Government Technology

911 Alarm Transmission Standard Approved



January 27, 2009 By

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) announced Monday the approval of an American National Standard that enables alarm companies to transmit alerts to 911 centers automatically.

Alarm companies typically place a phone call to 911 centers when an alarm sounds, but the new standard would send them automatically.

An automated standard could eliminate 32 million calls nationally from the alarm companies to the 911 public safety answering points, erasing the two to three minutes of processing time that call-takers need for obtaining information from alarm company operators, according to Bill Hobgood, public safety team project manager of the Richmond, Va., Department of Information Technology.

"That means police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) will get to the scene of an emergency two and a half to three minutes faster," Hobgood said. "That will increase the likelihood of police apprehension. It increases the chances that fires will be extinguished faster, possibly avoiding a structure being completely engulfed when they arrive. Of course, a bunch of lives will be saved from an EMS standpoint."

Hobgood led pilot testing of the standard in Richmond, prompting APCO's consideration for a national standard. The pilot involved one alarm company and two 911 centers, one in Richmond, and the other in nearby York County. The pilot eliminated 5,000 calls during the two-year time span. Richmond is considering making the standard law.

Hobgood predicts alarm companies won't have trouble adopting the standard.

"The standard is XML-based. A complete package has been laid out for all [the companies]," he said.

Would the new standard prompt 911 centers to cut staff because there would be fewer incoming calls? Hobgood said he doubts that would happen. Fewer calls from alarm companies would free the call-takers to answer the remaining calls promptly, he said.

"The problem today is there is a de facto standard within 911 centers that all calls must be answered in 10 seconds or less. 911 centers are not meeting that because the volume of calls is increasing, yet their level of staff has remained the same," Hobgood explained, blaming funding shortages and high turnover.

"We want to make sure these 911 call-takers are charged with a manageable level of calls and have more time to spend on the true emergencies," he added.

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Comments

Anonymous    |    Commented January 28, 2009

This report lacks a great deal of information. How exactly will this work? Does the alarm go directly to 911 or to 911 AND the alarm company OR .... What happpens on the alarms that are false? Do the police get sent only to those calls that appear to be valid? I understand fully the time that would be saved in true alarms....but, except for EMS, what is the law of averages on an alarm being a true emergency? Are there enough police officers available to answer all the calls? Some jurisdictions have decided not to answer burglar alarms for this very reason. So, although I have to trust APCO to not put more of a workload onto the dispatchers I am wondering how this actually works. This report indicates a win for the alarm companies but NOT for the 911 centers. Unless false alarms can be weeded out at least to the same degree as they are now, how can this possibly save time. I seems to me that that 2 to 3 minute savings may not be accurate as the responding officer is not available because he/she is on the way to yet another alarm. Please explain how this works, how it saves time for the calltaker/dispatcher. More information is needed!

Anonymous    |    Commented January 28, 2009

This report lacks a great deal of information. How exactly will this work? Does the alarm go directly to 911 or to 911 AND the alarm company OR .... What happpens on the alarms that are false? Do the police get sent only to those calls that appear to be valid? I understand fully the time that would be saved in true alarms....but, except for EMS, what is the law of averages on an alarm being a true emergency? Are there enough police officers available to answer all the calls? Some jurisdictions have decided not to answer burglar alarms for this very reason. So, although I have to trust APCO to not put more of a workload onto the dispatchers I am wondering how this actually works. This report indicates a win for the alarm companies but NOT for the 911 centers. Unless false alarms can be weeded out at least to the same degree as they are now, how can this possibly save time. I seems to me that that 2 to 3 minute savings may not be accurate as the responding officer is not available because he/she is on the way to yet another alarm. Please explain how this works, how it saves time for the calltaker/dispatcher. More information is needed!

Anonymous    |    Commented January 28, 2009

This report lacks a great deal of information. How exactly will this work? Does the alarm go directly to 911 or to 911 AND the alarm company OR .... What happpens on the alarms that are false? Do the police get sent only to those calls that appear to be valid? I understand fully the time that would be saved in true alarms....but, except for EMS, what is the law of averages on an alarm being a true emergency? Are there enough police officers available to answer all the calls? Some jurisdictions have decided not to answer burglar alarms for this very reason. So, although I have to trust APCO to not put more of a workload onto the dispatchers I am wondering how this actually works. This report indicates a win for the alarm companies but NOT for the 911 centers. Unless false alarms can be weeded out at least to the same degree as they are now, how can this possibly save time. I seems to me that that 2 to 3 minute savings may not be accurate as the responding officer is not available because he/she is on the way to yet another alarm. Please explain how this works, how it saves time for the calltaker/dispatcher. More information is needed!

Bill    |    Commented January 28, 2009

The whole automatic 911 transfer sounds great, and as pointed out, has many benefits. So while the private sector receives less work but still charging the customer the same, the 911 center handles most of the private alarm companies duties answering the false alarms, while burdening the tax payers. Wow, the taxpayers get hit twice now for the same service. Hmm...something just isn't right here.

Bill    |    Commented January 28, 2009

The whole automatic 911 transfer sounds great, and as pointed out, has many benefits. So while the private sector receives less work but still charging the customer the same, the 911 center handles most of the private alarm companies duties answering the false alarms, while burdening the tax payers. Wow, the taxpayers get hit twice now for the same service. Hmm...something just isn't right here.

Bill    |    Commented January 28, 2009

The whole automatic 911 transfer sounds great, and as pointed out, has many benefits. So while the private sector receives less work but still charging the customer the same, the 911 center handles most of the private alarm companies duties answering the false alarms, while burdening the tax payers. Wow, the taxpayers get hit twice now for the same service. Hmm...something just isn't right here.

Ira    |    Commented January 29, 2009

After actually reading the standard, it's rather "Next Gen". The Alarm Companies actually create a CAD event and send it to participating PSAPs CAD systems. The Alarm Companies are held to their "current triage" of the alarm before sending the request for service to the PSAPs. So, it's not so much "automatic" as it is "automated." Semantics. Implementation Recommendations #1 - Rules and procedures by which alarm monitoring companies may be required either by policy or local ordinance(s) to attempt contact with someone at the alarm site prior to the delivery of an electronic alarm exchange to the PSAP will not change and the process is unaffected by this IEPD.

Ira    |    Commented January 29, 2009

After actually reading the standard, it's rather "Next Gen". The Alarm Companies actually create a CAD event and send it to participating PSAPs CAD systems. The Alarm Companies are held to their "current triage" of the alarm before sending the request for service to the PSAPs. So, it's not so much "automatic" as it is "automated." Semantics. Implementation Recommendations #1 - Rules and procedures by which alarm monitoring companies may be required either by policy or local ordinance(s) to attempt contact with someone at the alarm site prior to the delivery of an electronic alarm exchange to the PSAP will not change and the process is unaffected by this IEPD.

Ira    |    Commented January 29, 2009

After actually reading the standard, it's rather "Next Gen". The Alarm Companies actually create a CAD event and send it to participating PSAPs CAD systems. The Alarm Companies are held to their "current triage" of the alarm before sending the request for service to the PSAPs. So, it's not so much "automatic" as it is "automated." Semantics. Implementation Recommendations #1 - Rules and procedures by which alarm monitoring companies may be required either by policy or local ordinance(s) to attempt contact with someone at the alarm site prior to the delivery of an electronic alarm exchange to the PSAP will not change and the process is unaffected by this IEPD.

yvonnert    |    Commented March 12, 2009

Wonder how this would translate for Triple Zero. Trying to verify addresses is already aspect of our arrangements, and creates additional work at CAD end. Would be prefereable if alarm companies are required to provide data w pre-validated addresses w a pfi against our standard state address data. Why should we have to do additional work cleaning alarm companies data for them?

yvonnert    |    Commented March 12, 2009

Wonder how this would translate for Triple Zero. Trying to verify addresses is already aspect of our arrangements, and creates additional work at CAD end. Would be prefereable if alarm companies are required to provide data w pre-validated addresses w a pfi against our standard state address data. Why should we have to do additional work cleaning alarm companies data for them?

yvonnert    |    Commented March 12, 2009

Wonder how this would translate for Triple Zero. Trying to verify addresses is already aspect of our arrangements, and creates additional work at CAD end. Would be prefereable if alarm companies are required to provide data w pre-validated addresses w a pfi against our standard state address data. Why should we have to do additional work cleaning alarm companies data for them?

Anonymous    |    Commented March 19, 2009

I believe more study needs to done on this matter; has it been tested yet? Is this causing confusion with alarms dialing directly to 9-1-1? Were is this a safety factor? Is it time or officer safety? I believe statistics will show that probably 3 of 10 alarms are true alarms. I have to agree, get some facts together before the alarm companies take advantage of 9-1-1 and the citizens. 9-1-1 budgets are stretched to the limit already...

Anonymous    |    Commented March 19, 2009

I believe more study needs to done on this matter; has it been tested yet? Is this causing confusion with alarms dialing directly to 9-1-1? Were is this a safety factor? Is it time or officer safety? I believe statistics will show that probably 3 of 10 alarms are true alarms. I have to agree, get some facts together before the alarm companies take advantage of 9-1-1 and the citizens. 9-1-1 budgets are stretched to the limit already...

Anonymous    |    Commented March 19, 2009

I believe more study needs to done on this matter; has it been tested yet? Is this causing confusion with alarms dialing directly to 9-1-1? Were is this a safety factor? Is it time or officer safety? I believe statistics will show that probably 3 of 10 alarms are true alarms. I have to agree, get some facts together before the alarm companies take advantage of 9-1-1 and the citizens. 9-1-1 budgets are stretched to the limit already...


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