DALLAS — As one of only three monitoring companies selected to participate in a new computer-aided dispatch program, Monitronics Int’l will now monitor calls for Richmond, Va., and the Houston Emergency Center (HEC). Monitronics joins Vector Security and United Central Control (UCC) in the program.
The Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) program is a computer-aided dispatch system designed by the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO Int’l). The protocol reduces the two- to three-minute relay currently in place by allowing a computer at the dispatch center to process data.
“The ASAP program replaces the telephone calls between the alarm company and the 911 public safety answering point [PSAP] call-takers. So, I’m going to get immediate communication from the PSAP and eliminate any hold times my operators may have when it comes to making a dispatch. The program not only reduces the phone calls, but it reduces any mistakes that one of my operators may make,” Monitronics Central Station Director Mary Jensby tells SSI.
When CSAA President Ed Bonifas said the association was looking for a third central station to join the ASAP pilot program at CSAA’s conference last fall, it sparked Jensby’s interest. When she returned to the company’s Dallas headquarters, she discussed the matter with Monitronics Vice President Rick Hudson, who was thrilled with the idea. Then, Monitronics began making the necessary changes to receive approval to join the program.
“CSAA and APCO had to approve us first,” Jensby says. “Then we had to go through Nlets [the International Justice & Public Safety Network] inspections.”
Nlets links the majority of the nation’s 6,500 PSAPs to international, federal and state criminal justice and public safety-related databases. With Monitronics using Nlets’ server for the program, the company had to undergo rigorous inspections to make sure equipment and security were up to par.
“The inspection included background checks,” Jensby says. We had to be compliant and really make sure that our security was in place. We don’t want anyone tapping into their server through our equipment.”
After Nlets cleared the company, 142 operators went through two trainings, including a 15-minute Security Awareness Web course. Monitronics training coach Anne Glickstein also designed a 30-minute Web-based training to show how the communication would work between the operators and the PSAPs. The company then participated in the ASAP pilot program from March to August 2 to work out any kinks.
For her part, Jensby now serves as ASAP chairperson for the CSAA. She will work closely with Bonifas and Vector Security President Pam Petrow to spread the word to different PSAPs about the program.
“With budget cuts happening throughout the United States in government agencies, ASAP will definitely make an impact,” Jensby says. “This is going to eliminate the need for phone calls that tie up dispatchers. It’s something that we’ve been trying to make happen for 20 to 25 years to make it better for everybody. This will help the relationship between monitoring companies and police agencies to evolve.”
And, Jensby knows quite a bit about building a strong relationship with law enforcement, as Monitronics has reduced its false alarms from 0.67 percent to 0.5 percent. That effort earned the company this year’s False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA) Industry False Alarm Reduction Achievement Award.
Twin City, Va., will be the next city to roll out the ASAP system. “They have their CAD system that’s ready,” Jensby says. “They’ll be able to do the dispatches here within the next three to four months.”