On March 31, I again had the distinct honor of being able to reveal and present the Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award’s annual winner. This year it was Atronic Alarms of Lenexa, Kan., with Custom Alarm of Rochester, Minn., and ADT Security Services of Boca Raton, Fla., being the other finalists. You can read all about it in the May issue of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION.
The PDQ program is near and dear to my heart as it developed out of a concept I presented to Stan Martin, now executive director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), and Larry Dischert, now retired but at the time director of industry and regulator liaison for ADT, during an ISC West show earlier this decade. A couple of years later the vision was realized with the addition of the False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA).
Established jointly in 2005 by SSI, SIAC and FARA, the PDQ program aims to curtail the false alarm problem by recognizing installing and monitoring companies that follow established industry best practices and partner with law enforcement to achieve the highest quality in police dispatch requests. The goal is to raise industry-wide awareness, motivate alarm firms to be proactive and provide models that work for others to follow.
As is often the case, I gathered far more material than could possibly be shoehorned into the print article and so here I give loyal Under Surveillance readers the fourth part of five bonus postings covering this year’s PDQ program. This installment allows you to learn more about ADT’s False Alarm Dispatch Elimination (FADE) initiative. Bill Cooper, industry liaison for ADT, explains what makes it tick.
Who are the primary people responsible for developing, implementing, fine tuning and maintaining the program? How was the mission accomplished organizationally?
Bill Cooper: Bill Moody was the original architect of ADT’s FADE program and spent many years working with every ADT office in communities across the nation to implement the program. Recently, ADT relaunched FADE with the theme, “Give our Heroes a Hand,” as the platform for energizing our associates and engaging the community. Today online training for the FADE program is in use across the country.
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?
Cooper: A large part of the relaunch of the FADE program was the implementation of Enhanced Call Verification (ECV) across ADT’s existing customer base. Some customers were adamant about not participating and so we had to adjust our process to support both methods. Hopefully one day, ECV will be as common as premise verification has become.
First implemented in the 1980s, ADT’s False Alarm Dispatch Elimination (FADE) program is a multifaceted effort.
How costly of an undertaking was this; how did you budget for it? How does it fit into ROI terms?
Cooper: ADT sent out 3.5 million letters to its customers notifying them of the implementation of ECV. In addition, ADT has committed full-time, dedicated professional staff members whose jobs are to integrate alarm management best practices at the ADT field level and in the community. We consider these important investments in working toward the goal of making a significant impact on the proper use of alarm systems and the appropriate notification of alarms to agencies having jurisdiction.
Has the bad economy impacted your false alarm efforts in any ways?
Cooper: To a small degree, for example, customers who would have upgraded their systems due to age or system failures are likely to delay that expense if they can. On the other hand, the customer education component of our FADE program makes it especially important in a down economy because customers who are familiar with the correct operation of their systems are much less likely to trigger false alarms thereby avoiding false alarm fees.
How difficult was it to get ADT’s personnel to conform to the new policies and procedures? What has the internal feedback been?
Cooper: The ADT field organization embraced the FADE program once they understood the enormous impact inappropriate police notifications can have. They also recognize how important the issue is to customers. By offering the option of online training, ADT sales representatives and field technicians were able to more easily participate in the training at flexible times to accommodate their schedules so that aspect of the program has been very well received.
What were the challenges in implementing the plan on the customer side? What has the overall feedback been from your customer base?
Cooper: Some customers don’t appreciate the burden that is placed upon the law enforcement community and insist that the PD be notified without any verification efforts, but by far the majority of customers allow us to take the necessary steps to verify alarms before notification.
During 2008, ADT’s overall false alarm police dispatch rate of more than 5 million customers was .45.
Looking at the industry, what do you believe is going to happen with police response to burglar alarm systems? Is the situation getting better or worse?
Cooper: Many municipalities have recognized financial benefit from implementing false alarm policy and permit programs and we think they will continue to respond, especially if the alarm industry continues its efforts to reduce false activations. We have seen cites that have implemented nonresponse ordinances, now second guess their decision and move back toward the model ordinance with a fine and fee structure.
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