Guest Post: One Size Doesn’t Fit All in Alarm Management

Stan Martin by Stan Martin | 11.05.2014

siac_logoStan Martin is the Executive Director for SIAC, the Security Industry Alarm Coalition.

When it comes to developing the best alarm management program for your local jurisdiction, one size does NOT fit all. It’s tempting to argue the opposite — there is so much commonality in what works that regardless of the communities you do business in, the standards, requirements, policies and procedures should be the same.  We have found over the years that is not the case.  The terrain in each community is different, the politics are different and the players are different.  That means it’s important to feel out the landscape, talk to the most involved parties and figure out the best solutions that work for everyone with a stake in the game.

It’s not just security companies we’re discussing here.  City mayors, council members, police chiefs, citizen activists and home and business alarm owners all want to see their communities protected in the best way possible, with the least amount of waste when it comes to public resource allocation.  State laws also need to be taken into consideration.

Understanding the Challenges
Solutions must be customized region to region, state to state and city to city. While the practices SIAC espouses and has successfully helped communities implement are well-proven and show better results when more of them are applied, there are still complexities we encounter on a case-by-case basis.  These can include administration/manpower, city/county revenue, lack of internal controls, politicians resistant to fees or wanting to be too generous with “free” responses, enforcement and even the level of engagement from the security companies doing business in the area.

There is no silver bullet, no magical solution. What we advocate, and what has proven successful time after time, is a nuanced approach that adopts to local conditions after lengthy discussions with all the involved parties. This may seem self-evident:  To bring everyone to the table first, discuss approaches, air differences, iron out the bugs and determine what is most feasible to implement given local circumstances.  That’s why one size doesn’t fit all.

SIAC’s Mission
One of the core parts of SIAC’s mission is continuing education for the alarm industry on how to improve alarm management programs.   We also facilitate/negotiate differences between parties, so if you face a contentious situation, SIAC is a great option to consider to help bring all the sides together.

Next week we will be attending CONNECT 2014. If you’re attending, stop by at Expo 2014 and ask us what components make successful programs. They can include two-call verification (ECV-Enhanced Call Verification), permitting provisions, CP-01 equipment standards, escalating fines, and cutting off response after a specific number of invalidated alarms.

From community to community, it’s these provisions which can be mixed, modified and matched for success while adapting to local circumstances. Some folks believe there is only one answer to alarm response, with very specific provisions. As we’ve helped demonstrate time and time again in communities across North America, that’s just not the case.  In the end, after all the parties can agree it is very powerful when we stand with law enforcement in a council meeting and say it’s a joint document that everyone strongly supports.  Rarely will a council ask more than a couple of questions and before voting to proceed, and that’s a sign of support.

We look forward to seeing you in person at CONNECT 2014 to share what we know and learn from you.