Security Experts Reveal How They Fight False Alarms

SSI Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine asked leading central stations COPS, Rapid Response, MONI and UCC what they are doing to reduce false alarms.

Security Experts Reveal How They Fight False Alarms

You know how most great businesses, sports teams and other powerful organizations lose their mojo? They get a bit full of themselves, get too comfortable, arrogant or cocky, and complacency sets in.

They take their eye off the proverbial ball. I am sure some examples popped into your head — maybe even your own company.

There’s a critical area I believe the majority of the security industry has eased off the gas pedal and finds itself in serious danger of falling asleep at the wheel: false alarm management and building responder relationships.

As a co-founder of the Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award program with SIAC and FARA, it’s an area I feel strongly about. I know the magnitude of damage losing sight of this cause can do to under-mine the credibility, effectiveness and profitability of the entire industry.

Those of us who attended the SIAC meeting at the recent ESX show commiserated about how — due to fewer recent jurisdictional flare-ups thanks to successful actions of the past — most are making the gross error of taking the calmer situation for granted.

Sure, false alarms are not as sexy and fun to deal with as some of the hot new automation technologies and services, but we must not lose sight that it all hinges on the platform of security.

It is our industry’s differentiator in an ever-more crowded and competitive landscape, and so we must do all we can to protect and preserve that bedrock foundation.

This month being the Monitoring Issue, I thought it an opportune time to ask some of the leading wholesale central stations what they are doing to continue the false alarms fight …

David Smith, COPS Monitoring: “We have a number of false alarm programs such as a learning period on new installs with no dispatch, ECV, electronic cancel, duplicate signal suppression, cross-zone/multiple zone verification, and a number of tools, reports, and flags designed to identify accounts with repeat alarms.

We also closely monitor our dealers’ alarms per account and will assign experts to carefully analyze their entire account base and make recommendations to our dealer — before the accounts become a real problem.”

Morgan Hertel, Rapid Response Monitoring: “ECV is our default action plan and we are consistently working on ways to provide customers with options to cancel a false alarm before a dispatch occurs.

We utilize technology any way possible. Implementing push notifications and bidirectional SMS messaging has been successful in reducing the overall number of false alarms.

We are active in PPVAR, IQ and FARA, and we have a team dedicated to reviewing signal activity and working with dealers to reduce high activity on accounts.

As we continue to see reductions in calls for service compared to the overall account growth, we still see a high percentage of false alarms for those that do get dispatched.

It’s our belief that over the next five years technology will surface that will reverse the numbers. When that happens we will be in the front of the line to help our existing dealers get up to speed.”

Grant Graham, MONI Smart Security: “Our alarm procedures follow ECV and we also accept electronic cancel signals as a form of verification, which reduces burglary alarms by approximately 30%.

When customers indicate that they are struggling with disarming the system due to key-pad issues, the customer is sent to customer tech support for assistance. In addition, we assist with police department permitting in certain jurisdictions.

In 2017, MONI introduced our proprietary ASAPer technology, which is built to allow customers the ability to cross-communicate on an alarm via web, SMS or email to verify false quickly with the center to abort a false dispatch.

We are also one of three charter members of the ASAP program, a computer-aided system that dramatically reduces alarm dispatch time.”

Tracey Ritchie, UCC: “We deploy ECV, which significantly reduces dispatches caused by false alarms. Additionally, the dealers’ alarm activity is monitored by the dealer support department who works closely with alarm dealers to identify and resolve potential issues.

Another UCC effort includes being a part of TMA’s [The Monitoring Association] ASAP-to-PSAP electronic dispatch program. This program reduces the time it takes to dispatch authorities in an emergency and eliminates human error in data transmission of the address and other pertinent information.

UCC also works closely with FARA, sending at least one representative annually to their symposium to help promote a good relationship between responding authorities and the alarm industry.”

Now mind your alarms and don’t forget to support SIAC!

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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.

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3 Responses to “Security Experts Reveal How They Fight False Alarms”

  1. Dawn Lara says:

    Wow. You didn’t even interview the leaders in false alarm reduction; the ones that actually verify an alarm.

    • Steve Karantzoulidis says:

      Hi Dawn,

      This article is from the August issue which is specifically focused on wholesale monitoring providers, not those who are leading the industry in that area regardless of business model. Usually when SSI does something comprehensive on false alarm reduction and alarm management it includes Sonitrol’s unique approach and apprehensions success.

  2. David Arsenault says:

    All four Central Stations mentioned seem to have similar procedures; ECV, electronic communication with end users, providing feedback to dealers. There also seems to be a heavy reliance on technology in trying to prevent false alarms which to me is more of a “due diligence” effort rather than actual prevention. Overall, the article reads like (these) central stations are making positive efforts to reduce false alarms, so in areas that still report high false alarm rates (like Sandy Springs, GA) does the issue rest between the dealer and end user? How do central stations ensure feedback to their dealers is being used and are there repercussions when false alarm rates with worst-offender dealers don’t taper off?

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