PPVAR, SIAC talk verified alarm standards

Guidelines needed to govern how central stations and PSAPs interact during a dispatch
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

LAS VEGAS—It’s little wonder that the topic of verified alarms tends to spark dialogue between those in law enforcement and the alarm space. Intended to reduce false dispatches while increasing apprehensions, verified alarms—and the policies that guide them—are of critical importance to both groups, and continue to shape the relationship between them.

And, given the ongoing conversation about standards for verified alarms, there’s still much to be said on the topic.

That’s one reason the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response, the Security Industry Alarm Coalition and personnel from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department came together at a recent Nevada Security Association meeting, held here, to share ideas about verification technology.

Steve Walker, vice president of PPVAR, said hearing about priority response procedures from PSAP personnel in Las Vegas, a so-called non-response city, was especially illuminating.

A key question, Walker told Security Systems News is “what the alarm industry can do to report information about a verified alarm that would help the PSAP to very quickly recognize that it was a verified alarm and proceed accordingly.”

Walker, who is also VP of Stanley Convergent Security Solutions, said both PPVAR and SIAC sought clarity on the scripting and process involved with verification dispatch and how alarms are prioritized. They also discussed the role of enhanced call verification, which both groups agreed is an important step within the response procedure, Walker noted.

What also became resoundingly clear, Walker said, was that the more information PSAPs have at their disposal, the more effectively law enforcement can carry out a response. From the PSAP point of view, time is truly of the essence.

“One of the distinctions I thought was really meaningful was the importance [PSAPs] place on real-time versus recorded,” he said. “In this case, the PSAP is saying we need to know, is the info being recorded? Is it in real-time or are we dealing with something recorded five, ten minutes ago?”

Providing an accurate timeline for video footage is vital to the mission of responding law enforcement, who now know “how actionable the data is,” according to Walker. That law enforcement interest dovetails with PPVAR’s own quest to promote audio and video technology that gives officers a clearer picture of what’s taking place, and when, on a given premise.

Stan Martin, executive director of SIAC, believes it’s always cause for optimism when the industry can engage effectively with a non-response city. Also heartening is the Las Vegas Police Department’s stance that it’s open to receiving video, and can provide faster response when live video shows a crime in progress.

But Martin cautioned that there are details to be sorted out to determine how video is screened before being served to the PSAP. Clarification on these finer points may come about through PPVAR’s standards, he said.

“It’s important that we’re able to screen video to some guidelines or standards so we don’t compromise this opportunity to do a good job for police departments,” Martin said, adding that if the new standards process is done right, it will result in a win-win for everyone involved.

Guidelines are essential to widespread implementation of verified alarms because they’ll help monitoring centers “screen video and present what they find to police departments in a consistent way that they understand,” Martin said. “I think we’re on the path to doing it right.”

Larry Folsom, who is president of the Nevada Security Association, in addition to being president of American Video and Security and president and founder of I-View Now, said the meeting made clear that a consensus is building on verified alarms. Responsible for that momentum, he said, is an increased willingness in the alarm industry to listen to law enforcement’s needs and adapt accordingly. Folsom also pointed out that the industry and the Las Vegas PSAP personnel were in agreement about the importance of running ECV against video.

Delineating how law enforcement and monitoring centers should engage during an alarm event are key questions now, he said.

“What do we say? How do we interact? We’re used to calling in a [legacy] alarm, but this is verified, whether audio or video,” Folsom said. “So the interesting thing for me, and the next step with municipalities and law enforcement, is how we ensure that we’ve given all the information they want, and police have what they need in order to get the bad guy.”

Folsom believes new standards will go a long way in establishing how central stations and PSAPs interact during a dispatch. Fostering continued dialogue between law enforcement and the alarm industry, he said, will also be critical to the success of the standards.

“The more of this we do as an industry, the better our guidelines will be,” Folsom said.