HOUSTON — A new dispatch system may help public safety answering point (PSAP) Houston Emergency Center (HEC) save up to $2 million annually.
HEC will now employ the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP), a computer-aided dispatch system. The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO Int’l) developed ASAP.
To date, HEC is the fourth largest PSAP in the country and the first in Texas to use the ASAP program, says HEC Director David Cutler.
“This will serve as another tool in our efforts to provide the best possible public safety services available for Houston citizens,” he says. “Overall, this will result in more efficient call processing and greatly reduce costs for both the city of Houston and the alarm monitoring stations. It will help curb the workload of our call takers and allow them to process emergency calls more efficiently.”
HEC is currently testing out the program with two pilot alarm-monitoring stations. Cutler estimates a 10-percent decline in police alarm call events and $1 million to $2 million in annual costs.
“While a drop in telephone call volume by 8 to 13 percent is outstanding, a 10-percent reduction in the number of alarms requiring call-taker intervention is equally astonishing,” he says. “Especially when you consider that we receive an average of more than 2,000 police alarms per week.”
Will the new program help law enforcement agencies and alarm monitoring companies build stronger partnerships? CSAA President Ed Bonifas thinks so.
“The Houston implementation of ASAP is the new standard in fostering the public-private relationship between alarm monitoring companies and 911 PSAPs,” he says.
A series of pilot programs were also held in Richmond and York County, Va.