DICE Corp Presents Solutions for the Challenges of Remote Working

Register now to attend our next Virtual Product Review (VPR) presented by DICE Corporation, March 26th.

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way many organizations operate for the foreseeable future. As governments and businesses around the world have recommended self-quarantines, social distancing, and office closures, remote working has become a new reality. Operational changes have impacted the alarm industry significantly. Monitoring stations handle thousands of life safety calls and interactions every day and no matter the circumstances, customers rely on operators to respond without interruption. In this presentation, we will explore the importance of establishing a disaster recovery and remote working plan and how you can support your customers when it matters most.

After this presentation, you’ll:

  • Understand the benefits of disaster recovery plans and remote working
  • Understand the necessary steps to implement a disaster recovery and remote working plan
  • Understand how telecom and PBX plays a critical role in remote working

Speakers:

  • Cliff Dice, President and CEO
  • Avi Lupo, Executive Vice President 

Register now to attend this FREE VPR.

Urgent News From UL for Monitoring Centers

UL Statement on Certifications to the US Alarm Monitoring Industry

As developments around the coronavirus COVID-19 continue to evolve, UL has been asked how health risk mitigation techniques might impact Alarm Service Certifications, especially those that involve quarantine, social distancing, work from home, and similar.

At UL, our driving mission is to help create safe living and working conditions for all of our constituencies. This value shapes our Standards and program policies. The emergence of the COVID-19 virus presents a new challenge, but by working together, we can find ways forward.

As in the past, after natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina, superstorm Sandy and others, actions taken to maintain monitoring operations may temporarily be out of sync with the current language of UL827, Central Station Services. In emergency situations like these, know that UL’s primary concern is for the health and safety of your staff and customers. If circumstances prevent you from complying with the written requirements of the Standard for staffing a station, we simply ask that for now, you document your station’s alternate procedure and when it went into/out of practice.

UL is working with industry to develop reasonable guidelines and alternative operating methods for scenarios such as the current COVID-19 outbreak. An initial draft is attached to this statement and will be updated as improvements are identified. These guidelines will eventually form the basis of revisions to UL827 to address pandemic-type scenarios better.

Please note that for US based stations monitoring National Industrial Security System accounts, any deviations from UL827 language need to be discussed with and approved by the relevant US federal security agency with jurisdiction.

UL’s current understanding is that due to the high risk nature of these systems, many Federal Security Agencies will not approve of monitoring outside a UL Certified Central Station operating room. If such monitoring is not available, it is likely defense contractors will have to react in the manner prescribed by the applicable security manual for instances where monitoring is not available or not employed.

At this time, we encourage monitoring stations to make contingency plans for operating in environments where operators are not able to physically come together to monitor signals in a central station operating room. There is a meaningful risk that the rapid spread of COVID-19 could trigger governmental movement and assemble recommendations/controls that would preclude normal station operation.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Steve Schmit, steven.a.schmit@ul.com, 847-420-8032

In the current COVID-19 mitigation environment, central stations may be challenged to operate in strict compliance with UL Standards. UL expects that stations will make every reasonable effort to exercise options available in UL standards. However, in cases where delivering ongoing monitoring services requires alternate procedures, we request that stations document those procedures and be prepared to share them with UL if/when necessary as a basis for maintaining their UL Certification.

As a last resort, some stations may be considering use of home based operators to process signals. Based on input from industry, UL recommends considering the following guidelines.
Note – For US based stations monitoring National Industrial Security System accounts, any deviations from UL827 language need to be discussed with and approved by the relevant US federal security agency with jurisdiction.

UL’s current understanding is that many Federal Security Agencies will not approve of monitoring outside a UL Certified Central Station operating room. If such monitoring is not available, it is likely defense contractors will have to react in the manner prescribed by the applicable security manual for instances where monitoring is not available or not employed.

VIRTUAL WORKPLACE GUIDELINES

These guidelines are designed to provide procedural guidance to operators who perform job duties at alternative work sites, most specifically at home offices. The virtual work arrangement requires remote operators to be self-motivated and work well with minimal supervision. The following guidelines apply to the virtual environment:

  • Virtual workplace operators should be provided with a computer. Home/personal computers shall not be used.
  • Connections between virtual workplace computers and central station automation systems shall be made through a secure, encrypted virtual private network (VPN)
  • Internet speed may be affected by others in a home using the same internet. This may require an virtual workplace operators to suspend use of the internet by other individuals in the home.
  • Multifactor authentication should be required every 24 hours.
  • When not on shift, computer should be in shutdown and put in a secure place. This is to prevent any damage of theft of the computer.
  • When processing alarms the computer should be setup as not to allow others to view the monitoring screen or any other information.
  • When walking away from computer while on shift lock the screen so others cannot gain access to the monitoring window.
  • Virtual workplace operators are expected to have an appropriate workspace that is suitably designated for work and segregated in order to eliminate distraction and noise.
  • Due to the nature of virtual work arrangement, operators may not provide primary care for a child or dependent during the on duty hours except in the case of an emergency. The focus of an operator’s core working hours must remain on job performance and meeting business demands.
  • Virtual workplace operators are advised not to release their home address and telephone number to non-employees of the company.

Download PDFs:

  1. COVID-19 Statement & Guidelines for the Alarm Monitoring Industry in US
  2. COVID-19 Statement & Guidelines for the Alarm Monitoring Industry in Canada

Coronavirus Response Toolkit – U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber has compiled CDC’s coronavirus recommendations for businesses and workers across the country. American businesses are encouraged to follow data-based guidance from the CDC and state and local officials. Visit the link below to find a shareable graphics based on the CDC’s latest guidance for businesses and employees. Share these assets on social media, websites, and other channels, and send them to your colleagues and employees. 

ACCESS THE TOOLKIT

COPS Monitoring Delivers Uninterrupted Services Through Nashville Tornado

In the early morning hours of March 3, 2020, powerful storms ripped through Middle Tennessee spawning tornadoes, killing at least 25 people, and knocking out power and communications to an estimated 45,000 Nashville business and residents. COPS Monitoring shared that monitoring services continued without interruption despite the loss of both power and communications at its Tennessee monitoring center as a result of the Nashville tornado.

“The hearts and prayers of all COPS employees go out to the families impacted by the Nashville tornado,” said COPS President Jim McMullen.” This tragedy is a painful reminder that a catastrophe can strike anywhere, at any time, and without warning.”

Barely a mile outside the path of destruction carved by the tornado, COPS Monitoring’s UL Listed monitoring center in Nashville was spared any physical damage. The site lost electricity and continued to operate on its own Generator power, but it also lost all three carrier-diverse redundant communication paths and the ability to respond to alarms for approximately 9 hours.

However, because COPS operates a network of six monitoring locations consisting of multiple layers of redundant technology and diversified staffing, its ability to provide monitoring services to alarms continued without interruption. “During the unexpected temporary loss of our Tennessee site, alarms and calls continued to be handled by our other five sites,” explained McMullen. “Furthermore, our overall active staff was impacted by less than 16%. We were able to absorb the staffing reduction and increased alarm traffic resulting from the violent weather in the short-term by altering break schedules of people already on shift at our other monitoring centers. In the longer term, we compensated by overstaffing our other sites with additional team members.”

COPS Monitoring began its preparation for redundant monitoring nearly two decades ago in the wake of 9/11. Not just for possibilities like the Tennessee tornado, but also for the countless types of localized conditions that can compromise a central station’s ability to monitor alarms such as earthquakes, flooding, fires, blizzards, hurricanes, a fiber cut, civil unrest, and even outbreaks such as the current coronavirus COVID-19.

“Opening a redundant site was a very small initial step in the right direction,” continued McMullen. “It certainly solved some technological challenges by giving us more than a single place to deliver calls and alarms in the event of a site failure. Unfortunately, operating just two sites did not solve the staffing redundancy needed to maintain quality during a site outage. It’s simple math, really; 50% of your staff can’t handle 100% of your alarm traffic, let alone the additional traffic usually created by extreme circumstances. The fact is, no matter how advanced your technology is, there isn’t any place on the planet to build a monitoring station that isn’t vulnerable to some sort of natural or man-made influences, which is precisely why we mitigate potential outages with redundant technology and by diversifying our staffing across all six of our locations.”

How you can help:

Though the storm is over, the work helping those affected has just begun. If you would like to donate through the Red Cross, you can text Red Cross to 90999 and make a $10 donation. You can also donate online at: https://www.redcross.org/local/tennessee/ways-to-donate.html

TMA Members Among SSI SAMMY Award Finalists

Security Sales and Integration magazine announced the finalists for its 2020 SAMMY Awards, which recognize professionalism in dealer/integrator sales, marketing and installation efforts. The awards program marks its 25th anniversary this year.

Awards will be presented March 17th in Las Vegas.

Please join in congratulating the TMA members that made the list of finalists:

  • Acadian Total Security
    • Installer of the Year  (Large Company)
    • Display Ad
    • Sales Brochure
    • Vehicle Graphic Design
  • ADT Commerical
    • Integrated Installation of the Year (Large Company)
    • Installer of the Year  (Large Company)
    • Overall Integrated Marketing Program (Large Company)
    • Newsletter or Content Marketing
    • Social Media Campaign
    • Vehicle Graphic Design
  • AvantGuard
    • Community Outreach
    • Website Design
  • Custom Alarm
    • Installer of the Year (Small to Midsize Company)
    • Integrated Installation of the Year (Small to Midsize Company)
  • Guardian Protection
    • Promotional Video or Audio
  • Kimberlite (Sonitrol)
    • Integrated Installation of the Year (Large Company)
    • Social Media Campaign
  • Securitas Electronic Security
    • Integrated Installation of the Year (Large Company)
  • STANLEY Security
    • Integrated Installation of the Year (Large Company)
    • Overall Integrated Marketing Program (Large Company)
  • Vector Security
    • Installer of the Year  (Large Company)
    • Overall Integrated Marketing Program (Large Company)
    • Social Media Campaign
    • Website Design
  • Wayne Alarm Systems
    • Promotional Give-Away Item

View the full announcement of finalists.

TMA Releases Seven, Individual Operator Training Modules

TMA is pleased to announce that seven modules from its popular Operator Online Level 1 training program are now available for individual sale. 

The newly released single modules reflect the most current technology capabilities and customer service practices in today’s most effective monitoring centers. 

  • Module 1 – Introduction to the Monitoring Industry
  • Module 2 – Technology
  • Module 3 – Effective Communication
  • Module 4 – The Monitoring Process
  • Module 5 – False Alarm Prevention
  • Module 6 – Industry Readiness and Monitoring Center Security
  • Module 7 – Monitoring Center Operator Code of Excellence

Cost per module: $45 (Nonmember) | $30 (Bulk Member 1-4) | $27 (Bulk Member 5-9) | $24 (Bulk Member 10+)

Visit TMAtraining.org 

TMA Posts Pandemic Preparedness Resources for Members

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is now urging businesses to begin planning for what may evolve into a pandemic, as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) evolves in the United States.

To assist member companies and others in planning for the protection of their business, employees, and customers, TMA has compiled and posted several resources and posted them to our website.  

To stay up-to-date on COVID-19, please visit the CDC website often.

Arlington County, VA Goes Live with ASAP-to-PSAP

The Arlington County VA Emergency Communications Center (ECC) is the 65th ECC in the United States to implement ASAP and the 12th ECC in the Commonwealth of Virginia to implement ASAP.

Arlington County went live on Wednesday, February 12th at 9am EST simultaneously with Rapid Response and Vector Security, then followed by Security Central, Affiliated Monitoring, Alert 360, Richmond Alarm, the National Monitoring Center, Tyco (Johnson Controls), Vivint, Guardian Protection, AT&T Digital Life, and Brinks Home Security. ADT is scheduled to go-live with Arlington on February 18th. 

“In emergency situations seconds count.  The availability of call-takers to answer phones, dispatchers to give and receive critical information over non-congested radio airwaves, and responders to receive key information in the timeliest manner is paramount. It is imperative that emergency communications centers leverage every possible tool to ensure that information that can save lives and property is received and communicated in the most efficient manner possible.  With the implementation of ASAP, the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center has taken a significant step forward in maximizing technology to ensure the best possible customer service for our constituents and providing the best and most current information to our responders.  We are thrilled to be part of the growing community of ASAP users.”  – Dave Mulholland, Administrator, Arlington County Emergency Communications Center.

Learn more about TMA’s ASAP-to-PSAP program.

Registration for TMA’s Annual Meeting is Open

Register now to attend our 2020 Annual Meeting. Set for October 24-28 in Marco Island, FL, this annual event is one that TMA members look forward to taking part in every year. This year, we’ll be celebrating our 70th anniversary.

REGISTER NOW

Look for additional program details as they are confirmed.

If your company is interested in sponsoring this year, please contact John McDonald (meetings@tma.us or (703) 660-4917) for a copy of our 2020 Sponsorship Prospectus.  

Memphis Police Department Onboarded as 64th PSAP

The Memphis TN Police Department Emergency Communications Bureau is the 64th Emergency Communications Center (ECC) in the United States to implement ASAP and the 6th ECC in the state of Tennessee to implement ASAP.

Memphis PD went live on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at 8am CST simultaneously with Vector Security and Rapid Response Monitoring then followed by Affiliated Monitoring, AT&T Digital Life, ADS Security, Alert 360, Guardian Protection, Brinks Home Security, Protection One, Security Central, Tyco (Johnson Controls), and Vivint over the course of the four day period ending on Friday, February 7th. ADT and the National Monitoring Center are expected to go-live with Memphis PD during the upcoming weeks.

“As Emergency and Non-Emergency Call volume increases annually in the City of Memphis, it was important for the Memphis Police Department to look for ways to reduce the number of incoming calls”, said Michael Spencer, Emergency Communications Administrator. “ASAP to PSAP  will reduce the number of voice calls from alarm companies while providing a more efficient and accurate way for us to process alarms in the City of Memphis. It frees up our Emergency Telecommunicators so that they may answer incoming emergency calls faster. We researched this solution and feel confident that it will continue our quest to improve emergency services for the public we faithfully serve.”