Commander Scott Edson of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, at ISC West seminar, emphasised importance of rolling out more implementations of ASAP-to-PSAP
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, emphasized the importance of rolling out more implementations of ASAP-to-PSAP.

The technology benefits residential and commercial alarm monitoring companies and their customers by eliminating dispatching errors and speeding dispatching times.

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.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

Michael Fickes End User Correspondent,

In case you missed it

COVID-19 Worries Boost Prospects Of Touchless Biometric Systems
COVID-19 Worries Boost Prospects Of Touchless Biometric Systems

Spread of the novel coronavirus has jolted awareness of hygiene as it relates to touching surfaces such as keypads. No longer in favor are contact-based modalities including use of personal identification numbers (PINs) and keypads, and the shift has been sudden and long-term. Both customers and manufacturers were taken by surprise by this aspect of the virus’s impact and are therefore scrambling for solutions. Immediate impact of the change includes suspension of time and attendance systems that are touch-based. Some two-factor authentication systems are being downgraded to RFID-only, abandoning the keypad and/or biometric components that contributed to higher security, but are now unacceptable because they involve touching. Touchless biometric systems in demand The trend has translated into a sharp decline in purchase of touch modality and a sharp increase in the demand for touchless systems, says Alex Zarrabi, President of Touchless Biometrics Systems (TBS). Biometrics solutions are being affected unequally, depending on whether they involve touch sensing, he says. Spread of the novel coronavirus has jolted awareness of hygiene as it relates to touching surfaces such as keypads “Users do not want to touch anything anymore,” says Zarrabi. “From our company’s experience, we see it as a huge catalyst for touchless suppliers. We have projects being accelerated for touchless demand and have closed a number of large contracts very fast. I’m sure it’s true for anyone who is supplying touchless solutions.” Biometric systems are also seeing the addition of thermal sensors to measure body temperature in addition to the other sensors driving the system. Fingerscans and hybrid face systems TBS offers 2D and 3D systems, including both fingerscans and hybrid face/iris systems to provide touchless identification at access control points. Contactless and hygienic, the 2D Eye system is a hybrid system that combines the convenience of facial technology with the higher security of iris recognition. The system recognises the face and then detects the iris from the face image and zeros in to scan the iris. The user experiences the system as any other face recognition system. The facial aspect quickens the process, and the iris scan heightens accuracy. TBS also offers the 2D Eye Thermo system that combines face, iris and temperature measurement using a thermal sensor module. TBS's 2D Eye Thermo system combines face, iris and temperature measurement using a thermal sensor module Another TBS system is a 3D Touchless Fingerscan system that provides accuracy and tolerance, anti-spoofing, and is resilient to water, oil, dust and dirt. The 2D+ Multispectral for fingerprints combines 2D sensing with “multispectral” subsurface identification, which is resilient to contaminants and can read fingerprints that are oily, wet, dry or damaged – or even through a latex glove. In addition, the 3D+ system by TBS provides frictionless, no-contact readings even for people going through the system in a queue. The system fills the market gap for consent-based true on-the-fly systems, says Zarrabi. The system captures properties of the hand and has applications in the COVID environment, he says. The higher accuracy and security ratings are suitable for critical infrastructure applications, and there is no contact; the system is fully hygienic. Integration with access control systems Integration of TBS biometrics with a variety of third-party access control systems is easy. A “middleware” subsystem is connected to the network. Readers are connected to the subsystem and also to the corporate access control system. An interface with the TBS subsystem coordinates with the access control system. For example, a thermal camera used as part of the biometric reader can override the green light of the access control system if a high temperature (suggesting COVID-19 infection, for example) is detected. The enrollment process is convenient and flexible and can occur at an enrollment station or at an administration desk. Remote enrollment can also be accomplished using images from a CCTV camera. All templates are encrypted. Remotely enrolled employees can have access to any location they need within minutes. The 3D+ system by TBS provides frictionless, no-contact readings even for people going through the system in a queue Although there are other touchless technologies available, they cannot effectively replace biometrics, says Zarrabi. For example, a centrally managed system that uses a Bluetooth signal from a smart phone could provide convenience, is “touchless,” and could suffice for some sites. However, the system only confirms the presence and “identity” of a smart phone – not the person who should be carrying it. “There has been a lot of curiosity about touchless, but this change is strong, and there is fear of a possible second wave of COVID-19 or a return in two or three years,” says Zarrabi. “We really are seeing customers seriously shifting to touchless.”

How To Use Threat Intelligence Data To Manage Security In The Age Of COVID-19
How To Use Threat Intelligence Data To Manage Security In The Age Of COVID-19

COVID-19 has already had a huge impact on the global economy. According to Statista, GDP growth globally will drop from around 3% to 2.4% - equivalent to a drop of around $35 trillion worldwide. In sectors like oil and gas, the impact is particularly acute: IHS Markit predicted that the reduction in oil consumption due to COVID-19 has led to a first-half surplus of 1.8 billion barrels of crude oil. The macroeconomic trends around these worldwide sectors point to harsher economic conditions and recession. For companies in the oil and gas sector running complex operations around the world, this will lead directly to tougher trading environments and a lot of necessary belt-tightening when it comes to costs around operations. Indirectly, the potential recession could cause more civil unrest and security threats for them as well. To cope with these potential challenges, companies will have to look at how they can maintain security for their operations and prevent risks as much as possible. Taking a contextual approach to physical security With these two goals in mind, looking at threat intelligence data should be considered. Threat intelligence refers to a set of data that can be used to judge current and future trends around risks, from everyday crime or political changes through to larger events like civil unrest, terrorism or the current pandemic. Based on data around these issues, companies can make better decisions on how they invest and manage their security posture in advance. Behind this overall approach, however, there are a significant number of moving parts that have to be considered. This includes where the data comes from, how it is used, and who is using the data. Companies can make better decisions on how they invest and manage their security posture The first consideration for threat intelligence is where data comes from. Typically, companies with large oilfields or refinery operations will have large investments in physical security to protect these environments, and part of this spend will include intelligence on local market, political and security conditions. Using this forecast data, your security leadership team can ensure that they have the right resources available in advance of any particular problem. This data can come from multiple sources, from social media data and crowdsourced information through to government, police and private company feeds. This mass of information can then be used to inform your planning and decision making around security, and how best to respond. However, one issue for oil and gas companies with distributed operations is how much data they have to manage over time. With so many potential sources of information all feeding back in real time, it’s hard to make sense of what comes in. Similarly, companies with international teams may have different sets and sources of data available to different parts of their organizations - while each team has its own view of what is going on, they may be missing out on contextual data from other sources held by neighbouring teams or by the central security department. Without a complete picture, it is easy to miss out on important information. Making threat intelligence smarter To solve this problem - and to reduce the costs around managing threat intelligence data - centralizing your approach can make it easier to provide that context to all your teams and stakeholders. Rather than letting each team set up and run their own threat intelligence approach, centralizing the data and letting each team use this can reduce costs. More importantly, it can improve the quality of your threat intelligence approach overall. By applying a combination of algorithms and security analysts to evaluate threat intelligence centrally, you can improve the quality of the data that you have coming into the organization in the first place. This approach provides higher quality data for decision making. However, a centralized approach is not enough on its own. Local knowledge and analysis is always useful. Consequently, alongside any centralization approach you have to have better filtering and search capabilities, otherwise you risk teams not being able to get the information that is particularly relevant and timely to them. This approach of bringing together centralized management of data feeds with more powerful tools for local teams to find what they want and get that access in real time represents the best of both worlds. Planning ahead Scenarios vary from a best case return to pre-crisis revenues of $50 to $60 per barrel by 2021 or 2022 According to consultancy firm McKinsey, the oil and gas sector faces an enormous challenge over the next few years. Scenarios vary from a best case return to pre-crisis revenues of $50 to $60 per barrel by 2021 or 2022, through to a worst case scenario where demand never returns and the industry has to undertake managed decline around some assets and look for new market opportunities in others. Whatever scenario plays out in the real world, security for existing assets will be a continued requirement. Planning ahead using threat intelligence data will be essential whatever happens. To help reduce costs and improve data quality, centralizing this approach will help. Without this mix of global oversight and local detail, companies will find their operations hampered and wrong decisions are made. It’s only by applying threat intelligence data in the right context that security teams will be able to keep up with the challenges of the future.

What Are the Security Challenges of the Oil and Gas Market?
What Are the Security Challenges of the Oil and Gas Market?

Protecting the oil and gas market is key to a thriving economy. The list of security challenges for oil and gas requires the best technology solutions our industry has to offer, from physical barriers to video systems to cybersecurity. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the security challenges of the oil and gas market?