False Alarm Prevention Tips For Dealers

Alex Flitton
Aug 23, 2018 8:05:00 AM

It has been estimated that there are more than 240 Million calls made to 911 each year. Astonishingly, about 90-95 percent of those are false alarms. Although the responsibility to reduce the financial impact and time spent on false alarms rests on individual police departments, the responsibility to eliminate the calls made belongs, in part, to the professional central stations who monitor security, fire and PERS systems.

What Is A False Alarm?

According to urban.org, “Police departments commonly define a false alarm as a call which an investigation shows no evidence of criminal activity such as broken windows, forced doors, items missing, or people injured. Alarm systems by their very presence deter some burglaries. There is a tradeoff in using security systems among tolerating false alarms, deterring crimes, and—infrequently catching a criminal at the scene.”

If that wasn’t simple enough, it basically means that if a police officer arrives on a scene and there is no evidence for them to investigate, it is a false alarm.

So now that you understand what the definition of a false alarm is, let’s take a look at how dealers and central stations can help reduce false alarms.

Customer Education

The first step to helping reduce false alarms is to educate customers. They are the ones who are most directly connected with the alarm systems and therefore will have the greatest insight into what is happening on-site. Dealers can educate their subscribers in a number of ways and at multiple points in their customer lifecycle.

Some of those communication methods include, but are not limited to:

  • Emails
  • Social Media Posts
  • Training Pamphlets
  • Videos

It is helpful to warn them about fees that may come from their local law enforcement division and even potential damage to their home. Often times when police officers or firefighters cannot enter a home to properly assess and resolve a situation, they will simply break down the front door. Educating customers about these potential risks to their homes will encourage them to take proactive steps to protecting their property and reducing the risk of having to pay a false-dispatch fee.

Aside from creating convenient communication methods for customers, it is also important to help keep them updated and re-trained on false-alarm reduction methods throughout each customer lifecycle stage. Even a subscriber who has had a security system for 30 years will need to be regularly educated in order to use their system most effectively. Many dealers offer incentives for completing training because they see a direct return on alarm system profitability.

Learn more about how your alarm factor could be costing you money.

Group Chat Technology

The second method dealers can implement to help reduce false alarms is by implementing a group chat system into the alarm management process. It is becoming more and more commonplace to see this technology offered, especially among smart home companies like Alarm.com.

Group chat technology is particularly effective at reducing false alarms because it includes more voices into the alarm management process. For example, if an employee stays late to finish a project and accidentally trips the alarm on the way out, that person’s manager will be able to inform the other contacts on the account within seconds.

Learn more about how AG Chat helps reduce false alarms.

Integrated Video Verification

Integrated video, although not a particularly honed technology, is quickly becoming one of the most effective methods of verifying whether or not an alarm is due to a stray cat tripping a motion detector or if there really is an unwelcome intruder. Video feeds that are integrated with the central station monitoring center offer unparalleled insights to the operator who is handling the alarm.

The next challenge with integrated video, however, is to reduce the number of alarms that go into the central station. But, as the technology continues to improve, it will become more and more capable of identifying the nature of the motion it detects. But, until then, it will be a major outlier for dealers’ alarm factor scores.

Better System Installation And Equipment Upkeep

The final way for dealers to help reduce the number of false alarms is by better installing the systems they sell. A significant percentage of alarms are sent to the monitoring center because of a faulty installation or even because of spiderwebs, moving tarps or vulnerable wires.

In the end, false dispatches are everybody’s problem and they will get paid for one way or another. Many cities across the United States are taking a proactive approach about not sending police or firefighters to a location without verification that there is an actual intrusion. This, however, will only put honest subscribers at risk because of the millions who cry wolf.

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