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NICE Systems launches PSAP tool

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08/16/2013

RA’ANANA, Israel—NICE Systems recently announced the launch of NICE Inform Version 6, which enables Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to evaluate the quality of service delivered across an entire emergency incident, according to a company statement.

More mobility for UCC with new central station automation

Company cites need for improved efficiencies, dealer apps
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06/26/2013

SAN ANTONIO—United Central Control is switching to SGS’ Stages for its central station automation, giving UCC dealers expanded access to mobile applications and improving efficiencies to reduce alarm-processing errors, company officials told Security Systems News.

Checkpoint sells CheckView; Richmond honored for ASAP

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Checkpoint Systems, a global supplier of loss-prevention products and solutions for the retail industry, announced earlier this month that it was negotiating the sale of its CheckView integration and monitoring business. On Monday, the buyer was ID’d: Platinum Equity, a California-based private equity firm, which will make the deal for $5.4 million.

In a blog Tuesday, Seeking Alpha analyst Brenon Daly called the deal “one of the more financially lopsided divestitures we've seen in some time. ... The electronic security unit generated roughly $77 million of revenue in 2012, although it did run slightly in the red.”

The transaction includes CheckView’s CSAA Five Diamond-certified central station in Chanhassen, Minn. CheckView also sells digital video cameras and monitors to combat retail crime, along with fire and intrusion alarm systems for that vertical.

In a prepared statement, Checkpoint said its board of directors had determined that CheckView could better serve its customers as an independent, entrepreneurial and more focused organization. George Babich, who was named Checkpoint’s CEO and president on March 4, said that Platinum Equity has “a strong track record helping companies reach their full potential. … We are committed to support CheckView throughout the sale process to ensure an orderly transition with full continuity of service to customers.”

“CheckView will act as a platform acquisition and allow us to focus on the core business while pursuing organic-growth initiatives and strategic add-ons in a highly fragmented space,” said Platinum Equity principal Jason Leach.

On March 5, Checkpoint reported a fourth-quarter loss of $35.4 million, or 86 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $19.1 million, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier. The company’s shares closed at $13.43 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

ASAP honors for Richmond: Computerworld, which bills itself as “the leading source of technology news and information for IT influencers,” recently gave a nod to Richmond, Va., for a tech program that’s been making headlines in the alarm world: the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol.

Richmond’s participation in ASAP earned the city a 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate, an award that recognizes “visionary applications of information technology promoting positive social, economic and educational change.” Richmond was one of three public safety answering points that served as charter municipalities for the program; six were participating by the end of 2012.

“Receiving Computerworld’s Honors Laureate acknowledges the outstanding achievement and advancement of our city’s Department of Information Technology and 911 staff in providing excellent service to Richmond’s residents,” Mayor Dwight Jones said in a prepared statement. “The benefits of the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol program are tremendous as it reduces 911 processing times, reduces response times by first responders, and provides an extremely accurate data exchange between the alarm monitoring companies and [PSAPs].”

ASAP getting closer to reaching ‘critical mass’

Central stations stepping up to speed alarm notifications to PSAPs
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02/01/2013

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.

Head of fire chiefs' group casts vote for ASAP

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It’s the season of spin. But no matter how you slice it, the opening paragraph of last week’s commentary by Hank Clemmensen, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, isn’t a ringing endorsement of central stations.

“I always had supported remote station monitoring for my city’s fire alarms, both because I believed it would provide faster notification and because I believed central stations always take too long,” wrote Clemmensen, the fire chief in Inverness, Ill., on the website FireChief.com. “Phone calls between the central station operators and our PSAP take way too much time, and the conversations are vulnerable to errors.”

It’s tough to argue with that. The garbling of names and addresses has long been an issue for police and fire departments, and when is an emergency call ever fast enough? But it turns out that Clemmensen doesn’t have an ax to grind with the alarm community, as he quickly makes clear in hailing a top industry initiative: the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol.

“The interface allows a central station operator who has to notify a PSAP of an alarm to transmit all the information directly to that PSAP’s CAD screen with only a few keystrokes,” he said. “… Think about an operator from the Deep South talking to a PSAP call taker from New Jersey or Boston. Both are speaking English, but the languages are different. The interface transfers data without a telephone conversation—eliminating the chance of the PSAP call taker misunderstanding the central station alarm operator.”

Clemmensen goes on to praise the Central Station Alarm Association and the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System for laying the necessary groundwork to secure the ASAP system. The computerized message broker for ASAP is at the Nlets facility in Phoenix.

“A core group of alarm companies financed the development and implementation of this system, and they are committed to getting jurisdictions with large numbers of alarms connected to ASAP,” he said.

Clemmensen’s take on the protocol has to be music to the CSAA’s ears. It also serves as a rallying point for other fire chiefs nationwide.

“Are you willing to reduce your response times by at least 1.5 to 3 minutes with quicker alarm notification and fewer errors? It sounds like a no-brainer,” he said. “The majority of fire alarms are not true emergencies, and if this new interface gets us the needed information sooner, responses could be modified. … This could just be one more tool to help reduce line-of-duty deaths and make sure everyone goes home.”

Help the CSAA track trends in monitoring

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What are central stations doing to keep up with times—and the competition—when it comes to technology, reducing false alarms and other issues of importance to the industry?

The Central Station Alarm Association would like to know.

The CSAA is looking for help in tracking technology trends and investments in personnel at monitoring centers across the country. The goal is to establish a databank “that will be useful in benchmarking performance” in the industry, according to CSAA Executive Vice President Steve Doyle.

The topics range from the basics—the number of accounts that a central handles and the certifications it has—to specifics about advanced technologies and operational policies. PERS, GPS-assisted calls, UL2050 accounts, video monitoring, video-verified alarms, ASAP protocols and employee training procedures—it’s all covered.

It’s important information that will allow the CSAA to see where the monitoring industry is and where it’s heading. The 25-question survey is also easy to complete—I filled out a placebo version in five minutes, faster than the refs could sort out a holding call in the Pats-Ravens game.

To complete the survey, click here. Participants will receive an executive summary of the findings, which will be released publicly Nov. 11-13 at the CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar in Fairfax, Va.
 

Key piece of ASAP puzzle now in place

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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."

Taking it all in at ISC West

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Quite the first day for a first-timer at ISC West, and for a first-timer to Vegas to boot. Now I can understand what all the fuss was about leading up to the show.

Day One started with a “Meet the Editors” session at the SSN booth—No. 27065, stop by if you get a chance—which was followed by a full slate of media gatherings and meet-and-greets. Here were a few:

— I got the lowdown from ASSA ABLOY on what it’s doing to fill the “medium security” gap for access control, or components targeting the void between $200 and $4,000. The company sees a growth market there and is moving to take advantage.

— Bill Hobgood, project director for the Department of Information Technology, Public Safety Team, for the city of Richmond, Va., gave a firsthand account of what ASAP can do for speeding the flow of information between central stations and PSAPs. If you’re still holding on to the phone as the future, Richmond’s experience will change your mind.

— Chris Holbert, CEO of SecuraTrac, told me how the company’s new app, SecuraFone, disables social media sites when in motion—hello, distracted teens—along with immobilizing email and texting. Other features include physical tracking and more importantly, emergency response for seniors. SecuraTrac is teaming with Mace CS to expand along this avenue in the future.

— Bosch acknowledged the hectic pace of the day with a 5 p.m. session that featured a truck giveaway and happy hour refreshments, which turned out to be a real crowd-pleaser. A great way to end a long day on the floor.

My day isn’t done yet—I’m about the step out the door to attend a UCC cocktail party—and Day Two and Day Three await, so I’ll sign off for now. Much more ahead, hopefully with a decent night’s sleep to take it all in. The young and lively door-bangers in the room next door may have something to say about that, though. This is Vegas, after all …    

CSAA sets Jan. 31 deadline for ASAP charter membership

Central stations that pledge will have the first opportunity to connect to the automated network
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12/01/2011

VIENNA, Va.—Thinking about getting on board with the CSAA to take advantage of the new Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) program? To be among the stations at the front of the line, you’d better act soon–a Jan. 31 deadline will separate the haves from the have-nots.

UL, Intertek announce support for ASAP

The testing labs find the program to speed the delivery of alarm notifications meets national standards
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11/22/2011

CAMAS, Wash. and FAIRFIELD, N.J.—The monitoring industry’s Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) got a big boost recently when Underwriters Laboratories and Intertek both announced that the new program meets the requirements of the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA 72).