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by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, January 26, 2009
Following up on a Security Systems News story I wrote back in November, The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International announced today (Jan. 26) the approval of an American National Standard to provide a standard data exchange for the electronic transmission of information between alarm monitoring companies and public safety answering points. Called the External Alarm Interface Information Exchange program, the new ANS was approved on Jan. 15 and is now an accepted standard and should, according to Pam Petrow of Vector Security be a boon to the industry. "I think it creates a great opportunity for the alarm industry and should be very cost-effective for the 911 industry to implement,” Petrow said back in Novemeber when the program was entering the ANSI standards testing process. The new ANS can be downloaded here.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, January 23, 2009
ATLANTA—Atlanta's City Council hopes to collect $3 million from people who have multiple false alarms at their homes or businesses. The 15-person council voted unanimously Thursday, Jan. 22 on a proposal that increases fines and simplifies the penalty process regarding fire and burglar alarms. “The Atlanta Police Department supports the legislation on false alarms which will reduce the number of false alarm calls generated,” said Deputy Chief George Turner of the Atlanta Police Department in a statement. “This will create additional manpower hours to respond to the present call volume and increase police visibility in the Atlanta communities.” While Atlanta has had false alarm penalties in place for a while, it has not collected any fine revenue since 2005. According to the proposed ordinance, a project of Councilmember Anne Fauver, Atlanta had $4.4 million in issued, but uncollected false alarm fines in 2002. From 2000-2004 Atlanta saw revenues of only $1.5 million in collected fines. The reason for the drop off in collected fines? Fauver claims the ordinance was too difficult to enforce and that police stopped giving citations. Fauver believes the new ordinance will help the city out of its current budget hole. “The City’s emergency personnel need to be available for valid alarms and for their primary purpose of protecting our citizens,” said Fauver in a release. The ordinance gives a free pass for the first false alarm, but after that, penalties escalate from $100 for the second false alarm to $1000 for any false alarms over six in a calendar year. Under the ordinance, citations would be enforced like traffic tickets through the city's municipal court, and would allow for appeals. The legislation will go into effect upon approval by the mayor.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, January 22, 2009
Sonitec Corp. on Jan. 20 announced it had become a SafetyCare Authorized Partner and would soon begin the roll-out of SafetyLink, the company’s new personal emergency response system. I spoke with SafetyCare general manager Mike Bodnar last year on the growth coming in the PERS industry. SafetyLink customers in metropolitan New York will have the benefit of access to a 24-hour-a-day safety and security system at the push of a button. Unlike other PERS systems, the owner of a SafetyLink system gains instant two-way voice contact with a certified emergency medical technician at the National SafetyCare Response Center, based in Reading, Pa. Leslie Lief, president of Sonitec Corp., believes the partnership with SafetyCare will benefit end users and Sonitec dealers immensely. “We've chosen to make a strategic and substantial investment in the SafetyCare product,” Lief said in a statement. Lief also said that a comprehensive website and a sales staff are being dedicated to SafetyLink now. Bodnar said Sonitec brought a strong industry reputation as well as a 33-year record of service in the New York area to the table. “We're pleased that Sonitec recognizes the unique product offerings at SafetyCare, as we work to steadily revamp and improve the security industry in this country,” Bodnar said in a release. Sonitec is the most recent addition to a growing stable of security companies taking advantage of the growing PERS industry through the SafetyCare Authorized Partner Program. Other recent Authorized Partners include LifeCall, LLC, Independent Living Solutions, and Eastern Distributing, among others. Pictured below are SafetyCare general manager Mike Bodnar (left) and Leslie Lief, president of Sonitec (right). [caption id="attachment_1661" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="SafetCare general manager Mike Bodnar and Sonitec president Leslie Lief"]SafetCare general manager Mike Bodnar and Sonitec president Leslie Lief[/caption]
by: Daniel Gelinas - Saturday, January 17, 2009
I just got this news alert in my inbox. Entertainingly accurate, if somewhat journalistically-questionable transcription aside, it's a pretty cool testament to the power of having your premises protected by video monitoring. It's nice to see the security industry doing it right, helping people out, being a powerful tool to help police stop the bad guys, and reducing false alarms. Keep up the good work guys!
by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, January 13, 2009
According to a recent release from iControl, ADT Security Services, a provider of electronic security systems, on Jan. 9 announced a partnership with iControl Networks that will allow ADT to offer its customers a new interactive services solution. The agreement incorporates iControl's next-generation platform, which iControl refers to as Home Security 2.0, into ADT's monitoring network to provide ADT home and business customers with life safety, lifestyle and productivity service enhancements. "ADT customers will soon be able to remotely control their security systems and much more," said Don Boerema, ADT's chief marketing officer in the release. "In an office, while on vacation or from virtually anywhere in the world where there's access to the Internet, users can conveniently manage their homes or businesses, saving time and money." ADT's personalized solution will integrate security, energy and lighting control, live video, event-driven video clips, pictures and a host of other functions. Through an easy-to-use, personalized Web site or a Web-enabled mobile phone or PDA, ADT customers will have remote control and access of their expanded ADT security system. The new solution will be easily upgradeable to many of ADT's four million-plus customers and millions of other potential clients throughout North America. ADT will provide home and business control management through a state-of-the-art Web-based platform that supports a variety of technologies including Z-Wave. With several companies providing customer solutions through Z-Wave and other wireless protocols, ADT customers will be able to arm and disarm their security system, lock and unlock doors, control heating and air conditioning, turn lights on or off, help provide home health protection for the elderly and disabled, remotely view live video, event-driven video clips and pictures, receive text messages and e-mail notifications when events occur.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, January 6, 2009
The City of Chicago recently (I heard about a notice being posted on the city's website on Dec. 30) and quietly enacted some radical changes to their False Burglar Alarm program. These quiet and sudden changes have been meeting with some resistance. Chuck Mishoulam, owner/president of Chicago-based Alert Protective Services, Inc., said the changes are not only sudden, but extreme. “It’s pretty radical … We’re all a bit taken aback by it,” Mishoulam said. “It’s a big deal. People make mistakes, and come in and can create a false alarm—an employee, an owner, or whatever the case might be—and I think having the three free passes before was just a better way to do business … You know there’s a human factor involved here. It’s not just an equipment thing … so people have to have the ability to have some wiggle room to make a mistake. So the three free ones gave people enough warning to know `I’ve only got three of these things, so I should be careful.’ But you hit somebody with a $100 fine and an administrative hearing and that all takes time for people.” This is one way to assure that people maintain and test their alarm system, I guess.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, December 31, 2008
As many of you know, one of the big problems faced by everyone involved in selling, installing, monitoring, owning and responding to security systems is false alarms. I produce a regular column for every issue of SSN called False Alarm Ordinance Watch in which various new false alarm ordinances from around the country are highlighted. This morning I came across a column from that discussed the new ordinance in Yukon, Okla. It's fun and lighthearted and has a few funny ideas for how to spend your freebie false alarms... At first I was taken aback, because false alarms are a serious problem that cost taxpayers and communities time, resources and money, and the industry itself, in terms of bad PR. However, the idea of spending your freebie falses, and not wanting to "waste your free false alarms," to quote the column, got me thinking. In tough economic times, maybe responsible security and fire alarm system owners who don't use, or "spend," their own freebie falses should start a market in which they sell their unused freebie credits to those less fortunate... Hmmmm... You know, similar to how companies can buy and sell tax credits, and pollution credits. I think the creation of such a False Alarm Credit Exchange would help reduce the number of false alarms drastically since it would operate on a system of positive reinforcement, rewarding people for operating properly rather than punishing them for operating falsely... Such a system could even begin to take on characteristics of a real economy with false credits from areas that have a rampant false alarm problem being valued and traded more highly than communities that don't have much of a false alarm problem, thus producing a living and changing false alarm credit exchange rate... Just an idea... I welcome your comments. Or a piece of the action if you choose to implement this idea ;-)
by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, December 23, 2008
My Photo Daniel Gelinas Raymond, ME, United States I am a journalist who enjoys writing short science fiction and literary fiction. I also enjoy reading, acting and spending time with my son. I began my editing career as an intern at children's book publisher Charlesbridge Publishing in Watertown, Mass. From there I moved into trade publications at Nielsen Media in Boston, working as a newswire editor at Nielsen's Entertainment News Wire. And no, even though I worked in entertainment journalism, I've never met anyone more famous than the guy doing backstage security at a Tori Amos concert. I now cover the Monitoring beat at SSN. Please feel free to email me with comments.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, December 23, 2008
In news from, San Angelo Security's Central Monitoring Station, a division of Texana Security, LLC, has received "Five Diamond" certification from the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA). The company has been providing security services in San Angelo and the surrounding communities since 1961. "Five Diamond" certification is awarded only to central monitoring stations approved by Underwriters Laboratories and requires every monitoring operator to complete specific training courses, which can be demoed for free. According to the CSAA, less than 4 percent of central monitoring stations have received the certification.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, December 19, 2008
The CSAA announced in late November that yet another central station had achieved Five Diamond Certification. Commercial Instruments & Alarm Systems, Inc. of Fishkill, N.Y. earned the certification by putting 100% of their central station operators through the CSAA's Central Station On-Line Operator Training Course. The training courses cover virtually all phases of central station communications with customers, law enforcement, fire and emergency services communications centers. In order to achieve Five Diamond Certification each and every operator must have not only passed the course, but demonstrated: proficiency in alarm verification, which helps reduce false alarms; proficiency in communications with public service answering points, such as 911 and other emergency responders; knowledge of electronic communications equipment, including radio; an understanding of the codes and standards of such organizations as Underwriters Laboratories, the National Fire Protection Association and others; as well as proficiency in the area of emergency preparedness under a wide scenario of possibilities. There are approximately 2,700 central stations in the United States, which communicate and interact with the law enforcement, fire and emergency service agencies. Of this group, fewer than 100 centrals have achieved Five Diamond status. Intrigued by this training offering from the CSAA, I decided to check it out and am in the process of undergoing the Central Station Operator Level One online course now. The training is administered by the CMOOR Group. CMOOR principle Chris Moorhead spent some time on the phone with me and made sure I was ready to go. Interested central station managers can check out the offerings and demo the course for free.