|ASAP-to-PSAP technology automates communications between alarm monitoring companies & PSAPs and dispatches emergency service|
In April 2015, Cary, N.C., adopted a technology called Automated Secure Alarm Protocol to Public Safety Answering Point (ASAP-to-PSAP), but currently they are among only a handful of emergency 911 call response locales that use ASAP-to-PSAP technology in the United States. Commander Scott Edson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, speaking to a seminar gathering at ISC West, emphasised the importance of rolling out more implementations of ASAP-to-PSAP.
There are 6,500 PSAPs that respond to emergency 911 calls in the United States. They take more than 250 million 911 phone calls per year from the public and from central station alarm monitoring companies. PSAPs then route the information from 911 calls to the right emergency service and then dispatch police or fire services.
ASAP-to-PSAP technology automates the communications between alarm monitoring companies and PSAPs and dispatches the emergency service. The Central Station Alarm Association, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials and Vector Security developed the software technology back in 2009.
So what’s the implementation hold-up? “As always, funding is the issue,” says Ron Lander, CPP, principal with Ultrasafe Security Specialists in Norco, Calif. “The cities don’t want to spend the money. The central stations want to implement it. They say it will reduce personnel needs.”
Replacing central station phone calls with data entered by a central station operator offers three major benefits, according to a PowerPoint presentation developed by Bill Hobgood, project manager with the Richmond, Va., Public Safety Team.
First, it eliminates telephone calls between alarm monitoring companies and PSAPs, which take up time that could be spent with individual 911 callers, who might be in immediate physical danger.
It eliminates the inevitable miscommunications between two human beings talking on the telephone – “Speak up, I can’t hear you.” “Was that Fourth Street or Fifth Street?” “Oh, Fifth Avenue, sorry.” Then there are also communications problems related to language in our increasingly multi-cultural society.
Finally, and perhaps most important, it speeds the processing and response times by crucial minutes. Research shows that an ASAP communication takes 15 seconds or less to dispatch police or fire units. By comparison, a telephone communication takes 1.5 to 3 minutes or more to dispatch units.
Upon implementing ASAP-to-PSAP, there was a 13 percent drop in the number of police alarms handled by telephone
An ASAP application carries out three tasks. It translates data from the alarm monitoring company into a format that the PSAP technology can read and process. Second, it updates the alarm monitoring company on the status of the alarm — message accepted and referred to the right emergency service or rejected for one reason or another.
Finally, an ASAP application provides continuing updates including cancellation notices from the alarm monitoring company, notices that emergency service has been dispatched, notices that emergency responders have arrived at the scene and notices that events have been closed out.
Houston implemented the technology in 2011 and has reaped enormous benefits. According to Bill Hobgood, Houston encompasses 634 square miles, has a population of 2.3 million people and runs the nation’s fourth largest PSAP.
The city receives more than 2,600 police alarms weekly from 43,000 alarm systems monitored by three alarm companies.
Upon implementing ASAP-to-PSAP, there was a 13 percent drop in the number of police alarms handled by telephone. Non-emergency telephone calls declined by 15 percent.
The PSAP estimates that it is saving $1 - $2 million annually.
What about accuracy and response times? Hobgood studied results in his own city of Richmond as well as York County, Va., in the Tidewater region, both of which implemented ASAP-to-PSAP in 2011.
Hobgood’s study found that when the system eliminated call-taker involvement, it eliminated spelling mistakes and accidental transposition of street address numbers. It also eliminated problems related to low-volume headsets and accents.
Those are impressive business and performance improvements, which is driving Commander Edson’s interest in rolling out more implementations.