SGS integrates with Unified 911 for more accurate emergency services dispatch

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

DALLAS—A new technology partnership aims to simplify and speed up 911 dispatch for central stations. Furthermore, the partnership aligns with current efforts on the part of the Central Station Alarm Association and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials.

Both the CSAA and APCO are working to streamline and automate central station/public safety answering point (PSAP) communications. A PSAP is a call center responsible for answering calls to an emergency telephone number for police, firefighting, and ambulance services. Trained telephone operators at the PSAP are usually responsible for answering calls from central stations and end users. PSAPs dispatch the appropriate emergency services.

The technology partnership involves central station automation platform provider SGS and U911, a provider of location data software. SGS will integrate U911’s “address validation solution” into its stages central station platform.

SGS VP Hank Goldberg said the integration aligns with ongoing efforts by the CSAA and others to automate and otherwise evolve central station to PSAP communications.

“SGS has been working on automated dispatch since its inception and we worked hard to learn about different providers of data to the 911 centers,” Goldberg told Security Systems News. “All alarm companies have incorrect data that cannot be transmitted to PSAPs for dispatch. We know from samples tested that over 50 percent—and usually over 75 percent—of data needs correction. We can automate this process.” Goldberg said he expected the service to be ready sometime in the third quarter of 2011.

U911 CTO Rick Peters said the partnership would be very beneficial to all involved.

“For [central stations] this partnership means it’s going to take a lot less effort to maintain customer databases. And those databases will be much more accurate when they dispatch the correct responding agency to a valid address… It’s saved time, saved money, and saved lives,” Peters said. “The interface we’ve developed with SGS works in real time, so even if the customer is 5-years-old or 10-years-old, the emergency contact information is current. Anyone who needs emergency dispatch will benefit from this.”

According to SGS, the integration is important because of the resulting creation of a quality database of addresses and PSAPs, which allows central stations to function without the worry of encountering outdated or incorrect PSAP contact information. The integration will also aid in the implementation of the CSAA/APCO Alarm Interface program currently underway, according to Goldberg.

The goal of the automated data exchange interface program is to migrate central station /PSAP communications from voice-to-voice to computer-aided-dispatch (CAD-to-CAD). This allows monitoring companies and PSAPs to communicate alarm events and status updates electronically. The goal is to minimize human involvement—and therefore the possibility for human error—in the transfer of data between central stations and PSAPs.

The program was initiated in the city of Richmond, Va. and has seen contributions by Vector Security and that company’s president Pam Petrow. United Central Control and Monitronics also recently began piloting the program.