How ADT Zeroes In on Actual False Alarms

2018 PDQ runner-up ADT discusses the central components of the company’s alarm management tactics.

Industries tend to grow, prosper and engender public support on the strength of not only desirable goods and/or services but also the culture and perception of those fields’ leading companies.

Where it comes to the electronic industry it is to all interested parties’ great benefit that by far and away the largest provider of professionally installed systems and monitored services — ADT — has long devoted equally substantial resources and focus to big-picture industry challenges, legislation, standards and other causes.

Part of that has been ADT’s commitment to effective alarm management — through its half-dozen U.S.-based monitoring centers — as well as monetary and manpower donations to related trade associations and proactive outreach to building relationships with first responders.

Among the many avenues ADT pursues in that vein is its LifeSaver Award program. ADT recently presented a $10,000 check to the Texas Association of First Responders in Houston as part of a Life-Saver incident involving a customer who experienced a home invasion.

The ADT emergency dispatcher who received the signal from the home’s burglar alarm maintained contact with the terrified customer while also communicating real-time with Houston Police dispatchers through Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP).

“ADT is committed to working with the broader security industry to promote our value, develop standards and partnerships, address common concerns, and expand our market,” says ADT Vice President of IT Tom Nakatani. “Our team members participate in many organizations and regulatory bodies as both members and leaders, as there is great benefit to pooling resources.”

While things like LifeSaver are high profile, it is the smaller operational facets and details that ADT closely watches, acts upon and seeks to improve that qualified it as the 2018 Police Dispatch Quality Award runner-up.

Just ahead, Nakatani elaborates on central components of the company’s alarm management tactics. For more on ADT, reference SSI’s July 2018 “Best of the Best” article and March 2017 feature profile.

How is ADT’s commitment to alarm management made evident?

TOM NAKATANI: ADT has consistently worked on reducing alarm activity throughout our history. This is evidenced by our investing in new technologies, creating and adopting best practices to verify alarms, educating our customers, and working with our public safety partners and industry groups.

How do you coordinate installation and monitoring efforts? What does each side bring to the table?

NAKATANI: Each of our monitoring centers meets monthly with the local branch technicians and management to review current issues and develop best practices. These are communicated out to the broader organization and incorporated as part of our regular operating procedures. Each team brings a different perspective to issues and problem solving. Having our own monitoring centers gives us a comprehensive view of alarm activity. Our policies and procedures are developed with all areas of the business and with consistency across operations.

What were the challenges implementing the plan on the customer side?

NAKATANI: There is always an investment of time required to diagnose what’s causing alarm activity. Individual customers have been very responsive when ADT engages them and have been very receptive to putting solutions in place.

What kind of feedback have you received from colleagues and other monitoring providers?

NAKATANI: Working with our colleagues in the security industry is always a pleasure and hopefully inspiring to all parties. However, the industry will need to adapt to other types of companies entering this space, bring them onboard with our mission of protecting lives and property, and expand our market in new ways.

How are advances in communications and technologies affecting alarm management; how is ADT navigating that?

NAKATANI: ADT and the industry have more information available to understand our activity than ever before. Programs to analyze the data, create scorecards and metrics, and develop improvements are part of our daily routine. Working with our strategic partners and key suppliers is critical to keeping on top of industry trends.

Does ADT offer video verification? Is ADT part of the Partnership for Priority Verifi ed Alarm Response (PPVAR)?

NAKATANI: Video, and video verification service, is a key part of future alarm response. There are many advances being made to cameras, video analytics and the ability to communicate this information to first responders. ADT is a member of PPVAR, which is leading the way in many of these discussions and training.

What impact might DIY and MIY have on false alarms?

NAKATANI: The increased number of locations with security protection will inherently increase the number of alarms. This space is rapidly changing so we’ll need a little more time to see the results.

Looking at the industry, what is the future of police response to burglar alarm systems? Pockets of problems still pop up. Why?

NAKATANI: There are significant changes occurring in the public safety space and the security industry will need to keep pace. Working with the police and emergency responders to provide them with the information they can use will improve response and help protect our customers.

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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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