Elite Wins TMA's 2024 Monitoring Technology Marvel Award! (Click here for full details)
Elite Wins TMA's 2024 Monitoring Technology Marvel Award! (Click here for full details)

Remote Guarding Delivers a Knockout Blow to False Alarms

By Scott Goldfine

Ever since businessman Edwin Holmes began selling the first commercial burglar alarm systems more than 150 years ago, false alarms have been the bane of the electronic security industry. As time marched on, and the industry grew by leaps and bounds and technology advanced, nuisance alarms continued to proliferate and represent one of the profession’s overriding obstacles.

As a layperson who had never owned an alarm system, when I entered this industry in 1998, I was oblivious to this blight. However, during my first week (heck, maybe my first day) as senior editor for Security Sales magazine, I quickly learned the false alarm issue was at or near the top of the challenges list. So much so, in fact, that there was a dedicated section of the publication dedicated to it, called False Alarm Forum. A few years later, after I was able to buy my own home in 2003, it only seemed right to have a monitored intrusion system installed. Wouldn’t you know it, in short order, I had Culver City (Calif.) Police showing up for what proved to be false activations. That was pretty embarrassing given my livelihood.

“Here was a groundbreaking solution that not only prevents rather than merely deters crime but does so while 100% eliminating false alarms to law enforcement.”

Through the years, I spent countless hours covering all manner of news, ordinances, technologies and studies related to the false alarm dilemma. Available data showed that as much as 98% of alarms were falsely triggered, with user error most often, but certainly not always, the culprit. Because it was an issue with such deep and far-reaching impact on security systems, services and business, and the reputation of the entire industry to the general public as well as responding law enforcement — along with the potential to increase their endangerment — I became a crusader for the cause.

Among other things, I supported and participated in the Alarm Industry Research and Education Foundation (AIREF), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), Installation Quality (IQ) program, Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), academia research and more. I traveled to manufacturing facilities for updates and demonstrations about the latest developments in false alarm-immune sensors. I also generated two landmark SSI research projects assessing police and sheriffs’ perspectives of the alarm industry and resolving false alarm issues. To help raise awareness, motivate security companies to reduce unwanted alarms and provide workable models for others to emulate, in partnership with SIAC in 2006 I created the Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award.

Although the industry made progress, rates still remained far too high. Through the PDQ program, I became familiar with many of the most proactive providers where it came to effective alarm management. That included Elite Interactive Solutions, the 2020 PDQ award winner whose model was so innovative and its success so impressive that I was eventually compelled to join the company. In a paradigm shift from reactive to proactive security, here was a groundbreaking solution that not only prevents rather than merely deters crime but does so while 100% eliminating false alarms to law enforcement.

“This holy grail is called remote guarding — an offering that revolves around video monitoring and voice-downs, leading-edge noise reduction (alarm filtering), specialized command center agents, and a trusted alliance with law enforcement.”

This holy grail is called remote guarding — an offering that revolves around video monitoring and voice-downs, leading-edge noise reduction (alarm filtering), specialized command center agents, and a trusted alliance with law enforcement. While this formula is theoretically achievable by any practitioner, there is a lot of confusion, murkiness, gray area and even deception surrounding the remote guarding term. There is much more to it, for example, than video or audio monitoring alone, video verification of alarm signals or prerecorded audio warnings.

To that end, I am excited to share that I am working with committees within the Security Industry Association (SIA), The Monitoring Association (TMA) and UL to establish an industry standard by which remote guarding will be defined and guided. In addition to finally putting false alarms behind us, this service moves the industry needle from after-the-fact alerts and evidential information to stopping unlawfulness and serving as a police eyewitness to crimes in progress. These are the kinds of results end users will gladly pay for, and market analysts agree video and the incorporation of AI is where the industry is heading. Remote guarding is the answer, and thanks to it the opportunity in front of us all is monumental.

Elite Interactive Solutions Marketing Director Scott Goldfine is an SSI Industry Hall of Famer who spent 25 years as Security Sales & Integration’s chief editor.

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