COPS Monitoring Believes It’s Incumbent to Be Redundant

COPS received a TMA/SSI Monitoring Technology Marvel Award runner-up honor for providing peace of mind through its six redundant monitoring centers.

One of the best things about having good friends is the reassurance that there’s someone who looks out for your best interests and as they say, has your back. That’s also ultimately what consumers and business owners want from their security systems providers — in effect a friend watching out for them and what they deem important. It goes back to delivering that proverbial peace of mind.

For monitoring centers, one of the most powerful representations of that security provider promise to be in times of need no matter what is ensuring facilities are as failsafe as possible.

While there are many elements to that, redundancy is at the top of the list and no one in the industry takes that more seriously than COPS Monitoring. Founded more than 40 years ago, the wholesale, third-party central station today operates six fully equipped, redundant centers across the country.

That takes a heck of an investment and commitment to being able to contend with any set of circumstances to process alarm signals or otherwise meet the needs of its large network of dealers and their millions of end customers. For those efforts, COPS Monitoring has been recognized as a runner-up for the 2020 TMA/SSI Monitoring Technology Marvel Award.

“We believe our redundancy, which is based both on technology and people, is the most comprehensive in the industry,” says COPS Monitoring President Jim McMullen. “From a technology standpoint, we have mission-critical technology deployed at multiple sites and utilize several IP/telephone carriers, telecom facilities and diverse routes to our facilities. If these local layers of communications or equipment redundancy were to fail, we can automatically redirect call and signal traffic to another location without interruption. Still, the ability to redirect traffic would be meaningless unless we had the people available to respond to alarms. History has taught us that when we had just two sites, 50% of our staff could not effectively handle 100% of our signal traffic. This is why we continued to open a total of six monitoring locations so that we could withstand the loss of one or even two sites without making a material difference in our service levels.”

According to McMullen, the most common threat to maintaining quality of service are local conditions that impact a monitoring facility. Not only do local situations such as hurricanes, nor’easters, floods, severe weather, fires or other extreme conditions tend to significantly increase signal traffic from alarm systems, they also present logistical and safety concerns of getting employees to work.

Though they may be able to receive signals, two-site or fewer monitoring companies may not be able to timely respond, he contends. In addition to diversifying its technology, COPS has addressed this problem distributing an average of 16.7% of its staffing across all six monitoring center sites.

Thus if something unexpected happens to one facility, roughly 80% of the company’s staff from its other five locations is ready to handle alarm traffic. This configuration even proved beneficial managing through the current pandemic.

“Though the COVID-19 pandemic took everyone by surprise, we began planning for the unexpected when we opened our second monitoring center in 2004,” says McMullen. “Now we are uniquely prepared to endure an outbreak because our technology and staffing is distributed across six locations. We did make changes to our disaster preparedness plans in response to the pandemic. Some of the changes included procuring an inventory of hundreds of new laptops, expanding our ability for employees to connect securely, and documented procedures to allow employees in all departments to work from home if necessary.”

COPS Monitoring continues to push the envelope in others areas of technology as well. McMullen estimates the business consistently reinvests almost $150,000 per month back into operations.

A recent $1 million investment included a phone upgrade to all locations, deployment of Avaya Breeze to enable advanced integration with the Generations monitoring platform, critical systems upgraded from standard hard disk to high-speed solid-state drives and a state-of-the-art HVAC system being added to the computer room at its Williamstown, N.J., headquarters.

“We’re continually reinvesting in our facilities. Sometimes the investments include offering new services such as the recent buildout of our new mPERS center and our current preparation to offer ASAP-to-PSAP,” adds McMullen. “Other times, significant investments are spent behind the scenes so we can continue to provide reliable services and to stay ahead of the technology curve and the demands on our infrastructure.”

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