Use the Alarm Factor to Better Measure Progress


One of the biggest issues we face in the electronic security industry when it comes to measuring success (or failure) of alarm management practices is figuring a way to measure that success. Over the years, we’ve fought an uphill battle, letting statistics be used against our industry, putting us in an unfavorable light, and often not accurately portraying how much progress is being made.

For the past five years, SIAC has advocated using the Alarm Factor as a measuring stick to determine if a community or a company is doing better from one year to the next in terms of reducing unwanted alarms. Stated simply, the alarm factor is determined by dividing the total number of actual alarm dispatches by the total number of alarm permits. This “Alarm Factor” or “Alarm Dispatch Rate” can also be used to reasonably compare one agency to another or against a national base rate. The rate gives an accurate assessment of how things used to be, and helps give an independent assessment of how that compares to today. The lower the factor over time, the greater the improvement.

IACP-PSLC recommends the use of the Alarm Factor or Rate over time for measuring and comparing the relative success of these alarm management practices as concluded by the University of North Carolina in Charlotte (UNCC). The study completed in May 2010 has determined that the most accurate and effective method of measuring the success of alarm management programs is with the use of the “Alarm Factor” over time.

As improved techniques are implemented more widely across North America on multiple fronts, we’ve seen the alarm factor drop from about 2.8 (for commercial and residential systems combined) to its current level of 0.85 What does that mean? That means nationally the average number of alarm responses per system is less than once per year.

If you break out residential by itself the factor goes down to 0.25 or one dispatch every four years. During that same period of time, we have more than DOUBLED the number of alarm systems installed from 17 million to over 36 million! That’s a tremendous accomplishment from 10-15 years ago, and speaks volumes about the positive steps that committed companies have made in our industry in conjunction with local officials. It’s working, and law enforcement is continuing to respond – Let’s keep those numbers moving downward!

If you’d like more information on the study, go to: http://www.airef.org.

About justwrite15

Dave's column has run in multiple small town newspapers across the U.S., in Nebraska, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas,where Dave has been able to entice personal friends and editors to run his social commentary. His column has also been picked up by www.coastalmonroe.com. It has appeared in newspapers since 1998, and began in response to one of the school shootings so depressingly familiar in America. His commentary has morphed into a weekly offering of humor, insights and advice on how to find sanity in an insane world.
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