ASAP Is Moving From Dedicated Server Hardware to the Cloud — Here’s What It Means

While ASAP already provides tremendous value, a technology refresh is underway to lay the foundation for future innovation that will add even more value to the service.

Communicating effectively and efficiently is the heart and soul of every business. This is particularly true for companies that provide the fire and security services your customers depend on to protect life, property and information.

Alarm monitoring services depend on alarm activation information getting to a monitoring center, the monitoring center quickly interacting with the alarm user and the monitoring center notifying first responders. All these depend on communications.

Understandably, The Monitoring Association (TMA) and its members dedicate significant resources focused on standards and programs that are communications related. Thus TMA has always been engaged in issues that affect our members’ capacity to receive and deliver signals.

TMA’s Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) manages our industry’s response to technological communications issues that involve the U.S. Congress and/or the FCC.

AICC led the successful effort that resulted in our having access to the National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), commonly referred to as FirstNet, for alarm signal transmission. The NPSBN is a nationwide LTE network designed for the mission-critical needs of public safety.

Those managing their company’s conversion from 3G to LTE may want to explore the benefits of using FirstNet’s NPSBN. AICC is also working hard to have security service provider phone calls to customers not erroneously blocked or mislabeled as fraud.

Our industry’s products and services adhere to UL and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. Many of these standards have a communication-related component. TMA’s Standards Committee workgroups actively participate on those organizations’ standards committees, representing the monitoring industry’s interests. Given that many of the standards are codified into law at the state and local legislative level, participation in this effort is crucial.

The greatest inventions of the past several decades were made possible by communications networks, particularly the Internet. TMA’s groundbreaking ASAP-to-PSAP service is at its core a data transport service also made possible by a network platform — the Nlets/Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) nationwide network.

While ASAP has been providing tremendous value to the monitoring industry and public safety, a technology refresh is underway to lay the foundation for future innovation that will add even more value to the service. The technology refresh is moving the ASAP environment from dedicated server hardware to the Cloud.

This conversion will allow ASAP to support calls-for-service to fire and EMS Emergency Communication Centers (ECC, formerly-called PSAP) that are not served by Nlets, providing additional effectiveness and efficiency to the program. ASAP connections to private guard services are also on TMA’s roadmap.

Providing additional paths to responding organizations is just the beginning of what the technology refresh enables. Big Data concepts will be the foundation for innovation that utilizes ASAP as the transport medium to public safety. Technological advances in sensor design has raised the quantity and quality of data collected by fire and security services.

The value of such data to both public and private organizations is well established. Big Data is transforming the way our industry, alarm users and first responders accomplish routine, as well as emergency, responsibilities. Existing initiatives within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) establish frameworks for data sharing within public safety.

The datasets generated by commercial sources, including the monitoring industry, will continue to grow in value to public safety. Real-time data collected by security providers, particularly video, will serve to improve situational awareness and, most importantly, improve first-responder safety.

TMA is taking the lead in using available data to enhance fire and security services through the creation of a new ANSI standard, TMA-AVS-01. The new standard will define consistent “alarm scoring” metrics based on available data.

Alarm scores transmitted to public safety in a standardized manner will minimize workflows within public safety, allowing public safety to take advantage of the data without the burden of receiving and analyzing it themselves. Calls for service to ECCs that include a standardized scoring metric will assist public safety departments that opt-in to the program with their alarm response policies.

These are exciting times for TMA, our industry, the public safety community as well as the families and businesses we serve and protect. Keep pace with these significant industry advancements by visiting tma.us.


Celia Besore is Executive Director of The Monitoring Association.

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