The security industry continues to innovate with new and improved offerings, enhanced user interface and improved operating efficiencies. However, our process to mitigate false alarms still follows processes developed over a decade ago.

Here’s a typical scenario: A subscriber’s alarm activates at 11 p.m. Our central station dispatcher calls the location, the responsible persons and then police to request services for a door alarm or motion sensor. Law enforcement has been trained that 98 percent of calls for service will be false and will dispatch resources based on current need. Best-case scenario, precious resources are wasted; worst-case scenario, police and customers find a potential crime in progress, putting both in danger.

For 20 years, our industry has worked improve processes, communication and training with customers, and continues to do so. Technology allows us to provide the customer with environmental data for their systems such as video, confirmation of arm/disarm, GPS data of subscriber’s smart phones, and thermostat or lighting usage. Imagine using these data to help our central station dispatcher send law enforcement with a confidence score to help them dispatch appropriate resources safely.

This idea was the subject of a working group of Partnership for Priority Verified Alarm Response (PPVAR), comprised of stakeholders from security providers, law enforcement, public safety communications, and manufacturers. Looking to the marketplace, the group wanted to develop something similar to the crash notification systems used by OnStar, Ford Sync, and others. How could we leverage data to give real-time information to law enforcement and emergency responders? Once the group developed the idea into a project, the group shared it with The Monitoring Association (TMA) to develop the process and standards of measurement. This process has been unique, for all stakeholders are collaborating to ensure they meet all needs to help provide the greatest service to the public.

A standards committee was born and AVS-01 began. Group leaders include Mark McCall, director, global monitoring transformation at STANLEY Security; David Holl, director of public safety at Lower Allen Township (Pennsylvania); and Larry Folsom, vice president of monitoring technologies at ADT. Under their leadership, we have participants from PPVAR, TMA, the 911 community including APCO and NENA, law enforcement, the security industry including UL, and software providers to both law enforcement and central stations.

The AVS-01 TMA standard is working to define scoring to ensure the fastest emergency response to a crime in progress with humans present while ensuring community and officer safety with real-time information to evaluate threats. Traditionally we have only been able to evaluate situational data using video and audio. However, with innovation, we can use other environmental data to determine the probability of a crime in progress. Ideally, we would use algorithm and electronic transmission such as ASAP-PSAP to evaluate data points. For example, an activated residential motion sensor when the alarm panel indicates that the owner’s phone is on premise, and environmental devices are normally on at this time, suggests user error in disarming the system. If the subscriber doesn’t respond to our enhanced call confirmation, we can apprise authorities that it is a high probability of a false alarm.

This standard will help revolutionize the way we dispatch law enforcement and how we interact with our subscribers. “There is no question the strength of this standard is the people that are part of the committee,” said Mark McCall. “The input that we’ve had from public safety has been invaluable. … When you look public safety in the eye and say, ‘Does this help you?’ we have immediate feedback from them.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has proved the need to use technology as we face an ever-changing world. The AVS-01 standard, the result of a partnership between the public safety and security communities, will help define threat levels so we can have consistent dispatch standards and help public safety maximize resources while helping our subscribers be safe and secure.