See SIA and Honeywell in New York City

See the Security Industry Association (SIA) and Honeywell Security & Fire in New York City October 25-26. Where? At “Securing New Ground” (SNG) during the ISC East annual conference. SIA and Honeywell are two of SIAC’s biggest and long-term contributors. We cannot do what we do without their help. We encourage all attendees to stop in to see them while in NYC, and let them know you appreciate their support of our causes.


Both ISC East and West are signature security industry events. Beyond hearing about new technology and networking with colleagues, sessions revolve around key industry standards and policy issues facing us in the years ahead. To stay abreast of these trends, and use them to your advantage while running your business, being onsite is the best way to go.


Top industry executives and chief security officers gather annually at SNG. We’ve found over the years that new trends are spotlighted as well. Yes, there will be awards and great New York City food as well.


You can access the ISC site for SNG by clicking here. If you are a SIA member, your registration is significantly reduced. You can click here to go through the SIA web site.

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“Progress” can be a loaded word. One person’s definition of “progress” might be another’s definition of “failure.” At SIAC, we’re continually focused on improving alarm management practices – for the security industry, so law enforcement can do its job more easily and to help communities protect their citizens in the most efficient way possible.   That’s progress for the three pillars consistently engaged in dealing with alarm system issues in local jurisdictions.


That’s not the only way we define progress. We track the decline in inadvertent alarm activations. For example, if a city is seeing 12,000 dispatches per year for 10,000 systems, when we get our model ordinance enacted with good enforcement, we’d expect to see a drop down to 9,000 or less dispatches within the first year.  That’s demonstrable results – progress.


SIAC purposefully is conservative in the estimates we make and provide to law enforcement. We don’t want to make promises we can’t keep. Instead, we want to demonstrate what can be done based on numbers that show progress in communities that implement the best practices we advocate for.


We’re not perfect, and the model we use to assist law enforcement and local governments is not going to provide the exact same results from town to town or city to city. But for the most part, when we show reductions in those unwanted alarm activations, we can comfortably predict that with similar provisions, and strong implementation and enforcement, that other communities will see similar results.


As advocates for the alarm industry, it’s important that we provide conservative estimates to our law enforcement partners. That’s critical for our credibility, and the trust necessary for “progress” to continue reducing unnecessary alarm activations in the years ahead.

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Machine Learning Algorithms for Alarm Management?

A machine learning algorithm to improve alarm management? Gadzooks, what will they think of next? But Johnson Controls (JCI) has developed the product, and is marketing it.

Here’s the story: JCI is marketing a false alarm reduction service that applies machine learning algorithms to intrusion alarm panel data. It provides end-use customers with insights to prioritize actions that are said to vastly reduce preventable nuisance alarms.

machine learning

To train its algorithms and confirm their accuracy, the company utilizes a massive amount of closed loop data. They took five years-worth of that data from the 757,000 panels they have in the field. A customer beta-testing phase followed. That lasted a year-and-a-half, then bore results that JCI says can give end users data-driven recommendations to reduce 50-70 percent of their false alarms.

This is good stuff. At SIAC, we’re excited about the possibility of such algorithms when properly applied taking us to the next level of alarm dispatch reduction. That’s excellent and we applaud these steps.

Great job JCI! Kudos for digging in and finding ways to deliver alarm services while helping to improve alarm management practices.

SIAC also fully supports JCI’s next steps as it rolls out the solution to a limited number of businesses. It’s a Cloud-based, software-as-a-service offering. Physical deployment isn’t necessary. The software system should work with any panel vendor. That’s important, and also an excellent feature to ensure penetration in the security industry.

We’re fascinated to see this hitting the market, and looking forward to see how it is adopted and utilized by others. The success will occur when we see high utilization rates. A great reason to be optimistic about the future!

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False Alarms Decrease in Greenville County, SC after New Ordinance

False alarms decreased in Greenville County, SC, after a new alarm ordinance was enacted. Hmmmm, should we be surprised? Not here at SIAC. We expect that. When proper provisions are put in place and sensibly enforced, good things happen. We see that time and again.

The Greenville County Council looked at the impact of an ordinance they passed in September of 2017, which imposed stricter fines on habitual false alarm offenders. The Sheriff’s Office started enforcing the ordinance in January. Since then, they say they’ve seen a decrease in the number of false alarms, according to news reports.


Here are the provisions put into effect by the county: After two (2) false alarms within a calendar year, all additional false alarms during the calendar year shall be considered a violation of this article and shall be deemed a civil infraction and the alarm system user shall be subject to the following fines:(1) 3-5 False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $50 per occurrence;(2) 6 and 7 False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $100 per occurrence;(3) 8 and 9 False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $250 per occurrence, and(4) 10 or more False Alarms within the calendar year shall be punishable by a fine of $500 per occurrence.


Since the new ordinance has been in effect, the worst offender went from having nearly 130 false alarms in a year to none.


“Our goal was to correct the false alarm problem,” Council Member Lynn Ballard said.  It seems to be working. From the first six months of 2017 compared to the first six months of 2018, the number of false alarms in the county decreased by nearly 500, ultimately improving public safety.


Ballard says since the ordinance has passed no residential customers have been fined for false alarms, only businesses. Security companies say they’ve also implemented a two-call confirmation (ECV) process which has also played a role in decreasing the number of false alarms, according to the news report.


This is why we do what we do at SIAC. Share good information. Work with local officials. Tailor a program to fit their resources. If done with commitment, ordinances work effectively and everyone wins.

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Create the Right Business Climate

To run a successful electronic security company requires owners and leaders to push a lot of the right buttons. One under-stated quality is building and maintaining a positive business climate. What does that mean?


Simply put, you have talented people in the right positions and they work to sell and install your technology effectively and in a way that employees support each other and your customer base. But, as any business owner recognizes, those words are easier said than done.


With many recent articles in the media about the difficulty in hiring and retaining quality individuals (and we’ve seen our share of those stories in the security industry year after year), it becomes even more important to stick to that simple model noted above so you recruit talent and keep it. This all starts with the leader or owner. Your actions are watched. Employees pay attention. They take their lead from you.

What you say and do impacts how your people go about their jobs. This is tremendously important when you throw additional business-related issues into the equation, like alarm management. An alarm management program at your company will be successful if the owner commits to it, verbalizes its importance and acts on that by delivering the right tools and information to the team so they can do good work in the field.


Set the tone. Make sure your sales and tech teams know about local alarm requirements. Share information from SIAC on permitting programs, the model ordinance and two-call verification. These are good selling tools when working with customers, and armed with our quality materials, you’ll build a better business environment for your employees to succeed and serve your customers better.

Check out our SIAC web site. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll find the information you need.

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Alarm Detection Systems in Aurora, IL Wins PDQ for Second Time

Alarm Detection Systems in Aurora, IL won the Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award for the second time. They were honored at ESX in Nashville, TN last month.


We’ve known the Bonifas family for a long time. They’ve run Alarm Detection Systems responsibly and with a total commitment to the causes that SIAC is committed to: exemplary alarm management practices. In particular, Bob Bonifas has stepped forward repeatedly over the years to help the security industry raise standards when it comes to reducing unnecessary dispatches to alarm signals.


So, while his company is now the second to win the award twice, it doesn’t come as surprise. We almost expect this type of effort from the company, its employees and the practices they employ. Their enterprise is professional at all times, and we salute them for that.


This year’s recipient has shown has been a leader in dispatch reduction efforts for over two decades. They were one of the very first companies to appoint a staff position to review the previous day’s dispatches, call customers, determine corrective actions required and apply the necessary resources to resolve the issue.


SIAC thanks co-sponsors Honeywell for their annual $1,000 contribution to the PDQ winner and Security Sales and Integration magazine and their editor Scott Goldfine as media sponsor.


Established jointly in 2005 by the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA) and SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION, and now also officially endorsed by the Installation Quality (IQ) program and sponsored by Honeywell.

The Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award program targets the alarm management issue by recognizing those installing and monitoring companies that follow established industry practices and partner with law enforcement to achieve the highest quality in minimizing police dispatch requests.

Companies are judged not only on their alarm rate, but also their training, literature, use of industry-recommended practices like Enhanced Call Confirmation, daily follow-up with customers, tracking problem accounts and more. Additionally, a police department must be supportive of the award submission and submit a letter confirming the alarm rate and acceptability of the applicant. Applications are scored by independent judges in 15 different areas.

The goal of the PDQ program is to raise industry-wide awareness, motivate alarm companies to be proactive and provide models that work for others to follow. SIAC congratulates Alarm Detection Systems of Aurora, IL!

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Louisiana Bill Prohibits Customer Fines to Companies

The state of Louisiana passed House Bill 653 introduced by Representative Simon and signed by the Governor May 30 that prohibits customer fines from being assessed to security companies. The provisions are under Section 1664.16 C and can be found on SIAC’s State Activity Report. We urge you to check it out.


There are many reasons we’d like you to look at and consider this legislation. One of the bigger issues we’ve addressed the past 2-3 years in our service to the security industry is the issue of local municipalities passing ordinances that charge alarm fines to the companies. That type of ordinance is akin to fining the car companies when a motorist speeds.


We have fought hard at the local level for years on this issue. It’s tremendously heartening to see a STATE taking it up and passing legislation that prevents local alarm ordinances from including provisions that would fine security companies for their customers’ false alarm.  Here is the specific language to look for in the bill on page 11 highlighted in yellow on SIAC’s State Activity Report:


“… Security firms and its employees and security monitoring firms shall not be              subject to or liable for civil penalties and fines assessed or imposed by a municipality or parish for false alarms.”


Pretty simple. If you live in a state where this is a concern, take this language to your state legislator and see if you can work something out along similar lines. Change does not occur in a vacuum. To fix problems, action must be taken. In the case of fining security companies, SIAC is on the forefront of fighting to eliminate those provisions in local laws.


This legislation is an extremely important step forward for our industry. Please share this message with others so the information gains a wider audience. With your help, we can get ahead of this issue on a statewide level.

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