Making Technicians Less Technical

Guest Column from SIAC’s Ron Walters:

This doesn’t only sound like a broken record; it is a broken record, for those of you who remember what a record is.

This is a pretty basic concept: Alarm users cause 75% of all false alarms and false dispatches. So why does it seem like the industry feels it isn’t something they need to deal with?

The truth is that far north of 90% of all customers are trained by an installer or service technician. This training is most commonly done at the end of the installation, which is also most likely to be at the end of the day. Not only is this technician tired, so is the customer. And technicians have that title for simple reason: They are technical. They are not schooled in communications.

Very generally speaking, technical people have a tendency to believe that everyone knows at least the basics about alarms and their installation, but truthfully more often than not a new customer is looking at an alarm arming station for the first time. Even if they’ve previously had a system, what is the likelihood that this one functions like the last one?

Over two years ago SIAC developed a complete training program to train technicians on how best to train alarm users. We know this material is over 90% effective, not because the industry has applied it. We know it is effective because law enforcement has embraced it and taught our customers how to use our systems.
These materials are FREE to you and we encourage you to not only use them, you are welcome to brand them with your company name. Please at least review them and give us some feedback.

Follow this link to receive your FREE copy of end user training. Make sure you download both the support documents and the Power Point presentation.

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Securing New Ground set for October 29-30 in NYC

There are several major conferences throughout the year that SIAC believes serve important functions for security industry professionals. “Securing New Ground” (SNG) is one of them. It is set for October 29-30 in New York City (NYC):
SNG is a Security Industry Association (SIA)-run event. This year, it will include two separate tracks – one for commercial and one for residential security markets. Setting the tracks up this way is designed to connect integrators, dealers and installers directly to the end user.

SIAC recognizes not every company in our business can attend every conference. We all work on budgets and we all must determine the types of events to attend that benefit the bottom line for our organizations and employees. Though it may not be best suited for small alarm dealers, if you are a new entrant, a manufacturer, system integrator, dealer, installer or end user, SNG is a good choice help provide you with valuable information on industry trends and networking opportunities. It is attended by top industry people.

SNG will give up you an opportunity to learn about issues that impact your business from leaders and colleagues in the security industry. Gaining a better understanding of trends, research and strategies arms you with information to improve your bottom line. If you don’t make it to SNG, we encourage you to continue looking for other events or conferences that cover the full range of issues the security industry will face in the years ahead, including ESX, ISC East and ISC West

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Two Alabama Sheriff’s Departments add ASAP

Two Alabama Sheriff’s Departments have recently added the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) to their response systems. The change typically helps jurisdictions improve response times and reduce human error. SIAC supports the use of ASAP and is glad to see it gaining traction in communities across North America.

In this most recent case, the Limestone and Morgan County Sheriff’s Departments made the upgrades to improve response times, record-keeping and the handling of security alarms. The technology allows the direct transmission of the alarm signal to the departments rather than requiring the use of an operator to route the calls.

The new systems record the information, address and telephone number of the caller, and place a time stamp on the call. By eliminating the need to write this information by hand, calls should be dispatched more quickly and effectively than was done previously.

It’s good to see ASAP making inroads with police and sheriff’s departments. The technology is an aid to law enforcement agencies, particularly as they look for new ways to continue providing the services citizens have come to expect, and to do so efficiently.

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Polling on Unethical Door-to-Door Sales

Security Systems News (SSN) has come up with a unique idea for determining how big of a problem unethical door knockers are for the alarm industry. They’ve recently put out a poll, posing a number of questions to determine what members of our industry think about issues related to door-to-door selling techniques. You can access it here: Scroll to the bottom to find the poll.

Door-to-door sales are a completely acceptable practice if done properly. It is a way to meet face-to-face with a potential customer to share information in an open manner. Companies like Vivint, ADT and Tyco have stepped up and signed the Electronic Security Association’s (ESA) revised code of ethics to tighten up acceptable door-to-door sales practices. That’s a big step and a visible one for others in our industry.

As SSN points out in the introduction to the poll, there have been some highly visible efforts made to fight unethical approaches in door-to-door sales, including the ESA revisions noted above. Additionally, ADT is offering $25,000 to whistleblowers who expose a company that trains their sales personnel in deceptive techniques.

Those are two ways to help combat this problem facing our industry. Certainly there are more. The poll seeks to get your input on what some of the other best methods might be to combat deceptive sales.

If you have a few moments, click on the link we attached above. It’s a good service SSN is providing the security industry, and the more people who weigh in, the more likely it will be that we come up with some new ideas to further reduce this ongoing problem.

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Can Better Security Information Decrease Unwanted Alerts?

Can better security information decrease unwanted alarm activations? We believe so, and we also believe that the more we know about what goes wrong with a security system, the more the information arms us to do a better job. A huge part of our job here at SIAC is pulling together useful information for our industry so that we manage alarms more effect ively.

What type of information is useful to alarm security industry? The causes of those unnecessary alarm activations is one. Knowing what triggers the alarm accidently is the first step to correcting the problem. We have a tremendous amount of information and resources to help you. Just go to our Web site to find out more:

More information you can use includes the best methods for reducing unwanted alarm activations. Again, SIAC is here to help with data proven to significantly reduce unwanted activations. We’ve compiled this from successful programs across the United States and Canada. Year after year, we refine these materials, add to our data bases and make it available publicly. One of the best takeaways for you is that you can adapt the information to the specifics of your community, work with local officials to come up with alarm ordinance programs that make the most sense give the crucial variables in the jurisdictions our service.

Finally, there is information only a specific company can find, hone and use. Each alarm company should look at the causes and solutions to problem alarms in your customer base. You must dive deeply into “why” a certain home, business or organization has too many nuisance alarm activations, then use the answer to that question to craft a plan of action.

Use information wisely, and your customer satisfaction will rise. So will your customer base. And you will build solid relationships with law enforcement in the communities you serve. We believe those are all good reasons to research and apply that information in your business.

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New ESA Tool to Help Evaluate Products

The Electronic Security Association (ESA) recently announced a guide to help security companies evaluate and select new products and services. SIAC believes this will be another useful tool to improve alarm installations, and continue to reduce unwanted alarm activations.

This type of research will assist a company in finding the equipment best designed for the types of installations they focus on in their business model. The guide provides a checklist for the reader, allowing personalization for your business.

The Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF – funded the project, another example of the ongoing help the organization provides our industry.

The guide will be located on and accessible by ESA members only. To find out more, please contact Shannon Murphy, ESA VP of Sales & Marketing at 972-807-6835 or via email at

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Should Public Buildings be Exempted?

This is the third and final installment from SIAC’s Ron Walters on how public buildings are affected by alarm ordinance provisions.

Exempting public buildings from the provisions of an alarm ordinance is not uncommon; but neither are ordinances that do not exempt them. The city has no obligation to exempt buildings occupied by the US Government, State Agencies, County Buildings or even City-occupied buildings. In particular, there is no obligation to exempt schools that are the worst of the worst. In fact many school districts now have their own police forces, and yet in many instances these dedicated law enforcement agencies aren’t tasked to provide their own response, at least until they are asked to do it. And yes, there have been instances where it was as simple as asking.

Like many things in government, it comes down to the will of the elected officials to take a stand for what is right and fair. When these exemptions are in place there is no motivation to correct the behavior. It is simply not fair to hold the citizens and taxpayers to a higher standard than their government.

Finally, if public buildings are exempted from the provisions of any alarm ordinance, then it is only fair that when evaluating the effectiveness of the program, all statistics associated with the exempted buildings should not be factored into the results.

If in the end you are left with these occupancies being exempted then you should follow some minimum procedures and requirements detailed below.

• The alarm must be registered even if there is no fee to be charged. The registration must include the primary person responsible for the alarm system and off hour contact numbers so they can be contacted on each dispatch.

• Make certain that you also have contact numbers for the entity responsible for servicing and monitoring the system. They should also be contacted on every dispatch at the time of the incident.

• When an address proves to be a problem system (more than three responses in a year) we recommend that you either speak to the responsible person, or better yet visit them. It would also be very helpful if a chief or assistant chief write a letter to the department head suggesting that service and or training be undertaken.

• We can’t stress enough the value of minimizing the number of people that have access to any building that has an alarm system. Restricting access includes minimizing the number of keys to the building. These are things to cover with the alarm company provider and have them do the heavy lifting as far as communication with the alarm customer.

• These solutions will provide some level of control over sites that are abusing public response.

Visit our Web site – – for more information regarding alarm management issues.

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