded at the premises. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a remote monitor that is notified and gains access to the website may be any one of a number of individuals or entities. For example, they may include: 1) the facility owner’s web compliant pager; 2) the facility owner’s web compliant cellular telephone; 3) a computer site designated by the facility owner; 4) a remote central monitoring site; 5) the local police department; 6) the local fire department; or 7) any other authorized entity designated by the facility owner. The alerted party is provided with an internet web page address to view the video data that is being posted to that website. For security purposes, each user may be required to enter an access code to gain entrance to the website. The alerted party can determine whether there is an actual emergency by examining the real time video and audio data or recorded data from the site thereby eliminating, or at least greatly reducing, false alarms and nuisance calls.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a security system and method that provides imaging of an event to confirm the identity of the intruder, or that the intruder is an authorized entrant.

It is another object of the present invention to provide real time video and audio, and recorded data of an event to be posted to an internet website for access by an authorized user for viewing, review and to determine an appropriate course of action to handle the event.

 

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