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The industry has reason to be proud of the false alarm rate

I  like to say that our industry has won the battle against false alarms. Let’s look at the facts.


December 9, 2014
By JF Champagne

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Infrared motion detectors and glassbreak detectors have benefited from technological advances, greatly improving their capacity to reduce the incidence of false detection. Alarm panel manufacturers have adopted the CP-01 industry standard which enabled product features and programming design aimed solely at reducing false alarms. Monitoring stations are also levering better automation software and dispatch processes including enhanced call verification. And I am convinced that we have become better at training end users on the operation of their security systems.

Ask your local municipality how many false dispatches they had in the last year. I’ll bet it is less than previous years, despite the fact that the number of installed systems continues to grow.

Manufacturers, dealers and monitoring stations are doing their part. CANASA is one of four industry associations that founded the Security Industry Alarm Coalition in 2002 to advocate on behalf of the industry on alarm management issues. But all our efforts and successes are not enough in the face of the paradigm shift that continues to affect the funding of local and regional governments. I believe that the cost of policing has passed a breaking point. Most of the costs of policing are tied to salary and benefits which are secured through collective agreements and provincial guidelines for the minimum number of police officers, leaving no room to play.

SIAC’s executive director Stan Martin recently noted a resurgence of activity from various municipalities across Canada and the U.S. In fact, in recent weeks, we have seen activity on alarm management programs in Peel Region, Hamilton and Guelph in Ontario, as well as Quebec City.

I must add that the police culture makes it hard to build relationships and work in a true collaborative environment. I remember a comment I heard at a Canadian Association of Chief of Police meeting: “It’s hard for police departments to collaborate with the private sector when they do not collaborate between themselves!” This explains why we continue to see new rules being imposed without much consultation. It is a lot easier to blame and to fine our members directly for “cost recovery” rather than add new user fees for home and business owners.

I believe chronic offenders are key to the problem, and the solution, for municipalities. They cause much of the drain on resources and can offer a great source of revenues through fines. Let’s not penalize the 90 per cent of alarm users who do not cause false dispatches and allow them to receive service when they need it most. We need our members and front line volunteers to be aware of the issues now more than ever. 

JF Champagne is the executive director of CANASA (www.canasa.org).