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COPS Monitoring Redundancy Leads to Marvel Award Runner-Up Distinction

“Even a short period of downtime in our industry can be catastrophic, which is why our goal is to provide ‘failsafe’ monitoring above ‘disaster recovery’,” says COPS President & COO Jim McMullen.

At its most basic level, the foundation of the entire alarm industry is making sure the signal gets through. Every second is precious when belongings, property and especially people’s well-being and even lives are at stake. The chain of signal transmission to the central monitoring center and then to first responders, if necessary, has to function without error 24/7/365.

There are many technologies, types of equipment, personnel and practices that are essential to that purpose — perhaps none more so than redundancy.

Backup facilities, systems and staff must be perpetually on the ready to take over primary signal transmission, reception and action at a moment’s notice. Alarm customers monitored by providers without that type of redundancy are often unwittingly participating in a high stakes gamble of potentially lives on the line.

COPS Monitoring takes that very seriously indeed, and has interconnected a half-dozen monitoring centers across the country to deal with any eventuality.

“Even a short period of downtime in our industry can be catastrophic, which is why our goal is to provide ‘failsafe’ monitoring above ‘disaster recovery’,” says COPS President and COO Jim McMullen. “The technical architecture of our six UL-Listed monitoring centers along with offsite servers in one of the world’s most advanced datacenters provides a higher level of redundancy than other professional monitoring companies. All six monitoring centers are networked, staffed 24/7 and actively share in handling the alarm traffic in real-time.”

That impressive footprint and impeccable marriage of technology and people elevated COPS Monitoring to being a finalist and runner-up in the first TMA/SSI Monitoring Technology Marvel Award, which was presented during June’s ESX tradeshow in Nashville, Tenn.

Presided over by Security Sales & Integration and The Monitoring Association, the Marvel salutes central stations for the best adoption of new technology to advance their business. In the case of COPS, it is not so much showcasing leading-edge technology as it is expanding upon that which has been proven to work and strengthen the security mission.

“Though we monitor PERS, video, GPS, smart home and more, we wouldn’t consider ourselves to be early adopters,” says McMullen. “Instead, because there are so many new players interested in professional monitoring, we tend to adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach so we can identify the best and most reliable technology and those that will provide the best benefits to our dealer base. We believe mPERS, GPS, video and AI will continue to create tangible opportunities for our dealers. We also believe that new technology will continue to reduce false alarms; either by themselves, or by enhancing current systems and technology.”

Founded in 1978, Williamstown, N.J.-headquartered COPS Monitoring and its other locations in Scottsdale, Ariz., Boca Raton, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., Lewisville, Texas and Hunt Valley, Md., deliver contracted monitored services to around 3,500 independent alarm dealers and their nearly 3 million primarily residential customers.

The UL-Listed, FM-Approved and IQ-certified COPS has more TMA Five Diamond-certified facilities than any other monitoring provider, and that level of expertise and redundancy benefits dealers in a number of ways.

“In our experience, the most common threats impacting a monitoring facility’s ability to maintain quality of service are ‘local conditions,’” adds McMullen. “Not only can things like hurricanes, nor’easters, floods, fires, etc. significantly increase alarm signal traffic, they also present logistical and safety concerns for employees. To ensure compensate during local conditions, COPS has diversified its staffing as well as its technology. With an average of 16.7% of staffing distributed across all six sites, if something happened to a monitoring station, roughly 80% of our staff at the other five locations would be ready to handle alarm traffic.”

COPS’ unique infrastructure, in which alarms are delivered to the first available dispatcher across all six sites, has allowed the firm to maintain some of the industry’s fastest response times (15.5 seconds on average with in excess of 4.3 million annual alarm signals). Faster response times may not only be lifesaving; they also contribute mightily to the quality of dealers’ overall customer experience.

According to COPS management, even though the business would be more profitable running fewer facilities they prefer to sacrifice some revenue than compromise the protection of those who the company is entrusted to serve. Now that really gets to the heart of the security mission.

“Unfortunately, the industry-at-large does not easily recognize the value of our level of redundancy. It takes a bit of effort to educate how our monitoring redundancy is both deliberate and exceeds the capabilities of other companies that may seem similar at first,” says McMullen. “It’s a simple fact that single- and two-site central stations cannot achieve the results that COPS can. We know this because we have operated that way. Even at five sites, we didn’t feel the redundancy was sufficient enough for what COPS expects to achieve in the marketplace. Each time we added a monitoring station to our network, our services became better and more reliable.”

About the Author

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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.

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