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Habitec cuts police dispatches 20 percent with ECV

Ohio-based company says customers embracing two-call verification

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.

NPR program rips industry over false alarms

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

American Public Media’s “Marketplace” weighed in on false alarms this week, with the featured guest delivering a decidedly unfavorable verdict for the security industry: Alarm customers might be better off relying on a dog.

Program host Kai Ryssdal interviewed Stephen Dubner of, who cited a litany of figures and study results that don’t reflect well on alarm companies. Here’s a bit of what Dubner had to say on the show, which aired on National Public Radio:

—“We talked to Simon Hakim, an economist at Temple who’s been studying this issue for a long time. He says that in a given year, U.S. police respond to more than 35 million alarm activations. … Something like 95 percent of them are false alarms and the cost is about $2 billion.”

—“Financial analysts say that industry leader ADT ... has an operating margin of about 25 percent on roughly $3 billion [in] annual revenues. So these false alarms pose what economists call a negative externality. That is, the provider charges you for the service, but then they pass along a big part of their costs to someone else. In this case, the police departments and the taxpayers who support them.”

—“Well, it’s probably a good idea to make the alarm companies more accountable in some fashion, including having them make alarms that don’t fail so often. … As for me, I think I’m just going to ditch my new alarm that seems to go off every five minutes.”

Dubner then referred to his new deterrent—growling can be heard in the background—and told Ryssdal, “Go ahead. Make my dog’s day.”

On the positive side, Dubner quoted Hakim as saying that alarm systems deter burglars to some degree, citing “the sign in the yard and the threat of the alarm and the police.” He also quoted Ron Walters, director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, who said false alarms are SIAC’s “No. 1 priority. This is the one issue that we have decided has to be addressed.”

The incidence of user error was briefly mentioned, along with the move toward more video monitoring to verify whether an alarm call is legit. But that was about it for the bouquets, which points to the long-standing need to better educate customers and improve relationships with law enforcement to reduce false dispatches.

It’s either that or the doghouse.  

SIAC offers e-notification for alarm ordinance changes

New Web feature automatically informs members about activity in their cities

FRISCO, Texas—The Security Industry Alarm Coalition is giving its members access to an upgraded online database to help them keep pace with ordinance changes that could affect the way they do business.

Three out of four for Monitronics; Tweets for SIAC

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Make it three out of four for Monitronics.

The Dallas-based alarm monitoring firm was recently named Frost & Sullivan’s North American Company of the Year for 2011, adding to similar awards the company won in 2008 and 2010.

Frost & Sullivan praised Monitronics for maximizing value to clients by expanding its customer service operations and streamlining internal processes, resulting in record-low attrition for the year. The market researchers also cited the company’s “concerted efforts” to expand its dealer network, a point that wasn’t lost on Bruce Mungiguerra, VP of sales and dealer development for Monitronics.

“The biggest part for us, for our company and our dealers, is the way our program is modeled as a 100 percent dealer environment,” he told Security Systems News. “All of our business comes through our dealer network, and we really promote a high level of branding for our dealers to promote themselves and be their own local company.”

Mungiguerra said the award gives Monitronics’ dealers a big boost when it comes to marketing their services.

“Being able to have been recognized as the North American alarm provider of the year now for three years, it really helps give credibility to the dealers,” he said. “They can use those logos and that information on their branding to show what a great central station we are. … At the end of the day, our bread and butter is the ability to provide great monitoring services to retain our customers for a long time.”

Tweets for SIAC: Social media and the Security Industry Alarm Coalition? It might not sound like a match made in heaven, but SIAC sees the value of Tweets and blogs and is taking advantage of the new tools. Since launching its initiative a year ago, the group has attracted more than 100 followers on Twitter and 40 to 50 blog readers a week.

“While we have overcome many challenges, our industry continues to face significant issues in many communities,” said Stan Martin, SIAC’s executive director. “Social media helps us keep industry leaders informed on key issues in real time so that we can engage law enforcement and elected officials early in the decision-making process.”

SIAC’s weekly blog can be found at, with Tweets at @SIACINC.

“It’s a long-term growth process to get more people involved in improving alarm management practices across the country,” said Dave Simon, SIAC’s communications director. “The first step is sending relevant, consistent information, and we believe these tools are effectively serving that purpose.”

Four new members named to SIAC board

Diebold’s Stroia heads group bringing 'fresh energy'

FRISCO, Texas—Four new members have been named to the board of directors of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), an exchange of industry veterans that brings the group "fresh energy and fresh ideas," according to Executive Director Stan Martin.

San Jose's non-response policy catches alarm industry off guard

Holiday 'surprise' has companies and owners assessing potential costs

SAN JOSE, Calif.—The police department’s new non-response policy for unverified alarms, announced the week before Christmas and put into effect Jan. 1, ignores data on enhanced call verification and rolls out a “welcome mat” for burglars, alarm industry officials say.

New SIAC training program takes on user error

Initiative aims to cut false dispatches by helping customers understand their systems

FRISCO, Texas—False dispatches mean user error.
In the majority of cases that’s the reality, according to the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, which has found that customer errors account for up to 77 percent of false police dispatches. And while initiatives such as ECV, model ordinances and CP-01 equipment standards have cut into that number over the years, the problem continues to dog the industry.

Reversal of Avondale ordinance possible

Industry advocates overturning ordinance fining alarm companies

AVONDALE, Ariz.—A city provision to shift the fines assessed for false alarms from consumers to alarm companies could soon be rescinded due to concerns about the measure’s constitutionality.

Pueblo considering ECV

Local alarm companies dissatisfied

PUEBLO, Colo.—The Security Industry Alarm Coalition is facing opposition from local alarm companies in its work with municipal authorities here to create and adopt an acceptable ordinance that includes fines for false alarms and an enhanced call verification (ECV) policy.

Major market no longer responding to unverified alarms

Moves from ECV to VR

DETROIT—City police here have instituted a new policy—effective Aug. 22—of no longer responding to alarms that aren't verified by the alarm system owner or the monitoring company.