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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.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, December 18, 2008
I wrote a story last month that appeared on Security Systems News' newswire, and which will appear in our next issue. The story was about the Seattle Police pushing for compliance to the city's municipal code, part of which requires the use of enhanced call verification. In Seattle, beginning the first of the year, central stations will be required to make two verification calls to alarm owners to ensure the alarm is real as opposed to false. Just Tuesday (Dec. 16), I came across another story from the Star News online about the city of Elk River, Minn. recently adopting an ordinance requiring enhanced call verification as well. Police from both Seattle and Elk River point out that the new two-call-to-the-end-user requirement is part of a much needed false alarm reduction endeavor.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I saw this story this morning and was reminded that it's probably a good idea to always be on your best behavior, especially in a day and age when surveillance video solutions are becoming more and more widespread. Public building perimeters, private business perimeters, parking lots, street intersections, concerned private citizens... you never know when you'll be the unwitting star of captured video. I blogged last week on courtesy and how we could all benefit from a little more gratitude and a more polite approach, and now I guess I'm saying that maybe if we all acted on our best behavior at all times, acted as though we were being observed--whether by our ancestors, by God, by Karma, by surveillance infrastructure, or by a concerned tourist is up to you--maybe everyone would come out ahead.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, December 10, 2008
A recent press release from SIAC spotlighted the Colorado Springs Police Department for its instrumental role in developing an open to the public process for creating an agreed upon false alarm ordinance for city officials to vote on. The SIAC award, presented to the CSPD at the city's Dec. 9 city council meeting, recognizes the CSPD's foresight in establishing an open public meeting process that ensured all parties with an interest in the alarm ordinance had a forum in which to express opinion on issues of concern. The award emphasizes the importance of the initiative's community spirit, exemplified by the coming together of law enforcement, private citizenry and the security industry in a decision making process, the results of which affect everyone. In the release, SIAC representative Dave Simon said he saw the action of the CSPD as trend setting. Over the past five years, many communities across the United States have revised their ordinance. The Colorado Springs Police Department stands out for openly engaging its citizens and setting an example of grassroots democracy for other communities across the country. By involving all interested parties, the Department should be saluted for its leadership in developing a consensus alarm ordinance document that can be emulated in other cities. In the release, Colorado Springs mayor Lionel Rivera praised the joint efforts of all to produce a document that was universally fair and acceptable. Good public policy is a direct result of hard questioning that has our community's best interests at heart. The open public discussions of the ordinance hosted by the police department and council's public hearings have resulted in an ordinance that is fair to the alarm users, alarm industry and our Colorado Springs taxpayers.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, December 8, 2008
It struck me as a little odd this morning when I read that the Cordele, Ga. city commissioners had decided to add false alarm fines to alarm users' utility bills, and that failure to pay the false alarm fines would result in loss of utilities. An excerpt of the story, from the Cordele Dispatch, follows: CORDELE, Ga. According to the Cordele Dispatch, city commissioners here voted on Dec. 4 to adopt a new ordinance that will result in fees for excessive false alarms. The move comes from concerns that false alarms generated by alarm systems in city residences and businesses often lead to a misallocation of police manpower. Once the ordinance takes effect on January 1, 2009 alarm users will be allowed five false alarms for the year. Any false alarms past five will result in the user being charged a fine. The sixth and seventh false alarms will carry a $50 fine each. False alarms 8, 9 and 10 will result in a $100 fine for each. Alarm users will be fined $250 each for the 11th and 12th false alarm, and a $500 fine will follow 13 or more false alarms. Fines will be added to the utility bill of the user. Failure to pay fines will result in loss of utilities. The ordinance extends to churches and schools as well as residences and businesses. Alarms installed on motor vehicles, fire alarms, domestic violence alarm, or alarms designed to elicit a medical response are not covered by the ordinance. Users will be required to fill out an application and register their alarm systems through the Cordele Police Department and pay a registration fee of $10. Anyone failing to register an alarm system will be fined $100. Now keep in mind, I live and work in Maine, where right now it is a crisp 20 degrees out. It seems kind of scary to me that the city could take away my utilities, my heat, even though I've paid my obscene oil bill. Don't get me wrong, I know that the city needs to recoup losses due to excessive false alarms, and attempt to implement some sort of system to hopefully encourage people to make sure their systems work properly, but messing with people's water, electricity or heat seems a little over the top to me. Well, I guess that's one more reason to be sure your alarm systems are registered and in proper working order.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, December 5, 2008
Secure Global Solutions (SGS) just announced the installation of new alarm call monitoring software at Brinks Home Security Holdings, Inc. The software platform is called stages and is designed to improve speed of access to customer data by operators monitoring alarm signals. Approximately 1.3 million alarm accounts have been transferred to stages. I spoke with SGS senior vice president Hank Goldberg who assured me that stages would revolutionize the industry with its ease of use and interoperability. “The fundamental issues are, number one, it’s an advanced application that’s browser based. Which means that there’s only one application to maintain,” Goldberg said. “Most of the applications that have grown up in the industry are actually pieced together little bits of application and are difficult to maintain. So we have a much lower cost, which we reflect in a much lower price.” Goldberg would not go into specifics of pricing, but said that stages is “extremely cost-effective, not only to purchase but to maintain.” Despite the lower cost of ownership and maintenance, Goldberg insists that stages is not just another piece of software, but is instead a powerful new tool, allowing all user types to interact with one easy to use, Windows-like application. “It is exceptionally high-performance," Goldberg said. Look for the full story of stages' take off in the January issue of Security Systems News
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, December 5, 2008
The Central Station Alarm Association announced recently that it was moving to a new location for the New Year. The ever busy, but accommodating Celia T. Besore, director of marketing & communications at CSAA sent me a pic of the new space, which unfortunately, will not post here. The original release is included below. The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) will start the new year in a new, larger office near its current location. The new address will be 8150 Leesburg Pike, Suite 700, Vienna, VA 22182. Phone and fax information remain the same. "The workload of the Association and the increase in staff to continue to offer quality services necessitated the relocation to new offices," said Steve Doyle, Executive Vice President of CSAA. "In addition, we are excited that the move to the new building allowed us to get extra space to host the Central Station Industry Museum. Given the current real estate market, it was the right time to make the move." added Doyle. CSAA's headquarters have been at 440 Maple Avenue East in Vienna since 1997.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, December 3, 2008
In my recent endeavors to introduce myself to all of you I haven't yet met, and to say hello to those of you I have, and perhaps to discover that coveted bit of new and exciting news that no one else has, I found myself cold calling my way through my Rolodex.
I have been touched by the kindness, willingness to talk and courtesy with which I have widely been met. Annie Roderick of Wayne Alarm, for example talked to me for a while about SSN's new ssnTVnews section of our site (by the way, if you've got a camera, start generating some clips, and send them over to our fearless leader Sam Pfeifle). Andy Stadler also chatted with me for a piece about the goings on at Security Partnerss. Andy provided me with this pic of Security Partners' new central located in a refurbished railroad warehouse.
I thoroughly enjoyed my talk last week with G4S's Jerry Cordasco, who though I inadvertently called him on his cell phone during lunch, was nonetheless friendly, informative and, yes, courteous.
I had a wonderful, friendly conversation today with Mel Mahler, Tom Szell and Lela Mullins from ADS Security. We talked for a while about all the awards they won at the First Alert Professional Convention held from November 13 through 16 at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla.
Unfortunately, even though courtesy is a free, though priceless commodity, some people just fail to see the value of "please," "thank you," "you're welcome," or even "good bye" before hanging up on you. I've called San Antonio-based Dispatch Center, Inc. a couple times now, just to say hello and see what was going on. The first time, I got connected eventually to Stephen Harper, who was, at least, friendly. This time there was no Stephen available to let me down easy with a "nothing new going on." On both occasions, I have had the great misfortune to have to first deal with a guy named Ray. Today, after asking me, "What do you want?" he actually hung up on me as I was asking if Stephen had vociemail. And that was, unfortunately, before I could tell him to "have a nice day." So, have a nice day, Ray.
Now, I'm sure that we're all very busy and far too important to talk to the press, but are we really reduced to grunting out aggravated questions like imperatives? Is it really necessary to hang up on people, Ray?
My point is that courtesy is free, and earns you the admiration and respect of your peers, including the press who report upon you. Doesn't that make the worth of courtesy incalculable?
Just a thought. I welcome comments.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, November 14, 2008
I had a chance to go to the last day of the CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar on Nov. 11 at the Boston Marriott Peabody in Peabody, Mass. It was nice to meet so many of you upon whom I report, and to get a chance to learn a little more about the industry and its concerns. The opening segment on day three, a talk about liability issues and how to avoid sticky situations, was delivered with a little fire and brimstone by Jeffrey Zwirn, president of IDS Research. Pictured above is Zwirn speaking to about 75 attendees at the morning's opening session. Around midday, attendees were bussed out to Wayne Alarm Security Systems, Inc. in nearby Lynn, Mass., for a tour of the Wayne Alarm facility. Wayne Alarm founder and president Ralph Sevinor was on hand to start the tour off right with a stop by a table laden with fresh fruit, doughnuts, cookies and other pastries, bottled water, coffee, and soda before visiting the station's Antique Corner. Sevinor, showing off his extensive, pristine collection of all things security, obviously has a passion for the security industry. Of Wayne Alarm, Morgan Hertel of The Command Center, Inc., said "That guy's got the greatest museum in the industry. Nice clean facility. It was a nice tour." Pictured above is Hertel setting up for his talk, the last of the day before the closing Open Forum. Overall, attendees seemed pleased at what they found at the CSAA's Fall Ops Seminar. Loretta DiVincenzo of Cleveland, Ohio-based Gillmore Security Systems (in the video clip below) was especially impressed with the sense of camaraderie and honesty that seemed to pervade the weekend's sessions, as potential competitors came together to discuss and perhaps help each other solve common problems. video CSAA education committee co-chair Pam Petrow, chief operating officer at Vector Security would have made Phil Donahue proud, roving from one corner of the banquet room to the other to provide her microphone to each and every attendee who desired to speak and contribute. There was no constricting format, and some of the topics discussed were absent/tardy policies, and the enforcement thereof, as well as creative interviewing/hiring practices, and where to go to find staff when you were starting a new central from scratch. Pictured at the right is Pam Petrow and her microphone facilitating discussion.