Pittsburgh looks to automating false alarm fines

Stan Martin: SIAC advocates for this option
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

PITTSBURGH—Pittsburgh is looking at automating collections for false alarm fines, according to a recent NPR report.

Stan Martin, SIAC executive director, told Security Systems News that automating collections, or outsourcing the task to a separate company, is not a new idea. “SIAC’s taken the position for many years that one of the best solutions for some of these municipalities is to outsource the collection of the fees and fines.”

“We … recommend it because we know it’s the most efficient way to get it done,” Martin said. “They’re going to be amazed at how much better it’s going to work. … It’s a lot of work for someone internally.”

Automating or outsourcing fine collections helps lower false alarms. “If people don’t ever receive the fine for excessive false alarms … [they’re] probably not going to take corrective actions,” Martin said.

“To look at it another way; if [a false alarm offender] never received a bill for a false alarm because of poor administration within the department—it’s no consequence, so, where’s they’re motivation?” Martin said.

Not everyone heeds this advice. “What’s really interesting is the number of cities that don’t listen to us initially—on this issue of outsourcing. Somebody says ‘Well, we can do it ourselves.’ Then they end up with collection rates of 60 percent,” Martin said. That low rate can lead municipalities to thinking that false alarm fines aren’t worth the problem, he said.

Pittsburgh’s municipality is reportedly considering PMAM, a Texas-based information technology company, but Martin said, “There are several really good companies out there that do this work. So, the cities [that might consider outsourcing or automation] have choices.”

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