For most endeavors worth pursuing, when all the components come together harmoniously it can be a beautiful thing to behold. Alarm management is a powerful case in point. Combining the proper equipment, system design, installation techniques, user training, customer care, monitoring procedures and law enforcement communications reduces nuisance alarms and false dispatches while also increasing the protection of people and property. Now that truly is a beautiful thing.
No one is blending all those moving pieces together more seamlessly and effectively than Warrendale, Pa.-headquartered Vector Security, which serves more than 270,000 customers throughout the East, in California and national retailers. The company’s all-encompassing alarm management program has propelled it to become the first two-time recipient of the 8th annual Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award.
“I was impressed with Vector Security and the professional documents they have implemented to communicate with law enforcement and customers to establish strong relationships,” says Gerry Miller, past president of the False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA) and a PDQ program judge. “Salespersons explain permits, fees and fines for false alarms in their jurisdiction. The use of checklists that require the customer’s signature, tracking false alarms and follow-up after each false alarm, and in-house and external training for installers were additional highlights.”
Founded in 2005 by the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), FARA and SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION, and now also officially endorsed by the Installation Quality (IQ) initiative, the PDQ program raises industry-wide awareness, motivates alarm companies to be proactive and provides workable models. The PDQ Award annually recognizes the security company that best demonstrates an enthusiastic, cooperative and successful effort in false alarm reduction strategies. The winner also receives a check from Honeywell.
Applications for the free program are evaluated by three judges in a rigorous and thorough process that addresses 14 areas of consideration (see box,). This year, Vector Security scored exceptionally high and consistent marks to narrowly edge out finalists Alarm Detection Systems, Amherst Alarm and Engineered Protection Systems (see sidebars).
“The voting for this year’s PDQ Award was perhaps the closest yet, and in fact several applicants could easily have won,” says SIAC Director Ron Walters, a PDQ judge who was on hand during the award presentation at the Electronic Security Expo (ESX) in Nashville, Tenn. “The main aspects that separated Vector Security was their universal application of ECV [Enhanced Call Verification] and CP-01 panels to all customers. This high level of commitment to these two important industry standards gave Vector Security enough separation to be named the winner.”
In its compelling 60-page submission, Vector Security listed a 2012 police dispatch rate of .13 within the Loudoun County, Va., area served by the company’s Columbia, Md., branch. That rate was verified in a lengthy and personal letter of support from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office False Alarm Reduction Unit’s alarm administrator.
“If the PDQ Award is to be awarded to the company ‘that promotes cooperative best practices, reduces unnecessary dispatches and give the most complete information to responding officers,’ then Vector Security should receive that award,” wrote Shellie S. Reid. The letter points out that while the region is served by more than 350 alarm companies, Vector Security is in a class of its own and details several ways in which the firm goes out of its way to serve its customers and assist law enforcement.
“We strive to lead the industry in everything we do, from customer service to technology to alarm monitoring,” says Vector Security President and CEO Pam Petrow. “We consider false alarm prevention a high priority because it helps preserve financial and human resources, and ensures that first responders are available for true emergencies.”
Vector Security, with Petrow and her predecessor, John Murphy, both being SSI Industry Hall of Fame inductees, has been guided by uncommonly astute business leaders who also champion industry causes. In addition to capturing the PDQ honor, Vector Security notched the rare distinctions of also being named runner-up for both 2013’s Installer of the Year and Integrated Installation of the Year awards. Those add to an ever-growing legacy of accolades. It’s time to take a peek under the hood to more closely examine the precise and powerful engine that drives Vector Security.
Related Blog: Petrow Ponders Police Dispatch Challenges
Who are the primary people responsible for developing, implementing, fine tuning and maintaining the program? How was the mission accomplished organizationally?
Pam Petrow: The program was developed with input from all segments of the business — sales, operations and central station. Each controls a piece of the solution and all are needed to be included in order to assure they had ownership of the program. On a daily basis, the false alarm coordinators in each of the branches oversee activity and work with internal departments, the customer and the responding agencies to address issues. We have an individual at a corporate level that compiles the data and creates reports to show progress or shortfalls on a comparative basis by quarter. With the initial launch, we provided training at the branch level as well as a comprehensive program for implementation.
What modifications to the plan had to be made along the way and why? What are some of the areas you would still like to see improvement in and what are you doing to achieve it?
Petrow: We continue to adjust our response protocols as needed. In addition, we have developed collateral to be E-mailed, and also refined end-user material to be easier to use and to encourage interaction. We continue to seek ways to reduce commercial dispatches that are caused by user error. With turnover in personnel and cleaning services, this is a constant challenge. Having panels that are more user-friendly and integrating interactive services has helped but needs to be expanded.
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