Finally, Walters said equipment intelligence has also helped decrease false alarms. For example, a signal might require multiple disarm codes and operators know who is associated with the disarm code. And that too may help in the fight against false dispatches. “So not only do we have the alarm but we have the information to target the problem user and we can have a conversation with this person or business to help reduce false dispatches further,” he said. “All this allows us to do our jobs better.”
Manufacturers have played a huge role in developing and strengthening technologies to make intrusion detection products more robust. DSC, part of the Security Products business unit of Tyco introduced earlier this year the PowerSeries Neo hybrid intrusion detection platform.
Designed to cut operational costs for dealers and provide reliability for end users, PowerSeries Neo platform delivers secure, reliable communications channels along with innovative alarm verification solutions. The PowerSeries Neo platform is also primed to reduce the incremental costs of false alarms by employing regionally compliant alarm verification solutions such as visual verification, two-way audio and sequential detection, while also offering additional RMR opportunities to dealers, according to Vicki Sword, senior product manager, DSC Commercial Systems, Concord, Can.
“This is the single biggest product development in the history of the company,” Sword said. “Neo uses frequency hopping spread spectrum for adaptive signal strength and has five to eight years battery life. It addresses the issue of false alarms with three levels of alarm verification: sequential detection; audio over cellular; and visual verification in which a series of still images is sent to the central monitoring station for verification,” she said. Remote diagnostics features also allow the installing company to check and verify the ongoing health of the system.
Mobile video applications
For central station alarm companies, having reliable products for customers is critical. In the residential community, new technologies have added a layer of false dispatch protection. According to Pam Petrow, president and chief executive officer of Vector Security in Warrendale, Pa., one of the biggest changes in technology has been the use of mobile applications that allow customers to become more aware of what’s happening in their homes/businesses so they can make better decisions on when responding agencies are truly needed.
“Residential customers are very willing to embrace cameras and the pricing of this technology is now affordable,” Petrow said. “With this intersection we have seen an increase in residential camera installations that are becoming more important in our false dispatch prevention efforts. As we do our verification calls on these homes, the customers are reporting that they know what or who caused the alarm, preventing a dispatch. Commercially, with mobile access, contacts are able to view cameras and identify authorized personnel, again preventing unnecessary dispatches.”
Vector is also deploying locks that when disengaged also turn off the alarm system. They can be operated remotely to let in housekeepers, relatives, dog sitters, etc. and they don’t have to know how to use the alarm system so it prevents false alarms. Customers can then remotely lock the doors and arm the system when they leave. “This is another great reduction to false dispatches caused by people who are unfamiliar with alarm systems or only use them occasionally.”
While Petrow agreed that there has definitely been an improvement in technology for motion detectors, she reiterates that the industry cannot become complacent. “Technology can’t replace good training for sales and installation personnel so they install devices in the appropriate environments,” she said. She added that the risk of some of the “package offerings” is that they are installed regardless of the environment so the customer ends up either not using the complete system or they have false dispatch problems which negatively impact the customer experience.