CAA calls for change in JOBS Act language

The California Alarm Association recently sent a letter to its members urging them to write their representatives in Congress to change proposed language in a bill that could have a negative impact on the industry.

In addition to reallocating the band of radio spectrum known as "D Block" to public safety agencies, the Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum Act of 2011 (JOBS Act) also includes a provision for the implementation of next generation 9-1-1 services. The problem, according to the CAA, is that current language in the bill could lead to a dramatic and unnecessary increase in alarm calls to 911 centers across the country.

According to the text of the bill, “The term 'emergency call' refers to any real-time communication with a public safety answering point or other emergency management or response agency, including – (A) through voice, text, or video and related data; and (B) nonhuman-initiated automatic event alerts, such as alarms, telematics, or sensor data, which may also include real-time voice, text, or video communications."

The CAA said that by adding the word "alarms," 911 centers could be flooded with automatically generated calls by intrusion detection systems, fire alarms and Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS).

"The alarm industry which currently screens these calls before they are forwarded to 9-1-1 centers knows from experience that the vast majority of these calls from burglar and fire alarm systems, as well as from PERS systems, do not require dispatch. Regarding PERS, the over-whelming majority of calls (99%) do not require the dispatch of emergency services. In many cases, the senior is seeking just to talk with someone. Currently the alarm industry screens all these calls before they are sent to the 9-1-1 operator to determine whether emergency services need to be dispatched. On an annual basis our industry screens over a 100 million calls. Of that, we can resolve in the high 90 percentile," wrote the CAA in its letter to lawmakers.

To prevent public safety agencies from responding to unnecessary calls, the CAA is urging Congress to adopt language that would require these alarms to be processed by an alarm monitoring central station first.