The cover story of October’s SSI focuses on the year’s Police Dispatch Quality Award-winning company, Vector Security. I interviewed CEO Pam Petrow for the piece and have included some extra Q&A content below. I was on hand at ESX in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this year to present the award to Petrow, who was extremely proud of the accomplishment. Last year, I had the pleasure to be able to participate in inducting her into SSI’s Industry Hall of Fame. Below, Petrow addresses the larger false alarm issue as well as how technology advancement such as video verification can help.
Looking at the industry, what do you believe is going to happen with police response to burglar alarm systems? Is the situation getting better or worse? How will the landscape change and what will be the catalysts for this change?
Pam Petrow: As responding agencies are impacted by reduced funding, more agencies will go to fee-based alarm response. We are fortunate that technological changes have resulted in less false alarm-prone equipment, which has allowed the number of alarm systems to rise without the incremental impact on false dispatches. We can better utilize the current mobile technology and the affordability of cameras to better improve our decision-making process and further reduce unnecessary requests for response. As the ASAP [Automated Secure Alarm Protocol] program gets broader acceptance this will also help reduce the level of effort in the PSAPs [public safety answering points] for processing alarms, as well as improve the accuracy. The ability to quickly transmit updated status information between the PSAP and the central station will further reduce unnecessary responses.
What about video verification and monitoring as a tool to mitigate false alarms? Is this being practiced or investigated by Vector Security? What are the prospects and challenges in this realm?
Petrow: A large number of our residential customers are installing cameras with their alarm systems, which allow them to make well-informed decisions on what is happening at the house when we call for verification. This does reduce the number of false dispatches. We believe this trend will continue in the residential market. Commercially, the adoption rate for monitored video has not been as fast as we had hoped. The pricing on cameras and cloud-based technology offerings may start to make this adoption rate increase.
It has been quite a year for Vector with also being a runner-up for SSI‘s Installer of the Year and Integrated Installation of the Year. What is your secret to such success, and how do you plan to market your PDQ accolade?
Petrow: We are pleased and honored to be recognized for our false alarm reduction efforts. We plan to use this accolade to further emphasize our industry-leading monitoring services. We also have an outreach effort to first responders and plan to use this to build new relationships and strengthen the ones we already have. False alarm reduction is a team effort that involves not just the security companies, but public agencies as well.
Is there anything else relevant to your false alarm reduction program, the PDQ Award or false alarms in general that you would care to add?
Petrow: We are honored to receive this award for the second time and feel that as an industry we need to continue to recognize positive efforts to address false dispatches and the companies that excel. As an industry, we are always getting negative exposure about this issue but do not take the time to recognize and promote positive actions that are being taken in the industry with regard to this issue.