Passion for Protecting People

If you are in the security business, you need a passion for protecting people. It’s that simple. You can’t just join the industry and expect to make a buck.

Jay Hauhn, President of the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA, http://csaaintl.org/) , spoke about why a passion for protecting people, their homes, businesses, families and communities is so important in an interview with SDM Magazine: http://www.sdmmag.com/articles/90734-as-hauhn-retires-from-tycois-sdm-captures-his-reflections-on-the-industry.

Jay’s thoughts dovetail with ours when it comes to improving management of alarm systems. For SIAC, that includes everything from educating companies and associations in the industry, to consumers who ultimately must be schooled on how to operate the system properly. It means sharing information across state borders (and provinces in Canada) through multiple venues so that the companies in the electronic security industry do the right thing when it comes to installing and servicing alarms, using the right equipment and educating customers. And it means operating closely and cooperatively with law enforcement to come up with smart and workable solutions to local problems with nuisance alarm activations.

We’re passionate about these issues because it means a lot to us, and we believe fundamentally it means a lot to the long-term success of the electronic security industry. As we close in on Christmas and the start of a new year, we want to wish all our readers the best, and thank our contributors. Our staff works hard every day, and Ron Walters, Glen Mowrey, Steve Keefer, Tom Sweeney, Jon Sargent and Ron Haner are the people in the field, tirelessly getting things done, giving of themselves to help build and improve relationships. My special thanks to all of you for what you do.

See you next year.

 Stan Martin — December 18, 2014

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Do Your Research on Security Companies

If you are a consumer seeking a reputable home or business security company for an installation, SIAC recommends you do some research before making your final decision. You want your family, assets and employees protected in a responsible, ethical and effective manner.

Both the Better Business Bureaus around the U.S. and the Federal Trade Commission have recommendations on their Web sites for you to check. They give you specific details on what to look for, and where a red flag is being raised.

We would add an issue or two for your consideration. One question for consumers to ask is about a company’s alarm management program. First, do they have one? If so, what specific measures do they take to reduce nuisance alarms and ensure systems are properly operated and maintained by the installing company?

Consumers should ask these questions to find out about the security company’s commitment to quality installations and alarm management. Taking additional steps to manage alarms the right way says something about the business selling, installing and maintaining the system to you. It says they are committed.

Seeing that commitment provides you additional information about a company’s integrity and how they operate. In many ways, it’s just plain good business to have a high quality alarm management program. Asking questions helps you get the answers you need to make a better decision. Contact SIAC, if you’d like to better understanding of what to look for: http://www.siacininc.org. You can also go to ESA’s consumer Web site address — http://www.alarm.org/ — for more tips and finding a member company.

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Volunteer Approach in Carson City

Here at SIAC, we like to pioneer new approaches to update alarm management practices. That means looking around at communities throughout North America, find out what works and what doesn’t, and appropriately share success models with the security industry. Steve Keefer, one of SIAC’s key staff members, recently came across a great example in Carson City, NV.

It’s a simple approach being taken by the Sheriff’s Office there. They use volunteers to track down nuisance alarm activations at local businesses. Two volunteers work with the Sheriff’s staff solely on alarm reduction activities.

The volunteers obtain call for service information from their agency of recent commercial alarm activations and responses by patrol officers. The volunteers then physically visit each business, politely introduce themselves and address the false alarm activation.

They share methods to reduce further false alarms and, according to what Steve reports, are almost always met with full cooperation. The volunteers leave with a critical and lasting contact, while potentially changing the habits of employees which caused the false alarm.

That’s good stuff. Law enforcement resources are extended. Progress is made in reducing unwanted alarm activations. The local business community becomes better connected to the people it serves.

This effort correlates well with what we know to be factual — nearly all citizens will cooperate on alarm dispatch reduction efforts once they realize there is a problem in their community. When alarm users are made aware of the problem directly from law enforcement (or volunteers officially representing the agency), they will normally take immediate corrective action. This does not preclude the alarm industry from doing its part to notify them as well by telephone or electronic notice. People take it more seriously when notified by the agency itself.

A new alarm ordinance or policy isn’t the only way to improve alarm management practices. As Carson City Sheriff Furlong has demonstrated, sometimes it just takes a little ingenuity and volunteer effort to make things better.

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Retail Theft at $42 Billion Last Year in U.S.

When you hear a dollar figure like $42 billion in retail theft last year in the U.S., it makes you stop. It’s one of those numbers that hits home and tells you: This is one of the major reasons the security industry provides a powerful function to not just homeowners, but to many small businesses across the country.

Outside the U.S., shrink was tagged at $128 billion globally in 2013, according to the latest Global Retail Theft Barometer (conducted by the research firm The Smart Cube and Ernie Deyle, a retail loss prevention analyst). The annual cost of shrink to U.S. shoppers (when these costs are passed on from the retailer to each of us as consumers) averaged $403 per household. Those are astounding numbers. Take a moment to think about them.

These figures buttress the importance of what the security industry does for our customers: By preventing retail theft, we protect the bottom line of businesses, and the consumers they serve.

We encourage you to talk about the value in operating alarm systems effectively when selling security products and services to retailers. Beyond proper installation and high standard equipment, make sure employees understand how to arm and disarm a system. That helps keep down the number of nuisance alarms.

Retail theft is a reality. Let’s make nuisance alarms less of a reality by taking the extra steps to implement the highest quality alarm management programs in retail businesses.

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Many Arrows in the Quiver

By: Stan Martin, SIAC Executive Director

Last week we discussed in our SIAC blog how one size does not fit all when it comes to solving inadvertent alarm activations. Each community is unique, so solutions must be unique.

We like to look at the solutions SIAC advocates as different arrows in the quiver. The different arrows help improve alarm management in different ways. Our goal is to build confidence in what the security industry can accomplish when we are asked to help out. We measure the needs locally from all parties before we apply solutions. And we customize, as necessary.

There are a lot of opinions voiced in our industry on alarm management issues. Some argue for a single source solution, from a single point-of-view, without considering the consequences of all parties involved. In my experience as an alarm dealer, association leader, distributor and liaison to the law enforcement community, I’ve come to see all sides and how important it is to recognize there is not “just one solution.”

Alarm management solutions that yield long-term harmony and satisfaction must benefit all stakeholders — law enforcement, our customers and our businesses. Otherwise you’ll find yourself back at the negotiating table with less credibility, making it even more difficult to achieve the desired results.

We have many practices that are well-proven in multiple locations: http://www.siacinc.org/. The more of them applied, the better results you’ll see with dispatch reductions.

Let’s be reasonable and practical in our approaches, and involve all the key parties. That’s a great starting point to decide which arrows to pull from the quiver.

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Solutions Must Provide Tangible Benefits

Old thinking used to say that because tax dollars pay for the manpower to respond to alarms in a community, that numerous “free” responses from law enforcement was okay, or that citizens expect and deserve continued service. Up to a point that may be true, but only up to a point. There is a level when those responses by police prove to be a drag on their resources, and the security industry has to be ready with solutions that work to drive down those unwanted activations.

Our solutions must deliver tangible and long-term benefits. Otherwise we risk returning to the way things were, which often meant reduced credibility for the electronic security industry and likely hostile attitudes on both sides of the issue of alarm responsibilities.

We (SIAC) help explain the facts to local officials based on real data and experience. That’s an advantage we provide our industry as a non-profit entity set up to improve alarm management practices across North America.

Based on that experience, four or five free responses for unnecessary alarm activation is not recommended and kills the effectiveness of a proposed ordinance. We consistently recommend one or two free responses and will even support no free responses. Fewer works better to effectively bring users into compliance. Since 90% of the users will not have even one dispatch per year, we are now targeting the 2-3% users that are chronic abusers. That’s the tangible benefit.

Even if only one free dispatch response is included in the ordinance, that means 97% of alarm holders will not be fined. A good ordinance is about weeding out the bad apples, fixing the problem and maintaining a firm response to alarms.

Giving three, four or five free responses is like letting the speeding car driver have 3, 4, or 5 warning tickets before penalizing him. If we want action, the penalties need to be more stringent and enforced, otherwise the corrective action is negated.

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SAMMY Award Submissions Due by December 19

One of the institutions within the electronic security industry is the SAMMY awards. They have been around for 20+ years. SIAC believes strongly in the SAMMY’s because they recognize the breadth of companies represented within our industry. In many ways, the installing and monitoring companies are great examples of the continued growth of entrepreneurship in North America.

Most companies are not national. It’s the smaller guys with their combined reach who have the biggest percentage impact in terms of customers served. The SAMMY’s recognize this and make sure companies with less than 200 employees are rewarded (along with larger companies).

With that diversity of companies come challenges. At SIAC, one of the big challenges is educating and informing all these different-sized businesses about the importance of progressive alarm management technologies, programs and tools. Some of the awards within the SAMMY’s can be used to explain and educate on better alarm management practices – your newsletter and sales and marketing brochures, for example.

Go to this link to find out more about the SAMMY awards: http://www.securitysales.com/article/20th_annual_sammy_awards_now_open_for_entries. There are many categories for submissions. We hope you find some that fit programs you have in place with your company that are top tier. Striving for that excellence is always a worthy goal. Good luck with your entries.

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