80-85% of Alarm Systems are Causing No Dispatches

Stan Martin by Stan Martin | 10.03.2012

By effectively training your customers, you can greatly reduce false alarms.

This may surprise you, but the electronic security industry has achieved a significant milestone.  Our industry has driven down the number of unwanted dispatches to the point where 80-85% of alarm systems are causing no dispatches.  With cities that follow our model and enforce their ordinance over 92% of the systems have one or no dispatches!  The statistic  is powerful because it demonstrates how far we’ve come.  And, it shows that the vast majority of our systems work as designed. It’s also our greatest argument in support of continuing law enforcement response to alarms.

This change crept up on us.  That’s because good things were happening bit by bit.  There wasn’t a sudden drop one year.  Through a number of best practices, we were able to reach this figure, which means less than 5%  of systems are causing ALL of the problems related to unwanted alarm signals.  That’s a number we’re controlling more effectively every year.

Ten years ago, the alarm industry had significant problems when it came to unnecessary dispatches.   Systems had an alarm factor of over 3 (averaging three or more false dispatches a year per system). Now, with our model ordinance implemented more and more across North America, the alarm factor average is closer to 0.5  with a residential factor now at 0.2 or only one dispatch every five years!

A Great Example of Success
Phoenix, AZ is a great example.  The city has one of the nation’s most effective alarm management programs.  In 2011, 84.92 percent of Phoenix alarm users did not have any false alarms, and the program recovered more than $2.8 million in costs. The Phoenix program recognizes that the vast majority of alarm systems protect property and lives without ever generating calls for service from the police.  These best practices can be applied to any public safety agency.

Statistics show that less than five percent of Phoenix alarm sites generate multiple false alarms. The city’s alarm unit has a proactive program of educating alarm owners that has resulted in a steady decrease in false alarms.  The city, in cooperation with the Arizona Alarm Association, holds alarm schools for citizens. Beyond education and alarm schools, Phoenix’s Police Department has its detectives inspect sites where multiple unnecessary alarms have activated.  They provide alarm owners with literature on how to fix the problem through training or better knowledge about the system. 

SIAC weighs in with local officials on best practices from other campaigns, including the need for registration, fines, two-call verification and CP-01 equipment panels.  Combining the efforts of police, the Arizona Alarm Association and SIAC led to the improved numbers everyone was seeking.

Sites with 3+ false dispatches per year are easy to identify. It takes a little extra effort by security companies to do what is necessary to fix problems, whether it’s to pull out old and antiquated equipment or retrain users.  Regardless of the solution, it can be done, and that’s the next hill we need to scale. 

With the number of problematic sites low, and number of systems causing no dispatches rising, it would be easy to get caught up in our success.  We cannot become complacent.  We need to continue taking steps to drive the trend lower. Every dealer should continue training customers well, continue to install quality equipment properly and identify and fix their own chronic abusers.  Visit our Web site, use our tools, get in touch with us, and let’s work together to keep improving these numbers.