Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) 2002 North American Monitoring Technology Symposium and Exh

Training, false alarms, new technology and networking were the focal points of the Central Station Alarm Association’s (CSAA) 2002 North American Monitoring Technology Symposium and Exhibition (NAMTSE) at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Ariz., April 26-30. The event, which, prior to 2001, was known as the CSAA Mid-Year Meeting, attracted about 200 CSAA members, exhibitors and other industry professionals.

Educational opportunities ranged from daylong sessions on being UL Listed and fire alarm codes and standard, to half-hour seminars addressing phone line services and CCTV.

During the “Everything You Wanted to Know About Insurance – But We Afraid to Ask!” seminar, a panel of insurance experts spent an hour answering whatever questions attendees threw at them. Increased liability exposure related to the rise in CCTV use, the proliferation of electronic data and additionally insuring other parties were among the hot topics.

“I recommend the CCTV and access control aspects of an installation are spelled out in policies, along with burglar and fire alarms, to provide maximum protection,” said Rick Gombar of Rick Gombar Insurance Services. Michael Kelly of Michael J. Kelly Insurance Agency added, “Many issues are surfacing in the gray area of electronic data – having it lost, stolen, shared and so on. It is a concern and something to watch out for.”

As for having other parties covered on your policy, Alice Cornet of USI Insurance suggested, “In most cases, I would try to get it deleted from your contracts when it’s a client monitored by a central station. It is not as much an issue for installing/service companies.”

David Crawford of Sur-Gard covered how central stations can more efficiently handle incoming signals in his “Phone Line Services That Will Save You Money” presentation. According to Crawford, a channel bank can help central stations keep their phone lines 80-percent active, allowing them to either increase volume or reduce the number of lines. He put forth a scenario in which, if a central station has 50,000 accounts with an average of four signals per day, 277 hours of line time could be eliminated monthly.

Another seminar, “The Dos and Don’ts of Video Sales, Installation and Monitoring” featured Tannenbaum & Chanin’s Eric Pritchard going into some depth about the legal and privacy issues pertaining to CCTV use, particularly if it is covert. Pritchard said companies are leaving themselves open to potential liability if their installation or monitoring falls into one of the following five areas.

1) Wrongful design or installation

2) Product defect

3) Failure to monitor or respond

4) Invasion of privacy/improper use

5) Violation of wiretap use laws

However, he offered defenses for these pitfalls, such as making sure you have insurance that includes a limitation of liability/exculpatory clause. As a general guideline, Pritchard recommended, “Be mindful of violating employees’ privacy when doing work for companies or installing in public places.”

Robert Blair of Optex Inc. explained how event-driven CCTV monitoring and outdoor perimeter protection can meet all the desirable criteria for solving the false alarm problem. During the session, entitled “Real Business for CCTV,” Blair said, “Addressing and solving the false alarm problem ourselves could create great opportunities for monitoring facilities.”

Speaking of the false alarm issue, CSAA Board member Robert Bonifas of Alarm Detection Systems Inc. says progress is imminent in the form of widespread implementation of second-call verification. “We believe that second-call verification is going to take a chunk out of our false alarms,” contended Bonifas. This approach is said to have the potential of eliminating about 75 percent of false dispatches.

The exhibition portion of the event took place on Sunday, April 29. More than 30 companies, including Radionics, Ademco, DMP, Fire-Lite Alarms and Security Sales & Integration demonstrated their wares for attendees.

CSAA events typically include a strong element of socializing, and the Tucson edition was no exception. One of the highlights “Shoot-Out in the Wild West,” an outing to the Old Tucson Studios for dinner, a live show, stunts, saloon musicals and stagecoach rides. The attraction has served as the backdrop for hundreds of Hollywood westerns.

Not everything was rosy at this year’s NAMTSE, however. Unfortunately—perhaps due to the lure of temperatures approaching the 90s and no shortage of golf courses—attendance at many of the seminars and, particularly, at vendors’ booth exhibits, was somewhat scant. Several speakers, exhibitors and even CSAA event organizers expressed disappointment at the low turnout.

It’s clear that, despite having some very capable people putting the program together, there is work yet to be done for this event to reach its full potential. Perhaps next year….

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