In the United States, police respond to at least 36 million alarm activations each year, at an estimated annual cost of $1.8 billion.
Depending upon the zone triggered, number and sequence of zones, time of day, and other factors, the alarm monitoring center may automatically initiate various actions. Central station operators might be instructed to call emergency services immediately, or to first call the protected premises or property manager to try to determine if the alarm is genuine. Operators could also start calling a list of phone numbers provided by the customer to contact someone to go check on the protected premises. Some zones may trigger a call to the local heating oil company to go check on the system, or a call to the owner with details of which room may be getting flooded. Some alarm systems are tied to videosurveillance systems so that current video of the intrusion area can be instantly displayed on a remote monitor, not to mention recorded.
Some alarm systems use real-time audio and video monitoring technology to verify the legitimacy of an alarm. In some municipalities around the United States, this type of alarm verification allows the property it is protecting to be placed on a "verified response" list, allowing for quicker and safer police responses.
The first video home security system was patented[ on December 2, 1969 to inventor Marie Brown. The system used television surveillance.