Atronic Has Tonic for False Alarm Ills

Finalist ADT’s Crusade Won’t FADE Away

First implemented in the 1980s, ADT’s False Alarm Dispatch Elimination (FADE) program is a multifaceted effort representing the alarm industry’s first long-range commitment to reduce the incidence of false alarms through customer and employee education, alarm verification, model ordinance development, industry standard equipment and legislative support.

“As the largest provider of electronic security services in most jurisdictions ADT recognizes that leadership carries many responsibilities. Helping develop and implement methods for reducing false alarms is an example of how ADT has fulfilled that role as industry leader,” says Bill Cooper, industry liaison for ADT. “The FADE program began many years go and has matured along with the industry’s best practices and emerging technologies. Through it ADT has committed the necessary resources to have a measurable impact on reducing false alarms.”

ADT has championed a number of practices and policies that have been proven to reduce false police dispatches. The company enacted the first national implementation of enhanced call verification (ECV), training of new customers and retraining of those who continue to trigger false alarms, and providing a variety of ways for customers to update their contact information. According to Cooper, a company need not be as large as ADT to adopt a similar approach.

“Alarm companies of all sizes can certainly implement practices that support false alarm reduction,” he says. “Many of them carry little or no cost. ECV, CP-01 compliant panels, customer education and participation in local industry associations are examples of practices that have proven effec
tive for alarm companies of all sizes.”

In its PDQ award submission, ADT offered three impressive false alarm dispatch rates. During 2008, the company’s overall rate of more than 5 million customers was .45; in Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky., .28; and Montgomery County, Md., .18. Presently, the company is focusing its FADE efforts on promoting ECV.

“A large part of the relaunch of the FADE program was the implementation of enhanced call verification across ADT’s existing customer base,” says Cooper. “Some customers were adamant about not participating and so we had to adjust our process to support both methods. Hopefully one day, ECV will be as common as premise verification has become.”

Finalist Custom Alarm Finds Being Proactive Pays Off

“We do not have any accounts that have a bad false alarm record,” wrote Rochester, Minn.-based Custom Alarm in its PDQ award program application. “When we have false alarms we have such proactive procedures in place that we do not have anyone who is a repeat offender. We are able to contact the customer and help them when they have false alarms and we truly work together to make sure no one is having problems with their false alarm numbers.”

They say it’s not bragging if you back it up, and although when it comes to the PDQ program Custom Alarm has frequently been the bridesmaid but never the bride, the company has implemented one of the nation’s finest alarm management models. Doing so has helped make the business, which handles its own alarm monitoring, popular among customers and law enforcement alike.

“We feel an obligation to do our best to work with both our customers and the local law enforcement to minimize false dispatches,” says Custom Alarm Director of Marketing Nikki Johnson. “Thanks to this combined effort false alarms and dispatches have significantly been reduced on all the customers we monitor. We also believe our customers appreciate the extra steps we have put in place, such as enhanced verification, so as not to dispatch the police unnecessarily.”

In addition to thoroughly explaining false alarm issues to new customers and thoroughly training them on their new systems, Custom Alarm deploys a multitude of vehicles to keep in close communication to assure satisfaction, make sure call lists are kept up to date and generally ensure things go smoothly. The company also closely tracks false alarms and nips them in the bud before they become full-blown problems.

“Each week our central station prints a false alarm report that shows all dispatches, the history of the call, cause of the alarm and the result of the dispatch,” says Johnson. “Each day the dispatchers run this report and print an account verification form for each of them. They then attach a follow-up tracking sheet that helps them track the next steps. The dispatchers then call the customer to see what happened, answer any questions and see if they need additional training, a service call or something else.”

Custom Alarm also accepts electronic cancellations of alarms, calling if it is a residence to make sure everything is OK, and its systems are set up to automatically test during week and report any irregularities for follow-up. All of these efforts have led to the company posting a false alarm dispatch rate of .33 in its serviced areas.

About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add sales to your bottom line.

A free subscription to the #1 resource for the residential and commercial security industry will prove to be invaluable. Subscribe today!

Get Our Newsletters