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: http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/. 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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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: http://www.siacinc.org.

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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 – http://www.airef.org) funded the project, another example of the ongoing help the organization provides our industry.

The guide will be located on http://www.ESAweb.org/MembersOnlyResourceCenter 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 Shannon.Murphy@ESAweb.org.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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 – http://www.siacinc.org – for more information regarding alarm management issues.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Solutions for Nuisance Alarm Activations in Public Buildings

The second in a three-part series from SIAC’s Ron Walters

Certainly the easiest solution to the issue of nuisance alarm activations in public buildings is not to exempt any category of occupancy from the provisions of the ordinance, but realistically this isn’t always going to happen. So what other solutions can be applied?

The first place to look for a solution may be in the alarm equipment.

Over 75% of all dispatches are due to user error. In locations where there are many users of the alarm system, being able to identify the person who created the dispatch can go a long way in educating these individual(s). Virtually all alarm equipment is capable of assigning multiple key codes. If this is combined with transmitting data to the monitoring point then we will know who created the problem and target them for training.

There are also issues regarding how many people actually need access after hours. Limiting access will also have a cumulative impact on reducing dispatches.

Additional steps can be taken to establish responsibility for alarm systems in public buildings. In Phoenix, the police identified those managers who had an alarm system as part of their sphere of responsibility. The police educated these individuals on the proper use of alarm systems. At that point all annual reviews of these individuals included the performance of the alarm systems.

Establishing responsibility for the performance of alarm systems is key to addressing the problem. In Gwinnett, County Georgia schools were exempted from the alarm ordinance and their performance was the worst of all occupancies in the county. The police met with Superintendent of schools, who provided them with cellular and home phone numbers of every school principal. These principals became the first contact on every alarm activation and within a few weeks the problems solved themselves.

Again in Phoenix, the alarm unit created an alarm school for “abusers” (those with multiple dispatches in any 12 month period) modeled after traffic schools. By attending the school, these individuals received a certificate that entitled them to one free pass from a fine. After 8 years, more than 90% of the attendees had not experienced another false dispatch.

For these occupancies the curriculum could easily be adapted to specifically educate users of systems in public buildings and in particular, schools.

Stayed tuned to SIAC’s blog for our conclusion next week.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Public Buildings and Curbing Unnecessary Alarm Activations

Part one in a three-part series from SIAC’s Ron Walters

For over a decade the alarm industry, working in concert with various law enforcement associations and law enforcement agencies, has identified the Best Practices that, when applied will deliver the highest reductions in dispatch requests for public response to alarm systems. Through this process we have also been able to identify issues that must be a part of any effective reduction effort or the maximum results will not be achieved.

While one might believe that there aren’t enough alarm systems in public buildings, the truth is this is simply not the case. Public dwellings have, and continue to be, one of the thorniest issues to address when it comes to reduce unwanted dispatches. This occurs for a variety of reasons. Statistically though, these buildings continue to have a disproportionate share of nuisance alarms.

When the City of New Britain, CT, for example, was proposing the cessation of response to alarm systems, they found that the largest abusers were actually government buildings. Following is some of the information provided to the City Council.

• “The Top “25” Locations-Police Alarms: “Over the past six years, police officers responded to 3,471 different buildings in the city for alarm activations. The top 25 of these locations represent just 7/10 of one percent of the total addresses, but reflect 12% of the service demand. This is disproportionate by any measure. More embarrassing is the fact that ten of these locations are city schools and more than half are governmental buildings.”

• “The Top “25” Locations-Fire: “Over the past six years, firefighters responded to 778 different buildings in the City for alarm activations. The top 25 of those locations represent just 7/10 of one percent of the total addresses in the city but reflect almost 36% of the service demand. Five of these locations (all city schools) also appear on the list of top ‘25’ locations for police alarms.”

The City of Aurora, CO adopted a policy of non-response to alarms, and exempted public buildings. After one year of enforcement they had reduced dispatches by 75%, meaning that governmental occupancies represented 25% of the call load while only representing .02% of the alarm sites in the city.

(Stay tuned for next week’s SIAC blog, when we address solutions for these facilities.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ron Walters Honored with Bill Moody Award

Last month at ESX in Nashville, SIAC was pleased to honor our own Ron Walters with the prestigious William Moody Award. The award is both deserved, and probably long overdue given he has been a SIAC team member for 16 years. Because Ron works so much behind the scenes, and doesn’t seek attention, his work often goes unnoticed.

But not to us, and not to many of the state associations he helps throughout the U.S., along with the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), Security Industry Association (SIA) and Canadian Security Association (CANASA). They know Ron, and his contributions over the years, and recognize how much he helps improve alarm management practices across North America in big and small ways.

One of the least noticed parts of Ron’s job is his diligent, consistent and high value work helping associations develop, implement and enforce strong standards. He also writes ordinances for jurisdictions across the country, maintaining consistency from city to city.

If you get a chance to hear Ron speak at a national association or your state association meeting on security issues, please take time to pull up a chair and listen. Ron sends a powerful engaging message to audiences, and works for all of us in the electronic security industry when he speaks out. He is always open to feedback, so feel free to seek him out afterwards to share your thoughts. We’re glad to have him at SIAC, working for us, but most importantly, working for you.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment