Congratulations! The security alarm industry deserves a pat on the back for advancements in alarm systems, particularly intrusion detection, that continue to make solutions more reliable and stable.
It hasn’t been easy. Early intrusion detection motion detectors, shock sensors and other devices were prone to erratic signaling from the environment and other sources. But thanks to continuing manufacturer innovation in technology, batteries, connectivity and more—systems are more stable than ever. And of course the industry has done a stellar job in educating response personnel and users in proper system application.
Our job is not done. False dispatches still exist. And the debate over what constitutes a false dispatch continues. Was it an intruder trying to gain access that got away before anyone noticed or responding authorities made it to the premises? Or was it user error that set system signaling in motion? Most likely, today, it’s the latter—and here again the industry deserves kudos for its efforts in training users.
Some 15 percent of users are causing the majority of false dispatches by not using the system properly, according to Ron Walters, director with the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC). SIAC, led by Stan Martin, executive director of the Frisco-Texas based organization—has been instrumental in developing standards, best practices and educating the industry, law enforcement, responding professionals and others on how to effectively use alarm systems.
Walters, who is based in Pembroke Pines, Fla., said that a couple decades ago, the number one cause of false dispatches was equipment failure or misapplication of equipment. By the 1990s, equipment was becoming more reliable and robust and today, the incidence of equipment failure has become “minuscule.” Of course, not applying the correct product in a specification may also be a problem but today, there’s no excuse. Alarm professionals can get high-end motion detectors and other sensors for a reasonable price.
“Equipment and controls have become so reliable,” said Walters, “that virtually no true professional in the industry will scrimp on technology.” Walters pointed to other equipment innovation, such as pet alleys that can be set to detect and ignore the thermal mass of a dog that enters its field of view without causing an alarm; dual-action panic or duress buttons that require two-button activation; video that verifies an event at the protected premises; and control panels that require multiple signals to activate alarms.
User training and education critical
SIAC, which is comprised of the Canadian Alarm and Security Association (CANASA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and the Electronic Security Association (ESA) focuses on its primary mission to significantly reduce calls for service while strengthening the lines of communication with law enforcement professionals and end users. As new technology emerges SIAC is at the forefront of helping develop standards and policies with its partners in the law enforcement community. One of the standards of the organization is ANSI/SIA CP-01-2010-Revised. The standard details design features for security system control panels to reduce false alarms in residential and commercial properties. It covers event recognition and information handling sequences, as well as provisions for system layout testing. Other SIAC standards include: enhanced call verification; acoustic glassbreak sensors; monitoring operations and procedures; and passive infrared motion detector technology.
“Video is a great way to address commercial alarms and multiple users,” Walters continued. “It provides reliable evidence into what might be going on at the protected premises. Video has the potential to provide an actual picture of the level of the threat at the alarm site.”