TLA anxiety redux (or, Wow, the security industry sure does like (or hate?) acronyms, part 2)

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10/06/2011

I read through Ken Kirschenbaum's security industry newsletter dated 10/4 with interest the other day. As most of you know, I've written about the worlds of central station monitoring, PERS, and false alarm reduction and ordinances for a while. It's easy for me to forget that not everyone--even people in the indusry--is familiar with some of the acronyms and terminology commonly used in the security industry. I'm no stranger to the confusion that can come from not knowing the references others are using. On my first day here at SSN in 2008, I realized I was going to be in trouble with all the three-letter acronomyms (and four-letter, and five-letter, and etc.) so I asked for help and got it from Celia Besore, who forwarded on to me a listing of Security Industry Acronyms pulled from CSAA's membership directory (page 65 of the 2008-2009 directory). All I had to do was ask. It's there as a resource. I just checked that list and it's interesting to note that ECV isn't on there... language is a growing, living thing and as intelligent animals we're blessed with the ability to ask questions.

It struck me as a little funny that there were some commenting in Ken's newsletter that they didn't know what "ECV" (used in an earlier posting in the newsletter from SIAC (oops, I did it myself... used an acronym without explaining what it means... SIAC is the Security Industry Alarm Coalition) director Ron Walters) meant, and further seemed to lack any sort of idea as to how to find out.

From the newsletter:


Hi Ken, I had to chuckle about Mr. Barlow's posting below. The reason for the chuckle is simple: I have no idea what "ECV" is either. So, I "Googled it" and low and behold it is a medical term acronym for turning a breach baby around. Wow, not sure how that applies in our business so I tried harder and added "security" to the Google search and came up with "Enhanced Call Verification". Now that made more sense.
I agree with Mr. Barlow; spell out the thought and ensure what we write is clear, especially in emails! I have heard that those that use acronyms are attempting to show they are smarter than others!
Thank you for your continued value to the industry!


Mark Ingram

President


Visonic, Inc

I've written about some of Mark's ventures before, and he's on the right track here, I think. If I don't understand something, I look. I ask a question of someone I think might have the answer. I don't necessarily assume someone who uses an acronym is trying to look smarter than others... I think that maybe it's a sign of someone striving for economy in language... Either way, the Internet's a pretty great resource and the security industry's associaions are there to help you learn and grow.

Again, from the newsletter:


Dear Ken:
 I know that you are committed to keep this forum fresh and relevant. I truly appreciate the time and space you have already dedicated to this issue and I ask that you post this one last reply.
 My apologies to both Tony Barlow and Lee Jones for not being more specific. ECV is Enhanced Call Verification and is a process that requires that at least two calls to two different phone numbers be made in an attempt to verify intrusion signals. ECV does not apply to any manually activated signal such as a hold up or panic, nor does it apply to fire. It is an approved American National Standard Institute (ANSI) standard. ANSI has no connection to our industry. They are an independent standards approval body. To have an ANSI Standard there must be an approved standards body that frets out the entire process under ANSI's supervision. In the case of ECV that was the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA). CSAA wrote the standard, opened it for public comment and were required to address all comments prior to submitting to ANSI for final approval. In this case the final document is ANSI/ CSAA-CS-V-01-xxxx. You can download the document for free by following [this] link ...  An important note is that you do not have to even be associated with the industry to comment on a pending standard that is open for comment and all comments must be addressed and replies sent as to the support or dismissal of all comments.


.

When law enforcement, under the International Association of Chief's of Police Private Sector Liaison Committee (IACP, PSLC), tasked the industry to find a solution(s) to the high incidence of user initiated false dispatches a series of tests were performed. First several central stations would take all unverified alarms during a random period of time and, prior to dispatching, call the premise phone number a second time. In 25% of the cases the second call was answered and no dispatch was required.


Next we sought to find out why the first call was not answered and the overwhelming cause was the call waiting feature on the premise line, the same line being used for the alarm to communicate on. The alarm goes off, the monitoring station receives the signal and attempts to verify. When the operator calls the premise they hear the phone ringing but in actuality the panel still has line seizure so anyone on site hears nothing and leaves. This can be addressed when programing the alarm panel.


When programming the receiver line first use the call waiting disabling prefix, usually *70. Now when the operator attempts to verify and the line is still seized the hear a busy signal and attempt to call again prior to dispatch. If you do this then you must also program the second receiver number into the panel without using the *70 prefix in the case that the call waiting feature is ever canceled.  If you are not comfortable with this then you MUST use ECV and the second call should be to a cellular number.


After proving the concept of ECV as being viable there needed to be a larger test. In Boulder Colorado the City had repealed their unenforced alarm ordinance in preparation to going to a non response policy. The Chief graciously allowed a period of time to test the process and in just 45 days dispatches were down over 30%. In the next 18 months with no other action being taken those reductions rose to over 60%. All that was needed to reach this level was that the Chief issued a policy and when an attempt was made to dispatch the caller was asked if at least two calls were made and to what numbers?


It is important to note that the second call to a second number is not an attempt to ask the alarm user to guess what is happening at the alarm site. In all cases where there results in no dispatch you will be reaching someone who is either still at the alarm site, has just left the alarm site or who knows exactly why the alarm is going off. If there is any doubt then a dispatch should be made.  This addresses Mr Jones in his statement that it can not be enforced. Enforcement is really simple and only requires a few months of asking if two calls were made.Once the monitoring stations know that a jurisdiction requires ECV they comply.

Even today with all of the acquisitions and mergers somewhere close to half of all monitored alarms are in the hands of small local company's. Unfortunately only 10% of these belong to an industry association. If this weren't dad enough, most don't read industry publications every month so a large percentage is in the dark as to what is happening legislatively in the industry. I would be remiss if I didn't encourage you join your state association and at least one of the national associations. These the Electronic Security Association (ESA) the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), the Security Industry Association (SIA) and the Canadian Security Association (CANASA). Links to all of these are available at www.siacinc.org.


I would welcome anyone wanting more information on this and other related legislative initiatives to contact me at ronw@siacinc.or or call me at 954-347-4883.


Thank you all for your interest.


Ron Walters, Director


Security Industry Alarm Coalition

I've spoken with Ron at length in the past. He's a dedicated guy who obviously wants to help people understand and learn and grow.

I also like this following bit of commentary from Mark Matlock over at UCC. I've also spoken with Mark before and have followed his organization closely.

regarding Lee's comments


Neither Ron Walters or SIAC or any other industry source to my knowledge have touted Enhanced Call Verification (“ECV”) as “the ultimate false alarm solution” .  Rather, we in the alarm industry realize that ECV is a very important piece of the overall puzzle in addressing the important issue of false alarm dispatch reduction.  I will add that it is a very effective piece.  Our wholesale alarm monitoring company, United Central Control, adopted ECV across the board and we have reduced police dispatches for burglar alarms by close to 35%.  I would say that this is a significant accomplishment by anyone’s definition.


Is ECV the “end all, be all” solution to false alarms?  Of course not, but it does show diligence on behalf of the alarm industry to assist the police departments nationwide in reducing calls for service related to burglar alarms.  I applaud SIAC and many other Alarm Associations who are resolute in addressing this issue.  I don’t know the source of your pessimism, but your words tend to mitigate the hard work and significant accomplishments of the alarm industry and its affiliated Associations for the last ten plus years.  We have made huge strides in working with the police departments and reducing calls for service related to false alarms.  The statistics in major markets nationwide bear out that calls for service from burglar alarms have been significantly reduced while alarm installations continue to rise.

Good job alarm industry.


Mark Matlock


United Central Control, Inc.


Regardless of whether or not you agree with ECV, one must admit that the resources to succesfully translate a three-letter acronym are out there for anyone who's genuinely intersted in finding out, as I would assume someone involved in the industry would be.

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