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PPVAR, SIAC talk verified alarm standards

Guidelines needed to govern how central stations and PSAPs interact during a dispatch
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06/11/2014

LAS VEGAS—It’s little wonder that the topic of verified alarms tends to spark dialogue between those in law enforcement and the alarm space. Intended to reduce false dispatches while increasing apprehensions, verified alarms—and the policies that guide them—are of critical importance to both groups, and continue to shape the relationship between them.

SIAC urges compliance with best practices to avoid false panic alarms

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06/03/2014

FRISCO, Texas—The Security Industry Alarm Coalition, a North American industry organization focused on alarm management, is urging the use of best practices to reduce false panic alarms triggered by key fobs, according to a news release.

Ohio city enacts alarm verification

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Plagued by an astronomical 98 percent false alarm rate for security systems, Akron, Ohio is following the lead of several other major American cities and introducing verified alarm response, according to a report from the Associated Press, and a news release from Sonitrol, an audio verification company.

The policy, adopted in larger cities such as Detroit, Las Vegas and Milwaukee, is simple: If an alarm goes off, a possible crime must be confirmed prior to law enforcement dispatch.

There are several causes of false alarms—outdated systems and installation flaws are among the most common culprits. But whatever the cause, the torrent of towns and cities taking measures to address them suggests that municipalities and police departments have had enough. In addition to being a budgetary drag, false alarms can potentially have dire consequences if they delay police response to more critical calls.

To some, enacting policies designed to confirm crime prior to police dispatch sets the stage for greater cooperation between the industry and law enforcement. But according to the AP report, not everyone is sold on these measures being the best means of ensuring maximum public safety. David Margulies, spokesman for the SIAC, was quoted in the report saying such policies are "basically putting the public in danger." To be sure, there is a fundamental tension between the need for municipalities to save resources by reducing false dispatch and certain ideas about the best policies for responding to alarms. In the coming days, I hope to gather some opinions on both sides of this debate.

I’ll be interested to hear how municipal measures to curb false dispatches through verification policies modify the demands of central station personnel on the ground level. As such policies become more widespread, how will the industry change? Does the future of monitored alarms involve video or audio verification becoming de rigueur?

New role for Jay Hauhn

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jay Hauhn, chief technology officer and VP of industry relations at Tyco Integrated Security, has been named president of CSAA. The announcement was made at the organization’s recent annual meeting in Quebec City. Hauhn, who most recently served as vice president for the organization, assumes the role held by Robert Bean, whose term expires this year.

Hauhn is actively involved in several industry organizations. Since 2011, he has served as chairman of the board at The Security Industry Association, a role in which he has executive responsibility for all interaction with industry associations, regulatory agencies and state and federal governments. His current term as Chairman of the Board at SIA ends this year.

Hauhn also sits on the board of directors at the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, and he is chairman of the Electronic Security Association’s government relations committee.  

I’m scheduled to speak with Hauhn later this week about his expanded role at CSAA. In that interview, I’ll discuss some of Hauhn’s short- and long-term ambitions as the newly minted leader of the organization.

A chat with SIAC’s Stan Martin

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Friday, September 6, 2013

This morning I had the opportunity to chat with Stan Martin, executive director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition. He proved to be a valuable font of information about the current state of the alarm industry, in particular the three-pronged relationship involving alarm monitoring companies, law enforcement and municipal governments—all of which play huge collaborative roles in responding to legitimate alarms and mitigating false ones.

When I asked him what he considers an ideal alarm ordinance, it became abundantly clear just what kind of challenges an effective alarm ordinance has to address. A whole constellation of considerations go into curbing false alarms. 

“We’ve studied alarm management issues for twenty plus years, and we know what best practices will reduce these unnecessary dispatches,” Martin said. “We list them in our model ordinance.”

A model ordinance, Martin said, should require all alarm systems to be registered with local police. It should mandate the use of Enhanced Call Verification, or two-call verification, a protocol that requires alarm monitoring stations to attempt to confirm a signal is valid before requesting dispatch. It should require that panels feature the newest equipment standards, meaning they are compliant with the ANSI/SIA CP-01 Control Panel Standard – Features for false alarms—a standard that minimizes the single biggest cause of false alarms: human error.

Martin also emphasized the tremendous importance of strict enforcement of an alarm ordinance, but acknowledged that enforcement measures vary by municipality, and are often dictated by local politics—particularly with respect to the number of free responses permitted. The SIAC recommends no more than one or two free responses. It also recommends suspending response once a fixed number, generally between the range of six and 10, has been surpassed. 

Martin says this curtails chronic abuse and holds some of the larger commercial entities accountable. “You do need to stop responses,” he said. “Otherwise, the higher-end clients, commercial clients, banks in particular, will just write the check. They consider that easier. It’s the cost of doing business. But when police say they’re not going to come any longer, they have to take some kind of corrective action.”

Simon says it's time to cooperate with your local PD

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Giving your customer list to law enforcement makes sense.

That statement seems to fly in the face of convention for the alarm industry, which hasn’t exactly been cozy over the years with the boys in blue. But Dave Simon, writing recently for the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, makes a compelling case for doing so.

Simon argues that there are far more benefits to cooperating with law enforcement than erecting barriers. Despite concerns in the past that sensitive information about customers could be compromised, that hasn’t happened, he said. And he draws another conclusion (agree with it or not) in this age of surveillance: Police departments will eventually get the lists anyway, so why not partner with them as good citizens?

The bottom line, Simon wrote, is that SIAC believes the cooperative approach bears more fruit. Here’s more of what he had to say:

Besides being nice, alarm dealers are actually helping customers in those cities where they provide the lists. Why? Because the list helps the PD do their job, ensure compliance and get systems registered. All that means a better-run alarm management program, improved enforcement and increased public safety. That’s good for the alarm dealer because customers have fewer false dispatches, saving them expensive fines and the risk of losing police response.

SIAC promotes cooperative problem-solving. This is a great example of how we can be supportive and help local jurisdictions—particularly the police department—conserve resources. We’ve found that even the largest national companies give lists. Cooperating with law enforcement is not a novel idea. Supplying customer lists should be an extension of our continued cooperation to ensure well-executed alarm management programs.

Simon invites opinions on the subject, pro or con, at siacinc.wordpress.com.

SIAC hands out Moody Award

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06/12/2013

FRISCO, Texas—Sharon Elder, vice president of sales for the National Monitoring Center in Aliso Viejo, Calif., is the recipient of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition’s 2013 William N.

Flint stops billing security companies for false alarms

Industry groups seek long-term resolution; city puts talks on hold
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05/15/2013

FLINT, Mich.—The city of Flint has stopped billing security companies for false alarms, but the future of the policy remains uncertain as industry representatives await the next move by city officials.

Enhanced call verification now law in Georgia

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

“It’s a good day in Georgia.”

That was the reaction from John Loud, president of the Georgia Electronic Life Safety & Systems Association, after Gov. Nathan Deal signed enhanced call verification into law on May 6. GELSSA, with an assist from the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, had been pushing for ECV for years and finally saw it brought to fruition with House Bill 59.

It wasn’t an easy process. As HB 687, the initiative made it through the Georgia House last year and through state Senate committees, but the legislative session ended before the bill could be brought to a vote on the Senate floor, Loud said. Then, HB 59 had to overcome resistance from those questioning the need for ECV.

“Some of the legislators were asking us, ‘Well, if it’s so great, why don’t you guys do it on your own? Why do you have to make it a law?” Loud said.

The explanation comes down to competition, with some alarm companies in pockets of Georgia using ECV—or lack thereof—to their advantage while ignoring the problem of false dispatches.

“They tell customers, ‘We only have to make one call [for police dispatch],’ so people would go against alarm companies that are doing ECV—‘You don’t want to monitor with them, they have to make two calls,’” Loud said. “And now this kind of equalizes it across the board. It’s right for the industry, it’s right for municipalities and it’s certainly right from the taxpayers’ standpoint.”

Law enforcement worked closely with GELSSA on the initiative, with the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police endorsing ECV. Loud said there were a few initial concerns from the state Fire Marshal’s Office, “but once they understood that this is not about fire, they came on board and supported us right away.” ECV will not be required in the case of a fire alarm, panic alarm or robbery-in-progress alarm, according to the statute.

Loud said success also hinged on “getting the right folks to adopt and carry the bill forward for us.” The legislation was sponsored by state Republican Reps. Tom Taylor, Kevin Cooke and Lynne Riley.

SIAC Director Ron Walters said Georgia is the fifth state to legislate ECV, joining Delaware, Virginia, Tennessee and Florida. The law goes into effect on July 1.
 

Education answer to alarming problem of user error

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02/27/2013

MESA, Ariz.—“Alarm schools” run by law enforcement agencies—where repeat false-alarm offenders go to learn about their systems to avoid more false dispatches—have been found to work very well.

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