Ask the Security Alarm and Monitoring Expert

The Audio Link
Q:
Can an audio link to the premises via a keypad microphone/speaker and the dialogue with whomever is on premises immediately following a central station’s receipt of an alarm signal be substituted for the first call of the multiple call procedure defined in the CS-V-01 standard?

A: To refresh your memory, the Central Station Alarm Association’s (CSAA) CS-V-01 is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved standard entitled “Alarm Verification and Notification Procedures.” It covers techniques of reducing false dispatches of the authorities arising from false alarms.

I have devoted articles in the past to CS-V-01. The standard is available free of charge on www.CSAAUL.org under the “Standards” tab. You are encouraged to download it. If your central station is not correctly using this standard, I would strongly encourage you to adopt it.

As chair of the CSAA Standards Committee, I posed a question to the committee’s members as a Formal Interpretation (FI). (An FI is a question attempting to clarify a point of the standard. It is posed in such a way that it must be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”) The question I put to the committee regarding CS-V-01:

A central station is in voice communications with a premises using an audio link to the premises keypad(s).After the alarm data is sent and the audio link becomes available, if no audio is heard or if the correct password is not given by whoever is on premises, a telephone call is made by the central station operator to the next telephone number on the list, and so on. Can this first audio exchange be considered the first call under CS-V-01?

The answer was an overwhelming “yes.”

One fact that is perplexing is that central stations charge a customer extra for this audio link. Clearly, in a verification scenario, when a call is being made to the premises anyway, this audio link is a quicker way to reach the premises as a means of verifying the alarm.

I have nothing against added charges—there are costs involved when additional microphones and speakers are added to attain better audio coverage or when audio is used as a sensing means to listen for an intruder. I am merely suggesting that an audio link to the keypad or keypads can greatly speed up and simplify the first “call” attempt.

Remember that, in this scenario, the telephone line has been seized by the digital communicator and a call is already in process to the central station. The automation software will then make the call available to the operator via the central station’s telephone system. The identified operator would then ask for a password and proceed accordingly.

A controversial aspect of the audio link performed either by the method indicated here or with a regular telephone call is: what happens when a customer aborts the alarm? The convention is that the abort signal emanating from the control panel will again seize the line and transmit the abort signal to the central station. The audio link is dropped, even if the central station operator is in direct contact with an individual on premises.

There is no apparent short term remedy for this incongruous situation. The nature of how controls work with today’s technology simply leads to this state of affairs.

Louis T. Fiore is a consultant from Sparta, NJ. He is Past President of CSAA (1997-1999) and President of L.T. Fiore, Inc. His practice includes the use of wireless and the Internet for alarm monitoring, as well as regulatory issues for security systems in general. He also serves as Chairman of Central Station Alarm Association’s (CSAA) Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) and Standards Committee. He is the current chairman of the SIA’s Security Industry Standards Council (SISC) and a long-time member of the Supervising Station Committee of NFPA 72. Send your questions to Lou.Fiore@secdealer.com.

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