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Central station transformation

The IoT is pushing central monitoring stations to become more sophisticated. It requires significant investment in technology, development and staff to stay competitive

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—The Internet of Things culture, where everything is connected, is changing the way people interact and the way business is transacted.

New positions at ADS, Rapid Response

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Updated Feb. 13, 2015

Alarm Detection Systems, based in Aurora, Ill., sought to strengthen its executive team by promoting six people to new roles. And today, as I write this, Rapid Response is looking to fill 70 or more positions for its headquarters in Syracuse N.Y.

As I’m looking over the current events of the industry, growth has been quite the theme, and these are companies that are growing by notable proportions.

At ADS, Amy Becker will become VP and Controller; Nick Bonifas, Corporate Counsel; Ken Mish, VP of Alarm Service and Call Center Operations; Peggy Raper, Call Center Manager; Rick Raper, VP of Central Station Services, Mark Schramm, VP and CIO.

“The alarm industry has changed more in the last five years than in the previous fifty. We need the talent, dedication and intelligence of every employee for ADS to remain the leading provider of security services. Fortunately, we have a committed staff that is up to the task,” said Bob Bonifas, ADS founder and CEO in a prepared statement.

Rapid Response is holding a career fair today to find candidates for openings, most of which are new positions, related to the company’s growth.

Read more on this development with ADS and the reason for this executive expansion

Rapid Response to hire 70

Syracuse company to host career fair

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Rapid Response Monitoring, based here, hosted a career fair at the Destiny USA mall, also here, on Jan. 14, to hire candidates for more than 70 openings. The company planned to hold first-round interviews with applicants at the event.

Rapid Response hires new people has 'record year'

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

While searching for what’s new out there, I noticed that a Syracuse publication posted online that Rapid Response Monitoring hired 11 new people.

Upon following up with Christopher Denniston, marketing and communications manager for Rapid Response Monitoring, he stated that 2014 was a year of record growth for Rapid Response—the best year in its history.

“More dealers have chosen to transition to Rapid than ever before and our dealers have also experienced positive organic growth,” Denniston told Security Systems News in an email interview.

“Our people are our greatest asset and our dealer and account growth requires an increase in staff. Our hiring criteria are extremely stringent. We hire only four percent of applicants—the best of the best,” he said.

Rapid Response hired Dustin S. Jesmer, Lishay M. Mack, Carlos M. Valle Wemett, Connor J. Brown, Emily K. Buss, Steve L. Delgado, Amanda S. Lewis, David J. Martin and Aglaeth M. Vazquez as control center specialists. Cathryn M. Mahoney and Olivia N. Nobile were hired as accounting assistants.

Denniston listed further examples of this growth; “Our fully redundant monitoring center in California will have a grand opening in Q1 of 2015 and our headquarters' facility is undergoing an expansion bringing it from 40,000 square feet to 75,000 square feet.”

ASAP getting closer to reaching ‘critical mass’

Central stations stepping up to speed alarm notifications to PSAPs

YARMOUTH, Maine—After big strides in 2012 that put an array of technical and logistical challenges behind it, the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol is getting closer to reaching “critical mass” nationwide, according to ASAP proponent Ed Bonifas.

Riders on the storm: Central stations take Sandy in stride

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The snowy remnants of Hurricane Sandy are still blowing across the ridges of West Virginia, but the worst is over for the Eastern Seaboard. Now the recovery begins. And as is the case with any natural disaster, preparation holds the key to the extent of the difficulties ahead.

The lesson—one that’s often learned the hard way—is that it pays to do your homework and have a backup plan in place. The monitoring industry prides itself on that, of course, a fact that was validated by a quick SSN survey of central stations in the Northeast after the storm. It showed that while Sandy packed a tremendous punch, the industry was ready to handle it.

Long Island, N.Y., was one of the areas hit hardest by the storm, with thousands of homes damaged and nearly 1 million customers left without power Monday night. Andy Lowitt, vice president of dealer relations for Hicksville-based Metrodial, said via email Tuesday that despite the horrific damage in the area, the central station weathered the storm.

“Lots of downed trees and power lines … 912,000 [on Long Island] without power today versus 934,000 this morning, so tons of customers with beeping keypads, smokes and carbons,” Lowitt wrote. “Our natural-gas generator powered our central from 3 p.m. yesterday until power was restored today around 2 p.m. We had some valiant efforts of operators making it in during the day yesterday. Most PDs and some FDs stopped responding during the overnight hours and at one point we had over 3,000 signals in queue.”

New Jersey was also pounded by Sandy, but COPS Monitoring in Williamstown was prepared and took it all in stride, according to Executive Vice President Don Maden.

“In short, we proactively re-routed a percentage of alarm traffic away from N.J. to other sites, and significantly increased staffing at our other four central station locations,” he wrote in an email Tuesday. “We had 100 percent uptime in N.J. with services, did not lose power, and handled nearly double the normal alarm traffic across our network of central stations yesterday. Today, as expected, was heavy with alarm activity as well. [Generators] kicked on due to a few power flickers, but the grid stayed up.”

Don Piston, vice president of sales and marketing for Dynamark Monitoring in Hagerstown, Md., also reported heavy alarm volume but said “we knew that was coming.”

“We did great. We got battered with AC power loss and low battery signals because of all the power outages, so the traffic was just huge,” he told SSN on Wednesday morning. “But we sailed right through. We had the staffing in place. It’s almost no news because we did everything we were supposed to do.”

Despite Sandy’s mammoth strength and reach, it didn’t cause a lot of damage in Syracuse, N.Y.—just 250 miles from New York City and the home of Rapid Response Monitoring. Morgan Hertel, vice president of operations, said Wednesday that at the height of the storm, “we were getting pizzas delivered by the local pizza place. [Sandy] really wasn’t a big deal. It was like business as usual.”

That might have been the case meteorologically, but it wasn’t the case when it came to alarm traffic. At the peak, “we were seeing well over 100 signals a second coming in,” Hertel said, adding that Rapid is well versed in storm preparation and had extra staffing in place.

“We’re back to normal shifts today,” he said. “The technology did what it was supposed to do, the people did what they were supposed to do, and quite honestly we couldn’t be happier with the result. We even saved a few lives along the way.”

New threat to RMR? Sizing up PhantomLink

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The headline on the news release is an attention-grabber: “PhantomLink technology pushes alarm monitoring to the cloud, threatens industry.” If that isn’t clear enough, the subhead rephrases it: “Cloud-based technology set to undermine traditional alarm monitoring industry.”

The PR piece from Phantom Data Services proceeds to trumpet the company’s new PhantomLink project, which encourages homeowners to monitor their own security systems for no charge via the Web. The project “leverages existing equipment, requires only a simple retrofit, and is offered for free with no recurring costs.”

“Nearly 80 percent of households in the U.S. have Internet access,” states Adam Peters, founder of “So why are people still paying their hard-earned money to a central station to monitor their alarm? Just connect it to the Internet and monitor it yourself!”

The news release describes PhantomLink as a small, easy-to-install, build-it-yourself device that links an existing security system to the user’s wireless Internet connection. If the device senses an alarm, company servers alert the user with an email or a text message. Circuit schematics, interface specifications and instructions for using the “self-monitored security system solution” are available for free on PhantomLink’s Web page.

“Do-it-yourself alarm installers and electronics hobbyists are encouraged to participate in this project to develop and expand the capabilities of this technology,” the company states.

Visitors to the PhantomLink website will find all of the information mentioned in the news release, but little about the company promoting the device. Phantom Data Services is described only as “a New Mexico limited liability company specializing in website development and data-processing products and services.”

So is this the new age of monitoring? Is it time to mothball the central station and say goodbye to RMR? Will homeowners tired of “simply paying for piece of mind,” as the news release states, now opt for self-service?

Grammatical glitches aside, peace of mind is what many alarm customers are seeking. Millions have shown the willingness to pay a professional for it, even in a down economy. Do-it-yourself security will obviously appeal to some, but free doesn’t mean free of responsibility.

This also isn’t the first time the alarm industry has been down this path, said Morgan Hertel, vice president of operations for Rapid Response.

“This kind of stuff has been around for years,” Hertel told Security Systems News. “In the ’70s, it was tape dialers calling neighbors, work numbers and sometimes police departments. In the ’80s, we moved to pagers—you could get paged on alarms. Now we have email, SMS and IVR.”

While there is always something new coming down the pike, the bottom line remains the same for alarm companies: provide professional service at a competitive price and chances are you’ll stay in business. PhantomLink and other do-it-yourself offerings are unlikely to change that.

“The professional monitoring and installation companies are still here doing their thing,” Hertel said. “What most [customers] come to realize is that the cost of a monitored security system is so affordable these days, and is packed with so many features, that most people who take security seriously don’t ever consider [a DIY] solution.”

New VP looks to expand Mace CS’ footprint nationwide

Michael Joseph now overseeing California central

ANAHEIM, Calif.—Mace Central Station has seen its share of change in the past three years, including the acquisition of CSSS, a shift in CEOs and the recent departure of Morgan Hertel as vice president and general manager. As Hertel’s successor, Michael Joseph sees an opportunity and a challenge: instill continuity in the company’s operations and leverage the Mace name to expand nationwide.

Sizing up the competition

Go small for better service and big for better pricing? It’s not always that easy when comparing central stations

“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
That pearl of wisdom from baseball legend Satchel Paige could very well be applied to the world of wholesale alarm monitoring. The competition is fierce and getting fiercer, raising the stakes for central stations of all sizes. Dissatisfaction over real or perceived problems can prompt a dealer to jump ship, costing a company a chunk of RMR and maybe even a bit of its reputation.

Rapid’s expansion plans reach east and west

Company moving ahead with headquarters project, new central station

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Double-digit growth at Rapid Response is fueling a two-pronged expansion strategy, with plans proceeding for a new central station in the western United States and $11.3 million of new construction proposed at the company’s headquarters here.