Associations partner on alarm data exchange

Thursday, July 28, 2005

VIENNA, Va.—The Central Station Alarm Association solidified a partnership with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International that promises to improve emergency dispatches.

The APCO Standard for Alarm Data Exchange creates a protocol that will enable central stations to send confirmed alarm information directly to public service answering points.

“The intent of the partnership is to develop an interface for alarm companies to communicate directly with 911 centers electronically,” said Pam Petrow, executive vice president at Vector Security.

Working with APCO, a not-for-profit organization focused on the enhancement of public safety communications, the CSAA will help coordinate research and development of the standard.

“This is the Holy Grail that everyone said would be great to have,” said Steve Doyle, executive vice president at CSAA. Doyle expects the standard to reduce the amount of time it takes for emergency operators to receive alarm information and the possibility of the wrong information being shared.

Doyle estimates it now takes anywhere from three to five minutes for an operator to read the alarm information from his computer to a dispatch operator. With this standard, it will take seconds to transmit all the information that the central station has on file.

The CSAA organized three test groups that will integrate and beta test the system. The first group started work this past spring and is comprised of Monitoring Automation Systems, Vector Security and the emergency dispatch centers in Richmond, Va., and York County in Virginia.

“This will take a long time to be implemented,” said Ed Bonifas, vice president at Alarm Detection Systems. “But if everybody has it today, it would make everyone’s lives easier, it would make dispatches immediate.”