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Alarm industry keeping pace with PERS

 - 
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

With baby boomers reaching age 65 and more of the elderly population living independently, personal emergency response systems have become the safety net of choice for millions of Americans. While central stations have been dealing with PERS for a few years now, the stakes are rising and the game keeps changing—think of GPS and two-way voice from a pendant. Technology has come a long way from “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” and training and procedures must keep pace.

The developments haven’t been lost on the Central Station Alarm Association. It has been working on establishing a standard for PERS technology and monitoring through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is in the final stages of the process, Executive VP Stephen Doyle says in the latest edition of CSAA Dispatch.

“The CSAA board recognized that education and training on PERS would be needed if there is to be long-term credibility in the marketplace and with the AHJs,” he writes.

Few would disagree, but technology doesn’t sleep and people don’t always see eye to eye on where it is taking us. Looking farther down the road, who will serve as the gatekeeper for issues that emerge as PERS devices evolve beyond where they are today?

“With the formal promulgation of the … PERS standard and the training of PERS monitoring operators in the probable near future, it seems as though the time has come to consider forming a PERS Council,” Doyle says.

The council’s role would be to “help shape issues” specific to the interests of its members pertaining to PERS monitoring. Doyle said that the mission would be a natural for the CSAA.

“With the growth of the aging population, PERS monitoring and dispatch will become an increasing issue for the AHJs and the PSAPs,” Doyle says. “And who better to deal with the issues attendant to this technology than CSAA—as we have done very successfully with public safety entities for so many years.”

Council membership and other details are likely to be discussed at the CSAA’s midyear board meeting at ESX on June 25, according to Doyle.

Last call for ESX discounts: It’s not too late to get the early-bird discount for ESX Nashville. The deadline has been extended for one week, with lower registration rates available until Friday (June 8). To cash in, go to www.esxweb.com/register.

Jensby out at Monitronics; Simon moves on to Brink's

 - 
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mary Jensby, a well-known contributor to the alarm industry who served as central station and data entry director for Monitronics, is no longer with the company.

In a LinkedIn update posted on Monday, Jensby expressed thanks to all of her professional contacts for their "friendship and kindness… (I) appreciate all of your support in the loss of my job. … It has been my pleasure working with many of you through the ASAP project, FARA, TBFAA, NTTA and CSAA."

Jensby came aboard at Monitronics in June 2007. She previously worked for T-Mobile and MCI WorldCom, according to her LinkedIn profile. In March, she was named the recipient of the 2012 Humanitarian Award from Mission 500 for her volunteer work in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She received the award during a presentation at ISC West in Las Vegas.

Megan Weadock, communications specialist for Monitronics, said that Jensby's departure was announced on May 8. Weadock said the company was looking for a replacement "both internally and externally." No other details were announced.

Melissa Courville, head of marketing and communications for Dice Corp., served as co-chairwoman with Jensby on the CSAA's ASAP Outreach Committee. Monitronics is one of three alarm companies currently participating in the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol, along with Vector Security and UCC. Courville said the CSAA is evaluating who will fill Jensby's seat on the panel.

"Mary did a professional job of delegation where she was very organized and kept her information together, beyond being a sheer joy to work with," Courville said.

Ed Bonifas, co-chairman of the ASAP Program Committee, said Jensby "has been a great contributor to the ASAP Outreach Committee as well as a participant in the beta phase of the program. … (She) will undoubtedly land in another central station, carrying her knowledge to another participant."

Jensby could not be reached for comment, but said on her LinkedIn post that she hoped to be able to find another position in the security industry.

Simon moves on to Brink's: In another shift of industry personnel, David Simon has stepped down as SIAC's public relations chairman after being named the marketing communications manager at Brink's Inc. Simon said he will continue to contribute to SIAC, "blogging, posting to the website and Twittering, along with occasional other writing." Simon also served as the industry/law enforcement liaison for SIAC.

Opinions wanted: It's not too late to let the CSAA know where you stand on the future of the industry. The group is asking members to take a few minutes to fill out the "Emerging Trends in Security Monitoring" survey, which aims to determine where the industry is heading in areas including video monitoring and PERS. To participate, go to www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22EUM64F659. The deadline is Friday, May 25. Those who respond will receive an executive summary of the report.

Key piece of ASAP puzzle now in place

 - 
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The CSAA has taken the next step toward bringing more participants into the fold with the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol by going "live" with a computerized message broker in Arizona.

The server at the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (Nlets) in Phoenix serves as a scrubber for transmissions being forwarded from monitoring companies to public safety answering points. It checks for errors and ensures that the information is properly formatted before sending it to the appropriate state control point and PSAP.

The Central Station Alarm Association reported that Vector Security and the 911 center for the city of Richmond, Va., switched to the message broker in mid-April. The move was seamless for the end users at Vector and at Richmond's PSAP, according to Bill Hobgood, project manager for the city's Public Safety Team.

Anita Ostrowski, Vector's VP for central stations, told the CSAA that operators at Vector required only very brief, informal training before the move was made to the server at Nlets.

Vector, UCC and Monitronics are the three alarm companies currently participating in ASAP, which speeds alarm notifications by providing information to 911 centers via computer instead of a phone call. Three municipalities are involved in the pilot program: Richmond, Houston, and York County, Va.

Ed Bonifas, vice president of Alarm Detection Systems and co-chairman of the CSAA's ASAP Steering Committee, told an audience at ISC West that Tempe, Ariz., was the next city signed up for the protocol. And there is plenty of industry interest: The CSAA had 75 companies waiting to adopt ASAP at the beginning of 2012.

With the message broker fully operational, one more hurdle has been cleared.

"This sets the stage for the future participation of additional alarm monitoring companies," Bonifas said. "Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available."

ESX on track to be largest ever

Organizers predict 30 percent increase in attendance
 - 
05/07/2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The 2012 Electronic Security Expo is on track to be the largest in the event’s five-year history, with more exhibitors and a projected 30 percent increase in attendance from last year, according to event organizers.

Going phone-free: A ringing endorsement for ASAP

Bill Hobgood details Richmond’s experience leading an alarm ‘revolution’
 - 
04/11/2012

LAS VEGAS—For Bill Hobgood, it’s easy to sum up the effectiveness of the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol: “We hate telephones ringing. We love ASAP.”

Can Tweets hurt your central?

 - 
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Social networking is a double-edged sword. It can be a boon to communication, but an ill-advised post can rebound to haunt you—and maybe your central—even if it’s quickly deleted.

So how do you manage the use of these sites and actually get them to help your business?

A CSAA webinar, “Social Media in the Central Station,” will take on the topic from 1 to 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 18. The session will be presented by Annie Roderick, monitoring center manager for Wayne Alarm Systems of Lynn, Mass., and Melissa Courville, a marketing executive with DICE Corp. and chairwoman of the CSAA Social Media Committee.

“Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter … give way to fast blurb results that can be easily found over the Internet at any time, sometimes linking to your business,” Courville said. “Not only are these social media outlets quick and easy to use, but they offer both helpful and hurtful connotations to business reputations.”

The webinar, adapted from material shared at the 2011 CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar, will teach attendees how to harness the power of networking sites and how to address central station staff about their use. Case studies will be shared to illustrate the do’s and don’ts.

Space for the session is limited. To reserve a seat, go to the CSAA registration site.

Monitoring contract provision can stand in way of sale

If your third-party monitoring center has a right of first refusal on your alarm company, that can impede selling it to anyone else
 - 
04/04/2012

LAS VEGAS—Read the fine print on your contract with your third-party monitoring center. You may find there’s a clause buried in it that says the monitoring center has the right to buy your alarm company before you can sell it to somebody else.

Barnes/SSN survey takes pulse of industry

 - 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How did the wholesale monitoring industry hold up in 2011? Michael Barnes knows.

Barnes, founding partner of Barnes Associates, a consulting and advisory firm specializing in the security alarm industry, recently completed a joint survey with Security Systems News that involved the biggest players in the industry. It was the second year that Barnes has conducted the survey with SSN, and it provided some interesting insights.

Without completely tipping Barnes’ hand, let’s just say that the industry grew. I had a chance to find out more about it this week in conversations with two leaders of the monitoring world, Russ MacDonnell of Rapid Response and Don Maden of COPS Monitoring. They both confirmed what the Barnes/SSN survey found, and that bodes well for the industry.

I’ll have more about the survey soon, both on the SSN website and in the April issue.

CSAA webinars: The Central Station Alarm Association has two sessions on tap that promise to be of interest to members and nonmembers alike.

“Building a Partnership with Insurers,” scheduled for 1 to 2 p.m. March 14, will focus on how insurers are resurrecting the insurance/alarm industry/law enforcement triad for lower losses and greater profits. “Social Media in the Central Station,” set for April 18 from 1 to 2 p.m., will examine the benefits and hazards of Facebook and Twitter in the monitoring workplace.

For more information on either webinar, contact Stephanie Morgan at smorgan@csaaintl.org or call 703-242-4670, Ext. 15.

New head of the class at CSAA

 - 
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Whether it’s informing members about best practices, the latest technology or training that can help their bottom lines, the Central Station Alarm Association has made it a mission to constantly raise the bar. That bar got a boost this month with the appointment of Stephanie S. Morgan, the CSAA’s first full-time director of education and training.

In her newly created position, Morgan will be responsible for expanding the CSAA’s technical and professional training, and for building on its foundation of courses, workshops and webinars. She joins the organization after 10 years in post-secondary education as an instructor and administrator.

“She brings a depth of understanding of the theoretical and practical applications of education and training not only to CSAA, but to the industry as well,” Steve Doyle, CSAA executive vice president and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “No industry succeeds in the long term without goals to continually educate and upgrade its work force. Stephanie will bring a fresh perspective to our programs and long-term educational goals.”

Morgan recently completed her doctorate in rhetoric and composition, with a concentration in technological literacy, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Five Diamond club: Congratulations also go out to the Crime Alert Monitoring Center of San Jose, Calif., which recently received Five Diamond certification from the CSAA. Crime Alert is one of fewer than 150 centrals nationwide to have earned the distinction.  

Vance in Vegas; Five Diamonds for Johnson Controls

 - 
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The last time SSN caught up with Mary Jo Vance, in April 2011, she was contemplating taking the summer off to “ride cross-country on my Harley” after leaving CenterPoint Technologies. Vance, better known in the industry as MJ, recently let CSAA members know she is “alive and very well in Vegas” after landing a new gig: manager of 1 Time Inc.’s new central station in Henderson, Nev.

MJ says she’ll have more details soon about her latest endeavor, but the company is still building its website and sorting through “new ideas and new adventures. … Right now we can’t give you the full picture.”

MJ served as vice president of operations and business development for CenterPoint for three years before what she described as an amicable departure last spring. A well-known and respected leader in the industry, she received the CSAA’s Manager of the Year award in 2007 and the Presidential Award from the Fire Marshals’ Association of Missouri in 2010.

Five Diamonds for Johnson: Congratulations to Johnson Controls’ central station in Milwaukee, which recently joined an elite group by earning Five Diamond certification from the CSAA. The station is among 132 of roughly 2,700 centrals nationwide to have received the distinction, according to the CSAA’s website.

To qualify, all of Johnson Controls’ central operators had to pass a CSAA online training course, proving their proficiency in alarm verification, PSAP communications, knowledge of electronic communications equipment and the standards of Underwriters Laboratories, Factory Mutual, the National Fire Protection Association and other organizations.

“This prestigious certification reflects the dedication and determination our central station operators bring to the job to help protect the many corporate customers we monitor every day in the U.S.,” Paul Pisarski, manager of field support and remote operations for the company’s Building Efficiency unit, said in a prepared statement.

Calling all duffers: Looking to get into the swing at ISC West before everyone hits the show floor? Then this one’s for you: the ninth annual Alarm Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF) golf tournament, scheduled for Tuesday, March 27 at the Revere Golf Club in Las Vegas.

The Electronic Security Association created the nonprofit AIREF in 1977 as a way to help raise money for industry research. Funding for the foundation is derived almost solely from the golf tournament, which promises players “a casual golf outing” with other industry professionals while supporting AIREF in the process.

To register for the tournament, visit www.airef.org. For more information, call 203-762-2444 or email Pat Remes at premes@airef.org.

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