Habitec Security Reducing False Alarms Much to Satisfaction of Local Police Department
Habitec has reduced false alarms in Toledo, Ohio by 65% as a result of the program.
“Our entire company has embraced false alarm reduction,” adds Smythe. “We understand it is good for law enforcement, our company and the industry as a whole. With these combined efforts we have taken our dispatch rate from .68 to .24. We are very proud of our progress and consider it an honor to be recognized.”
Given the service, satisfaction, harmony and superior public safety prudent alarm management among provider, customer and law enforcement, instituting policies and procedures such as Habitec’s makes an unimpeachable business case all around. Furthermore, the company’s newfound PDQ notoriety serves notice and encourages other providers that they need not be a large, national company to implement effective and responsible programs.
SSI pumped Smythe for all the details on the company’s false alarm regimen, his take on the industry’s approach to the issue and the keys to Habitec’s overall success.
What drove Habitec Security to mount a comprehensive false alarm reduction program?
John Smythe: We always knew false alarms were an industry problem, but never peeled back the shell to look if we were part of the problem. I had friends in the industry who told me about two-call verification and other false alarm management programs that they had implemented. This made me run our false alarms stats. In 2012, we determined that we had an alarm factor of 0.8 and we then knew we were part of the problem. At that point we developed a false alarm committee with an action plan and started working on the problem.
Who are the primary people responsible for developing, implementing, fine tuning and maintaining the program? How was the mission accomplished organizationally?
Smythe: Tracy Ehrsam, central station manager, Pat Ehrsam, director of operations and myself. We met with all department heads to determine how they could be of help on false alarm reduction. After analyzing all of their input we created an action plan and began implementation.
What modifications to the plan had to be made along the way and why? What are some of the areas you would still like to see improvement in and what are you doing to achieve it?
Smythe: We went for the largest reduct
ion first with the implementation of ECV and more frequent requests for updated contact information. Since then we have researched higher volume false alarms issues and went after these areas including outdoor motion protection and residential panic alarms. We would like to implement a more cost-effective video verification option. I believe our manufacturers will have great solutions for this in the very foreseeable future.
How costly of an undertaking was this; how did you budget for it?
Smythe: The cost to implement our plan of action was minimal. Our senior management team was involved from the beginning, and determined we could accomplish all of this with existing staffing levels. The implementation of two-call verification has saved our operators time by reducing callbacks to the authorities to cancel alarms.
How difficult was it to get Habitec’s personnel to conform to the new policies and procedures? What has the internal feedback been?
Smythe: I would say the feedback was mostly positive. Our sales staff had to get used to explaining ECV and why it’s a better form of response. Reducing false alarms equals faster response to good alarms.
What are the advantages of operating your own central rather than contracting with a third-party monitoring company?
Smythe: We would never have been this successful with a third-party central station. Owning our central station was critical to our success. It allows us to implement changes quickly and react to problems that we see in an effective manner. It allowed us to take 100% ownership of the project.
What standards and practices do you believe are most important for successful alarm management?
Smythe: Proper end-user training on install is critical. It is important for our customers to feel comfortable using their systems, which will also lead to fewer false alarms. ECV is very effective in reducing false alarms. We feel that it should be mandated by all jurisdictions.
What were the challenges in implementing the plan on the customer side? What has the overall feedback been from your customer base?
Smythe: We had very little issues with the implementation of ECV. Any customers that did have an issue initially understood why we were doing this after we discussed it with them. General false alarm management is more difficult with commercial accounts. Just 3% of our customers cause 65% of our false alarms, and a majority of them our commercial/governmental clients.
We work very closely with law enforcement in our area. I am on a committee with the Toledo Police Department that helps review false alarm policies. They have noticed and appreciated a reduction in false dispatches from Habitec. Another large county in our area went to required two-call verification shortly after we made it company policy. They are believers in the value of alarm systems and appreciate our efforts to eliminate any nuisance that they may cause.
What were the challenges implementing the plan on the law enforcement side? How did you get their buy-in?
Smythe: We work very closely with law enforcement in our area. I am on a committee with the Toledo Police Department that helps review false alarm policies. They have noticed and appreciated a reduction in false dispatches from Habitec. Another large county in our area went to required two-call verification shortly after we made it company policy. They are believers in the value of alarm systems and appreciate our efforts to eliminate any nuisance that they may cause.
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