CSAA launches web-based course, targets new users

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Friday, April 1, 2005

VIENNA, Va. - The Central Station Alarm Association launched an online false alarm prevention course in March that is now being considered as a mandatory training tool for consumers by an undisclosed city in the metropolitan Chicago area.

“The reason it was put together was to reduce false alarms by end users,” said Ed Bonifas, chairman of marketing and communications at CSAA and vice president at Aurora, Ill.-based Alarm Detection Systems.

Bonifas declined to state what city is considering the option of making the course a legal requirement. However, the association intends to seek similar partnerships with police agencies throughout the country, looking to make the course either a rule or an ordinance.

After almost a year of development, the course is designed to decrease and prevent unwarranted police dispatches and repeated, incorrect alarm operation. The program costs $39.95 and is divided into two parts. The first covers different types of alarm systems and the second discusses issues related to false alarms.

The CMoor Group, a Louisville, Ky.-based developer of web-based, interactive training programs, designed the course for the association.

“This is just one of the real challenges of the industry and this is our contribution,” said Richard L. Sampson, president of CSAA and chairman of American Alarm & Communications of Arlington, Mass.

“Their false alarm program goes up to $1,000 a run,” Bonifas said in regards to the city considering the course and the fee structure it enforces. “And getting it right is in everyone’s best interest.”

What makes the course unique is not only how the association is marketing it, but also the range of users that are being targeted. These include end users, alarm companies and their employees, as well as police department personnel.

“Now a banker, who may be paying thousands of dollars in false alarms, can have staff take a course online and motivate people within the bank to reduce false alarms,” according to Sampson.

With training and an understanding of why systems most often fail, Bonifas believes police officers have the ability to reduce future dispatches by discussing possible alarm failure when it happens.

False alarms have been a major talking point for the industry since at least the 1980s, Bonifas said.

“There is still a very serious false alarm issue,” he said. “And we need to play our part.”

In the coming months, CSAA will continue to approach police departments throughout the country, making the case that the course should be adopted as a training tool. The association will also send brochures through the mail to police departments highlighting the benefits of the course.

“This is nothing more and nothing less than another tool to reduce false alarms,” he said.