Central Station Update—“The big thing that is happening in software development right now is that central station software providers are starting to work on—or are already in the works of—implementing the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) project, which is going to somewhat revolutionize the central station business. The ASAP program is basically a partnership with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO) which allowed 9-1-1 centers and the CSAA to create a computer interface that works between them both. And this CSAA APCO project stemmed from full participation of The International Justice & Public Safety Network (NLETS). We’ve gone through great pains to make sure that this is a program that can be used by both small and large companies. The beauty of it is that it reaches down to every size dealer because in the end, they all need a central station somewhere to do the monitoring. We are marching into a 10-year project. But to do our very best to get the central station operators off the phone and keep them on the computer with the police and fire departments in the country is a project that is gaining steam as we speak. While the program is currently open only to CSAA members, we intend to open it up to non-CSAA members—other ETL- or UL-listed central stations—and get them involved as well. The NLETS program needs the state switches to cooperate in carrying our new message type into the state and so far we have gotten a positive thumbs-up to make the software modifications and the state switches for 23 states. And all of the changes that we are talking about have happened since June. There is more work to do. And one of the things that we are going to try to come up with is an idea for tools to make that job easier for the central station. Resisting change is going to be a bad strategy for a technology company which is really what central stations are already becoming. The alarm companies that don’t get it—that aren’t going to sell product capable of doing those things— are going to have a problem in the marketplace.—Ed Bonifas, past president, Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and president, Alarm Detection Systems (ADS).
To get involved in the initial phase of the program and be on the network in 2012, contact the CSAA by December 31st.
The Trump Card
“More often than not, we tend to look at the industry from a manufacturer’s perspective and talk about where the technology is going to take us. Clearly, with the pace of technology and IP advancements this plays an important role. However, I personally tend to look at the industry in terms of where the customer will take us. Allowing the customer to lead, doesn’t make a company a follower—rather it makes them a listener and one better qualified to satisfy the needs of customers because they have a deeper understanding of their pain points. One step that Protection 1 has taken to focus on this is through our “Your Voice” research. Select members of our senior management team, including myself, meet with customers and prospects alike asking a variety of scripted and free form questions to get to the problems and pain points faced by security buyers. For example, when dozens of National Account buyers were asked what they wanted in the “ultimate security provider” it was not a new technology solution they were looking for. Technology will continue to be a driver but not a differentiator in our industry. Where technology will matter in company performance is how they use it to provide tools that enable their employees to deliver on what resonates with the customer experience. For new entrants—as well as incumbents in the industry—the customer trumps whatever direction we may be inclined to set. And the o ne that can deliver outstanding delivery will grow in this space.”— Tim Whall, chief executive officer, Protection 1.