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Melissa Courville

Mobile’s the word at annual DICE conference

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08/29/2012

BAY CITY, Mich.—Participants set the agenda at DICE Corp.’s annual Users Group Conference, so the topics can shift to reflect what is actually happening in the field. And a lot of the buzz at this year’s event focused on what everyone in the industry has been talking about lately: adapting to keep up with the Web.

DICE rolls out backup in Colorado fire

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

They are powerful numbers: More than 18,000 acres burned, 32,000 residents forced to evacuate, and nearly 350 homes destroyed. The Waldo Canyon fire outside Colorado Springs is now under control, but not before leaving its mark as one of the most destructive in the state’s history.

It’s a long way from the sagebrush to Bay City, Mich., but that’s where DICE Corp.’s Disaster Recovery Center geared up to help any clients threatened by the Waldo wildfire and others in the region. DICE software is used to monitor thousands of homes and businesses in the Colorado Springs area.

“Having accounts in an area that could, at any time, be in jeopardy on a large scale … will cause intense management issues at the monitoring centers located in non-affected areas,” the company said in an email statement. “Part of the preparation we did on behalf of the recent Colorado evacuations was to make our Disaster Recovery Center available to receive signals from any of our clients if the [fire] was affecting their normal day-to-day businesses. In doing so, it provided an advanced storm mode, if you will, in which case the extra signal activity is removed from the center’s inbound circuits, which is really an expansion of capacity and services to the center.”

Melissa Courville, head of marketing and communications for DICE, said there were clients in the Colorado Springs area that did turn to the company’s DR center for assistance, but she was not at liberty to disclose who they were or to what extent they were affected.

Courville said the situation served as a reminder of when the company provided backup for a central station that was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina until it was able to rebuild.

“I’m humbled to say it was my first opportunity to step up as an emergency operator to dispatch,” she said. “To us it is only natural to offer our assistance, as we have done always and continue to do so.”
 

ASAP to PSAP: Full speed ahead

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

For central stations wondering if they’ll ever be part of ASAP to PSAP, there was good news from ESX 2012: Progress continues to be made.

Show attendees got an update on the protocol at a seminar led by Mark McCall of United Central Control, Glenn Schroeder of the Security Network of America, Pam Petrow and Anita Ostrowski of Vector Security, and Melissa Courville of DICE Corp.

While ASAP might not be advancing fast enough to satisfy everyone in the industry, the panelists in Nashville listed a number of bullet points that detailed the gains. Among them:

—A CSAA-owned message broker is up and running at the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (Nlets) facility in Arizona. The server acts as a scrubber for transmissions being forwarded from monitoring companies to public safety answering points.

—A trademark process has been completed to certify the ASAP name and logo.

—ANSI version 3.3 of the protocol is currently live in Richmond, Va., and it is scheduled to go online in other pilot project locations by the end of the year.

—ASAP leaders have expanded their outreach to the PSAP community in 2012, with presentations to groups including the Texas Police Chiefs Association and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

The three municipalities involved in the pilot project—Richmond, Va., York County, Va., and Houston—are scheduled to be joined soon by Tempe, Ariz., and James City County, Va. On the monitoring side, Alarm Detection Systems and ADT are in line to join pilot participants Vector Security, UCC and Monitronics.

McCall, director of information technology and facility security officer at UCC, told the seminar audience that central stations planning to become part of ASAP may find that the requirements “are a little bit more than what your operation is used to now.”

“Remember what we’re connecting to,” he said, referring to Nlets. “We’re connecting to the same network that every police department, every fire department and every emergency agency is connected to. Nlets is responsible for the integrity of that network, and for us as an industry to play in their sandbox, we have to meet their security requirements.”

On the plus side, most of those concerns were alleviated with the deployment of the message broker, McCall said. Other ASAP issues involving the preparation of automation vendors and CAD providers are being addressed, and the CSAA is creating a new website—www.asaptopsap.org—to keep interested parties informed.

“The materials are continually being added to and the CSAA will let everyone know when [the information] is ready for public consumption, as it will be sending out ASAP-dedicated email blasts to confirmed charter members at that time,” said Courville, co-chairwoman of the ASAP to PSAP Outreach Committee.

In the interim, she said inquires about the protocol should be addressed to Becky Lane (membership@csaaintl.org) or Monique Talbot (communications@csaaintl.org) at the CSAA.

Can Tweets hurt your central?

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Social networking is a double-edged sword. It can be a boon to communication, but an ill-advised post can rebound to haunt you—and maybe your central—even if it’s quickly deleted.

So how do you manage the use of these sites and actually get them to help your business?

A CSAA webinar, “Social Media in the Central Station,” will take on the topic from 1 to 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 18. The session will be presented by Annie Roderick, monitoring center manager for Wayne Alarm Systems of Lynn, Mass., and Melissa Courville, a marketing executive with DICE Corp. and chairwoman of the CSAA Social Media Committee.

“Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter … give way to fast blurb results that can be easily found over the Internet at any time, sometimes linking to your business,” Courville said. “Not only are these social media outlets quick and easy to use, but they offer both helpful and hurtful connotations to business reputations.”

The webinar, adapted from material shared at the 2011 CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar, will teach attendees how to harness the power of networking sites and how to address central station staff about their use. Case studies will be shared to illustrate the do’s and don’ts.

Space for the session is limited. To reserve a seat, go to the CSAA registration site.

DICE transforms with NOC, complete disaster recovery center

‘It’s not really about automation platform software anymore’
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02/10/2011

BAY CITY, Mich.—DICE is upgrading its NOC and disaster recovery center, based here, putting in more network infrastructure to accommodate the influx of technology-back-up clients the company sees coming. The updated capabilities include “next generation technology” that evolves the central station automation platform provider beyond its roots, according to company founder and president Cliff Dice.

DICE delivers free DICEWise Wiki to save clients time, money

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08/19/2010

BAY CITY, Mich.—DICE has begun using the knowledge management solution SamePage from Fremont, Calif.-based eTouch to tighten up operations, cut down on wasted paper and postage and deliver up-to-date efficiency to its central station clients through the implementation of the DICEWise Wiki. The best part about all this saved time and money, according to DICE president and CEO Cliff Dice, is that it’s free for DICE clients. “Someone at the DICEWise Wiki seminar at the Dice Users Group asked me, ‘How much does all this cost?’ I just said, ‘It’s free. It’s how we develop and deliver our documentation,’” Dice said.