In 2019, police in Lawrenceville, Georgia (a city outside of Atlanta) responded to 2,473 security system alerts about potential break-ins. All but six of those calls were false alarms. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the high number of false alarms caused the Lawrenceville City Council to start work on an ordinance to cut down on them.
This same scene plays out in cities throughout the country. Although security companies do their best to make contact with a homeowner or one of their emergency contacts before dispatching police, there is often no answer at any of the phone numbers provided. Because police have to verify the reason behind all alarms, this results in time and resources wasted.
A Better Way With rapidSMS
Part of the problem with false security system alarms is that people don’t often pick up phone calls, especially from unfamiliar numbers. When a false alarm is triggered and the call from a monitoring center goes unanswered, police are sent out for no valid reason.
In an effort to cut down on police response to false alarms, we’ve implemented rapidSMS from Rapid Response Monitoring Services, Inc. at our monitoring center to contact customers and/or their emergency contacts via text message. We’ve found that even when people are too busy or unwilling to pick up a phone call, they will generally glance at their phone screen and notice a text message.
How rapidSMS Works
One of the conveniences of home security is having a variety of ways you can interact with your security system and monitoring center. Rather than the old method of going down the list and calling each contact, rapidSMS uses text communication to confirm or cancel a security system alarm. When the alarm is triggered, the monitoring center will text everyone (with a cell number), including the main premise number and backup premise number provided, as well as the emergency contacts listed on the account.
Customers have the ability to opt-out if they don’t want to be notified via text, but if they opt-in, the text window will connect all contacts and allow them to group chat with each other. This gives everyone the opportunity to establish what’s going on (“Was today the day the plumber was coming? I think I armed the alarm and he set it off when he came through the back door!”) or give them the chance to review camera footage to determine if all is well.
If no response is received from the text messages, only then will the monitoring center call the first premise number provided and dispatch police if no one picks up.
Cancel False Alarms
Once you’ve determined the cause of the security system alarm, you’ll have several options to choose from on the text window. One is to simply cancel the false alarm. Click a link on the text window, which will take you to a browser window where you can cancel the alarm. You may be prompted to enter a password before you can successfully cancel it.
If you (or your emergency contacts) determine that authorities should be dispatched, this is also possible from the text window. If you’re in need of emergency help, select help by selecting the emergency dispatch button. You can also let authorities know if you’ll be responding to the scene in person, how long it will take you to arrive there, and how you’ll be arriving (what sort of vehicle or if you’ll be arriving on foot).
Call For Service
If you believe your false alarm was due to an equipment issue or you’re in need of a service technician, you can also request service by contacting the main office via the drop-down menu in the top left-hand corner of the screen. From there, you can opt to send an email or call the office to request service.
In addition to communicating about security system alarms, customers may also receive texts for trouble signals. These include power trouble and low batteries on their alarm panel. Since these types of messages are low priority, residential customers will only receive them between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Our hope is that by giving customers a choice in the way they want to be contacted and by reaching out in a way that more people are likely to respond, rapidSMS will help cut down on false alarms, speeding up call center communication and freeing up police resources.
At ProTech Security, we have a strong history of experience, innovation, and customer service. The ProTech Security Advantage is more than 35 years of service in Northeast Ohio and a strong commitment to providing quality, cost-effective protection for homes, businesses, educational institutions, and government facilities. To see what ProTech Security can do for you, contact us today.