Habitec cuts police dispatches 20 percent with ECV
TOLEDO, Ohio—One month after implementing two-call verification for incoming alarms, Habitec Security reported a 20 percent decrease in false police dispatches and is on track to cut the rate even further, according to company President John Smythe.
Habitec, based here, made the move to two-call verification in March to handle its 16,000 accounts, split roughly 60/40 between residential and commercial. Smythe said the initiative made an immediate impact and that the company is improving its dispatch record as it updates its data sheets.
"We had a 20 percent reduction in the first month we rolled it out," he told Security Systems News on April 30. "I did a partial month [assessment] about 10 days ago and it looked like we were on pace to knock another 10 percent off. As we get used to the process and our customers do, I think we should be right around a 30 percent reduction in false dispatches."
Two-call verification, also known as enhanced call verification, has been championed by the Security Industry Alarm Coalition as a way to assist public safety agencies, protect alarm customers and reduce the workload at central stations. Smythe said all of those factors weighed into Habitec's decision to implement the practice.
"It was an internal move," he said. "With the [declining] resources of the police departments, we were just trying to help them in any way we can."
Smythe said Habitec’s customers, 80 percent of whom are located in northwestern Ohio, have embraced ECV. The company has an office and a central station in Toledo, with branch offices in Delaware, Ohio and St. Charlevoix, Mich.
"We sent a letter to all of our customers letting them know that this was our new policy and that they could opt out," he said. "Very few people did opt out, so 99 percent of our customer base now has two-call verification."
While the practice requires more work up front for Habitec and its dispatchers when handling alarms, ultimately it will save the company time and money, Smythe said.
"We have to update everyone's emergency keyholder sheets, which is a process, so given all the data entry it is a little bit more work," he said. "But going forward we think it's going to be less work, because we're not going to dispatch the police on 30 percent of the alarms that we've eliminated. You had to call them back and cancel the dispatch, so in the long run we actually think it will reduce some of our call processing."
Smythe said Habitec officials met with the Toledo Police Department a couple of weeks after the program was initiated and "they seemed pretty excited about it." He also said there's no reason why the company can't reduce its false dispatches further.
"It's only been two months," he said. "We have 16,000 customers, so as those are all updated and we stay on top of that better, more progress will be made. I've seen a lot of reports [about ECV elsewhere] and a year into it they have a 50 or 60 percent reduction. It could happen."