Home Automation: Boom or Challenge?

The growth in the home automation market benefits the security industry. More installations mean growth for the businesses that manufacture, sell, install and service security systems. At the same time, additional growth presents challenges if companies entering the home automation market come from outside the security space.

Multiple speakers at two recent industry events – ISC West and the Consumer Electronics Show – spoke about the continued growth of home automation, including the newer technologies and how to tie security systems to home automation. The equipment and how to safely and successfully integrate the different systems will continue to evolve in the years ahead.

It’s important to remember that security is about Life Safety for our customers. Other devices are mostly for convenience or lifestyle improvement. Focusing first on home automation means that is the first responsibility of those companies, not the features professional security companies primarily focus on.

While security professionals can add home automation features to an installation, it is more complex for home automation companies to add security features. Regardless, enhanced expertise is necessary to install and service extra features properly and address the burden and seriousness of integrating the components successfully.

At SIAC, we pay particular attention to proper installation and maintenance of alarm systems, along with high quality monitoring practices and training (for employees and customers, when it comes to properly operating their alarm system). Wrapped up in this is the big challenge the security industry faces – continuing to build on our progress in improving alarm manage practices that past decade.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Written Word on Alarms

There are many ways here at SIAC that we share information with interested parties on alarm management practices. Writing on key issues is probably the least known of the services we provide free of charge, but in many ways it gets the word out the most effectively. This type of outreach is featured in publications for law enforcement and the security industry alike. Our staff, including Glen Mowrey, Ron Walters, Steve Keefer, Jon Sargent and Tom Sweeney, contribute to these publications and are always looking for opportunities to help.

If you live in the Northeast, for example, you will soon be able to see a piece Tom wrote, which has been submitted to the New England Association of Chiefs of Police. The article, titled, “Reducing Alarm Dispatches,” is to be displayed on their website along with the model ordinance and the SIAC alarm management video (http://www.neacop.org/).

Glen, and his work on alarm management committees, was recently featured in the Winter edition of the International Association of Security and Investigative Regulators. We have recently placed articles for the Electronic Security Association’s (http://www.esaweb.org/?) “Security Nation” quarterly publication, and with Honeywell on its blog. The goal of our writing is to keep others informed, share best practices, and continue improving our industry’s efforts when it comes to alarm installations and service.

If you have an article you want written for your association newsletter or for an organization that deals with issues where we can provide you expertise and experience, please let us know. Contact information is on SIAC’s website (http://www.siacinc.org/). We have great writers, a wealth of knowledge and desire to help, so please get in touch.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SIA Education and Public-Private Partnership Panel Featured at ISC West

There are a lot of reasons to attend ISC West in Las Vegas. Catching up on the newest security technologies, educational sessions and networking are but three benefits of attending.

Another area that SIAC believes is worthwhile are the training sessions offered by the Security Industry Association (SIA). If you are looking to catch up on updated training, a lot can be accomplished at ISC West.

SIA’s educational programs include over 75 sessions. The programs offer:

• Sessions which qualify for credit through ASIS, ALOA, NICET and more.
• 3 full days of intensive education labeled by level, so you’re sure to find what you need.
• More sessions and new tracks.

Developing Successful Public – Private Partnerships – Special Panel at ISC West

Every day, law enforcement is tasked to do more with less. Recently, public-private partnerships have shown great success in extending the reach of law enforcement, leveraging the private sector in developing crime prevention and problem solving initiatives.

SIAC has been a leader, working with the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s (IACP), State Association of Chiefs of Police (SACOP), and leadership in several states to establish Alarm Management Committees.

Join us at ISC West for a practical discussion, led by SIAC, on public-private partnerships and hear directly from panelists who have had success in this arena. Panelists include:

Moderator: Glen Mowrey, Deputy Chief (Retired), Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) Police Department; National Law Enforcement Liaison, Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC)

-Stacey Cotton, Chief of Police, Covington Geoorgia Police Department, Past President Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police

-Doug Bassett, Senior Director, Xfinity Home Security at Comcast

-Bob Neely, Executive Director, Alarm Association of Florida

-Briane Grey, Director of Corporate Security, City National Bank; Chair, ASIS Law Enforcement Liaison Council

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wichita Seeking Input on Alarms through Social Media

We recently read in the news that the Wichita, KS is looking for public feedback on how to reduce unnecessary dispatches for both burglar and fire alarms. What’s interesting to see is how Wichita is going about this.

They are going to the internet and Facebook, posting a survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CW5GBDD), and seeking public feedback. It’s a novel use of social media, and one that SIAC full supports (https://www.facebook.com/cityofwichita).

The earlier information is shared and opportunities are created for open public input, the stronger a final decision will be. Because more views are vetted during this process, the final adopted solution is one that should be supported by local citizens

Another interesting and supportive point about what Wichita is doing is the fact that they are creating a transparent process. The information is out in the open for all to see. People will certainly disagree on specifics. But through open discussion, more and better options should emerge that benefit city.

Contrast that openness with the example of Akron, OH, where a decision was made without any discussion or citizen input, and you can understand why so much angst has arisen in that community.

Social media is an important trend that can help cities and towns involve their citizens in key decisions. SIAC supports every means of communicating to citizens and keeping issues on alarms and alarm response out in the public for input and debate – they are the primary stakeholders and we applaud efforts to receive their input (and not make unilateral decisions with policy changes on a service most consider as essential to public safety).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monitored Account Leap Means Responsibilities for New Entrants

Monitored accounts for alarm systems increased dramatically in 2013. With that increase comes a need for an industry-wide commitment to best practices that include two-call verification (ECV- Enhanced Call Verification) and sustained, high quality training for operators. We plan to do our part at SIAC by continuing to provide the type of information and education useful to monitoring centers, particularly the newer entrants to the security field.

According to a survey led by Barnes Associates, a consulting and advisory firm specializing in the security alarm industry, the wholesale monitoring segment rose 19.4% in 2013. The survey was co-sponsored by Security Systems News and the Central Station Alarm Association. That increase in the number of monitored accounts means there are a lot of new systems in place that need to be properly maintained.

Over the past five years, growth has been in a range from less than one percent to 11%, according to Security Systems News, which reported on the story (http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/article/barnes-associates-wholesale-monitoring-survey-finds-accounts-19-percent). As the story suggests, and SIAC agrees, the influx of cable/telecom companies into the security field has likely fueled much of this growth.

That means these newer entrants must also shoulder their share of the burden to ensure monitoring is done effectively. Whether you are new to the industry or have been around for many years, monitoring calls properly is hugely important to reducing unnecessary alarm dispatches. Driving those calls down to negligible numbers requires a strong commitment from the newer companies, coupled with the commitment of those companies who have been around longer. Whichever category you fall into, SIAC is here to help (http://www.siacinc.org/).

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Failure to Maintain Alarm Equipment Penalizes Everyone

Failure to maintain alarm equipment penalizes everyone – the local jurisdiction, the owner of the system and the security company that services the home or business of the alarm system. Faulty operating equipment leads to false alarms.

Auburn, WA Police Chief Bill Pierson recently pointed this out in a news article. The city has been able to reduce alarm dispatch calls by 63% since 2008. One of the reasons is no free false calls are allowed. Penalties begin on the first infraction. The chief supported this, and pointed out in the news article that keeping the number of freebies at zero saved the city operational costs.

One of the bigger points Chief Pierson made in the article was that individuals plead they had a faulty operating alarm system. They argue the bad system caused the inadvertent alarm signal to be sent. The chief saw it differently: Some individuals use it as an excuse to get out of the fine, and if a free alarm dispatch was allowed, his jurisdiction would begin to hear that excuse too frequently.

Sometimes we’re asked why does SIAC support only one , two or even no free responses? The answer is simple: We understand that the vast majority of these dispatches are due to user error. The fewer free responses, the more likely the user is to take remedial action. This is particularly true of systems that need maintenance or equipment replacement. Supporting aggressive ordinance provisions is a much better choice than watching these agencies go down the path of ceasing response to all systems.

The goal is to always keep driving down those nuisance alarms. Auburn has done an excellent job because it has a strong ordinance and enforces it. An important part of keeping the number of alarm dispatches down is to ensure equipment operates the way it was meant to. Security companies should revisit customers periodically to check on the system, answer customer questions and see if any updating of technology makes sense. It’s a good business visit to make, and provides benefits for the customer and local jurisdiction, too.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Technicians and Smart Devices

Many security companies now send their technicians into the field with iPads, laptops or smart phones downloaded with critical data. Several years ago that was not the case. That’s a positive change for our industry.

Improving communications allows technicians to place systems in “maintenance mode” while servicing a customer to reduce unnecessary alarm dispatches due to on-site testing. These devices can also bring up a customer’s history, allowing the technician to analyze signals to determine potential equipment issues or point to additional user training requirements.

Additionally, on-site technicians can show the customer stored “call-lists” to see if information is current, possibly having them sign-off on accuracy so central stations have good numbers to call, a critical requirement for ECV (2-call) verification success.

The advancement of technology is certainly one of the drivers of this trend. At the same time, leading companies adopt these new information-delivering devices because it makes business sense: Their technicians get data when and where they need it, and this improves their ability to properly install alarm systems. The customer is happier and the alarm system operates the way it is supposed to.

Getting information on the run like this is part of our world today. We’re all accessing documents, accounts, emails or reports when we are away from our main offices. Putting handheld devices into the hands of your technicians makes sense.

It gives your technicians the ability to manage their time more effectively, address customer questions more quickly and thoroughly, and prepares the technician to troubleshoot on the go. At SIAC, we believe this is a healthy trend for our industry, and encourage companies to explore the ability to provide these enhanced tools to your employees. They will help you leverage your time, and your employees leverage their time with your customers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment