Physical security

What increased false alarm ordinance means for security monitoring

Calipsa 01 October 2019
  • Physical security

False Alarm Ordinance is becoming increasingly strict across many regions of the United States. As tougher laws, bigger fines and verified response become more common, now is the time for security monitoring companies to prepare to seize the opportunities that come with such changes.

Across the country, cities and states consistently report that as many as 94-99% of burglar alarms triggered are false - at the detriment of 911 resources and taxpayer money. This has led to law enforcement officials implementing various forms of False Alarm Ordinance in their cities, all aimed at tackling this problem and reducing the number of false alarm calls.

However, despite best efforts to reduce false alarms, the problem still persists - meaning more and more municipalities are reviewing their approach to False Alarm Ordinance. But what does this mean for monitoring companies and how can they get on top?

False Alarm Ordinance moves towards visual verification 

The most common method of False Alarm Ordinance across the US has long been fines. An example being within the city of Phoenix, where more than one false burglar alarm within a consecutive 365 day period can cost you $96.00 or more. In some regions, this is taken one step further. In cities such as Cincinnati, authorities will no longer respond to false alarms from worst offenders.

But with fines seemingly failing to solve the issue of excessive false alarms, many regions are looking for new solutions - one solution being verified response.

Verified response shifts alarm signal verification to alarm companies by requiring someone like a guard or a CCTV operator to visually verify that a crime has or is occurring prior to police dispatch. Essentially, alarm companies must visually verify that an alarm is caused by a genuine threat before contacting 911. This approach has long been endorsed and followed by law enforcement in a select few municipalities. However 2019 has seen the trend gain traction.

Earlier this year, Sandy Springs updated their false alarm ordinance. As a result of 99% of alarms received by their 911 dispatch centre being false, the city passed an ordinance stating police will not respond to home and business burglary alarms without video, audio or in-person verification that a crime is occurring. 

This move made the headlines and is paving the way for more similar developments moving forward.

How can monitoring companies prepare for tougher False Alarm Ordinance

This development in False Alarm Ordinance provides both a challenge and an opportunity for alarm and monitoring companies. So what steps should you take now to prepare for the future?

  • Shift towards visual verification

    Verified response requires a shift in approach. Traditional intruder alarms that work on a motion sensor will no longer provide sufficient evidence to 911 dispatchers. A shift towards video and CCTV security systems provides a much more efficient, robust and secure method for identifying crime. For both business and end users alike, it also reduces the likelihood of receiving hefty fines or risking alarms going by with no response.

    Many alarm companies already specialise in video monitoring, making them ideally set-up to win new business in the era of visual verification. But the CCTV market is growing; expected to witness a growth of 12.3% to reach US$ 24 billion by 2026. Monitoring companies that don't currently support visual verification should act fast and invest in CCTV and video to ensure they aren’t left behind.

    There are a number of things to consider when making the investment in video. This includes what camera manufacturers you want to use (use a distributor to benefit from their extensive knowledge of the product available), what video monitoring software you will need, how your central station set-up will need changing, whether your dealers support CCTV installation and what training you will need to give your operators on video monitoring and visual verification.
  • Reduce false alarms

    However, shifting towards video monitoring is just the first step. Although it provides better verification and helps improve security, CCTV also suffers from a significant false alarm problem of its own - up to 95% in some cases. Although these false alarms don’t put a direct burden on law enforcement - as monitoring station operators visually verify and discard false alarms before calling 911 dispatch - they place huge pressure on the internal resource that has to deal with them.

    Operators must review every alarm they receive to distinguish between true and false alarms. The more false alarms, the slower the response time to genuine alarms. This can lead to a host of problems like operator fatigue, which can lead to missed incidents.

    The solution is to remove false alarms before they even reach the visual verification stage. Using a false alarm filter like Calipsa, which is powered by deep learning technology, over 85% of false alarms can be removed before hitting the central station. The result is more efficient alarm verification and a quicker response to real incidents. All helping to mitigate the effects brought on by the new False Alarm Ordinances that are being implemented across the country.

As False Alarm Ordinance requiring visual verification gains traction, the way in which alarm companies and monitoring stations deliver security solutions must evolve. CCTV provides not just the initial protection, but also the level of visual verification that is becoming essential. 

However tackling false alarms must go one step further. To be set up for success, security companies should be looking at how they can reduce false alarms in the first place - before they become a problem. By reducing false alarms before they reach operators, not only will the chance of a false alarm reaching 911 dispatch be greatly reduced, it will also improve overall efficiency, monitoring performance and the customer experience. 

Calipsa is providing the solution to false alarm management. Our False Alarm Filtering Platform removes over 85% of CCTV false alarms before they reach an operator, paving the way for better crime detection and prevention. Read more about how it works or start a free trial to see it in action.


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