After the Webinar: Alarm Calls for Service. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters Celia Besore, Carmen Van Voorhis, Jay Hauhn, and Bob Finney answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Alarm Calls for Service: Increasing Accuracy, Efficiency, and Reliability.  Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: How does an ASAP contact a PSAP when they are offline either due to maintenance or for some other situation? And, of course, Jay, if you’d rather have someone else answer that, please feel free to redirect. 

Jay Hauhn: So, we just updated the latest ASAP ANSI protocol.  We put new software spec in there that does what we call a PSAP ping, and it will let central stations know when a PSAP is offline so that they will know that they need to call. The other part of it is there is a methodology, for when a PSAP is going to go offline for maintenance to send a message back to an ASAP e-mail address, and the folks that receive and monitor that e-mail address will send a message back out to all the central stations saying that this PSAP is going to be offline for this duration.  Let me know whether or not that answered your question.


Audience Question:  So, to be clear, it sounds like the latest version of the standard does have the ability to electronically monitor the status of communication, and then alert both sides. If that communication is down or offline, for any reason, is that correct? 

Jay Hauhn: That is correct. It needs to be implemented. The standard is just out so, the CAD providers and the automation providers are going to look at it once we get done the conversion to the Nova platform.  I’m going to start working on that.  Right now, it is done through e-mail if there’s a known outage that you’re going to have. It’s an e-mail notification that is provided. Our monitoring centers do a very good job of when they send a call for service via ASAP and they do not get the acknowledgment that it was received, they have a network set up between them to immediately let all the other monitoring companies know that this PSAP is offline.  That’s kind of the workaround that we’re doing until we implement the new protocol that we just released.


Audience Question: Did you have to provide any additional training to your dispatchers prior to implementation? 

Carmen Van Voorhis: There was some training, but it wasn’t hands-on training. We sent out the training bulletin and PowerPoint that was given to us by our consultant. I want to reiterate, having a consultant was the most amazing part of it, because they pretty much guided you the whole way, held our hand the whole way. But the training was pretty simple. We had some trainers sitting along with dispatchers for, you know, the first couple of weeks, just to make sure that they’ve got it, but thats really it, I think there was, but 1 or 2 things that they had to do, in order to send a message. That was really it, so it wasn’t hard at all.


Audience Question: Can multiple dispatchers jump on the same chat with the alarm company or is it limited to one dispatcher at a time? 

Carmen Van Voorhis: I can take that one. It’s in your incident. So, the messaging component is actually in the incident. So, you type in what it is that you needed, their key holder, you have to use pound sign or hashtag for the younger generation. And then you put it in there and that update is received by alarm companies and vice versa, so anyone who can open the incident can add information or ask a question of the alarm company.


Audience Question: Is there a way for the primary PSAP to forward an ASAP notification to fire and EMS, as a secondary PSAP that doesn’t have access to Nlets?

Bob Finney: Yeah, we’re all on the same CAD system for us, it’s transparent. I don’t have an answer, honestly, if it were the secondary PSAP or you’re transferring the call over and it’s on a separate CAD system. I’m not sure how you could do that.

Jay Hauhn: Yeah, that way, we do not do that. Within our protocols. There is no CAD-to-CAD integration.


Audience Question: But if they happen to be on the same CAD system, then not a problem that would just be handled within the CAD, is that right? 

Bob Finney: That’s how we do it, yes.

Jay Hauhn: Yeah, that’s pretty normal to have secondary PSAPs that are on the same CAD system, ——– the standard ASAP implementation has that.


Audience Question: Do you anticipate TMA seeking to implement any other alarm types such as for medical alert systems? 

Celia Besore: I know that we are looking into it, Jay, also feel free to jump in. We’re looking to expand the type of information that is sent to the PSAP. Do you want to add anything to that, Jay?

Jay Hauhn: We support fire and EMS now.  Because of some of the things that can go wrong with an ambulance call and if monitoring companies do a hard transfer to the PSAP of the voice call from the person calling, that can’t be done through the data exchange. That makes a little bit of a challenge. We do have a lot of PSAPs that do take EMS calls through ASAP.  I believe it is a majority, that allow EMS

Carmen Van Voorhis: Yeah, I’d like to add to that, so we actually do take medical alarm calls via ASAP. But it’s all about your business process on the dispatch end. And so basically, when we receive those alarm calls, in dispatch we created a way for the dispatcher to know that it’s an ASAP call, pretty quickly. And then we try to make contact so that we can EMD it if possible. But with medical alarm calls we send all agencies, we send police, fire, and rescue. So, if we can figure out what it is that’s going on, a person has fallen, or having breathing difficulty, or what not, then we can kind of eliminate sending police and just send an EMS response. But if we cannot contact that individual, then we will, obviously, send everybody.

Jay Hauhn: That’s why you have experts on the line with you.


Audience Question: Can you talk about any of the additional capabilities that you’re expecting with that enhanced specification? 

Jay Hauhn: Sure. I’ll say one of the primary ones is The Monitoring Association is working on a new standard, TMA-AVS-01, which we spoke about in the beginning. Data is everywhere and when your alarm monitoring center receives an alarm activation, there’s a lot of data that’s associated with that alarm activation. So, this standard is going to look at that data for that particular alarm activation. The data is used in terms of determining the severity or the confidence level that there’s an actual crime in progress, or there is not a crime in progress, a probable crime in progress versus an unknown,the difference being a single door contact going off may not be a probable crime in progress. But an alarm system, and more of them have it these days, there are videos when the alarm goes off. The alarm station operator is looking at the video. And if they can see somebody that is doing something nefarious, that is a probable crime in progress or an immediate risk to life and the property. And so that’s going to be a high priority, pretty much a confirmed alarm. The new ASAP protocol, contains the data fields to transmit that alarm score over to the PSAP and then enable the PSAP to, if they want to, pull down all that additional data relative to that alarm activation.  Anything that had to do with officer safety, with situational awareness, they’ll be able to get that information when a PSAP wants it.  All of the capability to do that is included in the new standard also.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Alarm Calls for Service: Increasing Accuracy, Efficiency, and Reliability

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