Monitoring of alarms has been around—well, since the beginning of the industry. But has it lost it pizzazz with mass-marketed alarms and self-monitoring via smartphones, iPads and other connectivity devices? Have we diluted our value proposition? Not if the industry continues to tell its story, educate the user and focus on partnerships between the police, sheriffs, insurance providers and alarm companies who understand the importance of being able to verify alarms in progress.
I’m not here to put down self-surveillance—i.e., looking in on the dog or protected premises while away, or fiddling with the temperature and such—but that’s not the real value the industry brings to the table and it’s not what you should be concentrating on in your sales efforts. The Cox Communications and AT&T’s of the world are focusing on self-surveillance and automation, but the industry can be head and shoulders above the rest if it takes the time to talk to its customers and prospects about the real value of professional central stations that receive alarms and react to them in an appropriate manner.
I had a chance to speak with video verification crusader Keith Jentoft, who said he was “continually surprised at how many people in the alarm business have never heard the real interaction between a central station and the 911 center.” He provided a link to a YouTube video that gives four actual examples of real events. The two video verified examples made an arrest. “The last example is what we are trying to prevent,” he said.
“This is what our business really looks like from the police side of things,” he said of the video. “We,as an industry, should be selling the customer video verification and professional alarm response versus self-surveillance. While convenient and entertaining, self-surveillance doesn’t deliver faster police response because it isolates the video from the central station. It is an impressive addition to building automation, not a monitored burglar alarm.”
So it’s our time to get the message out about the importance of central station dispatchers and the work they do and also, of alarms that can be verified. In the final clip of the YouTube video the authority says to the central station operator: “This doesn’t meet our criteria for response,” meaning that the municipality won’t respond to the alarm without the video (or perhaps audio) verification! The central station operator sounds a bit stunned on the phone. But this is the scenario that is happening increasingly around the country. If you are using a third-party central station, are you aware of these types of incidents? Maybe you will do a little investigating on your own now.
Jentoft, who is the executive director of the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response (PPVAR) and the president of RSI Video Technologies in Vadnais, Minn., said that the non-profit organization recently added Verisk Crime Analytics Vice President Anthony Canale to its board of directors. Jentoft said this is significant in that Verisk is the parent company of ISO (Insurance Services Organization). ISO is responsible for analyzing community risk mitigation for underwriters and this affects the insurance rates of every community in the U.S. This service is a determining factor in how much a community pays for property insurance based upon the risk assigned to the community by ISO.
“Our involvement with the PPVAR fits with the mission of Verisk Crime Analytics to use data and analytical tools to support public safety operations and to help our clients reduce the impact of crime,” said Anthony Canale. He added that Verisk owns and operates national crime databases that provide services to the construction, retail, transportation, manufacturing and insurance industries.