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 Download PDF version

Author profile

Michael Fickes End User Correspondent, SecurityInformed.com

In case you missed it

How Thermal Technologies Improve Facility Security And Workforce Safety
How Thermal Technologies Improve Facility Security And Workforce Safety

Blind spots in surveillance coverage, incompatible video and access control systems, lack of adequate perimeter measures—these are common issues that facility directors must address with their security teams. At the end of the day, facility executives need technology that accomplish more with less—that expand situational awareness, overall system functionality, and real-time response capabilities while generating cost-savings. By leveraging technology like thermal imaging, this is possible. Security directors who want to improve facility management—specifically 24/7 monitoring for heightened security and elevated skin temperature frontline screening for entry control—should consider incorporating thermal cameras into their next security upgrade or new installation project.  Levelling up your security with thermal By using thermal security cameras, facility directors can better protect their property and tenants from external threats. Backed by decades of successful deployment in the government and defense sector for reconnaissance, thermal imaging is a trusted technology. New innovations have expanded the use cases for thermal cameras and made them widely available to commercial and industrial facilities. Today, corporate offices, manufacturing plants and healthcare campuses all use thermal cameras as a core component of their security strategy. All use thermal cameras as a core component of their security strategy Thermal security cameras perform in adverse conditions where standard surveillance cameras cannot. Visual cameras require a light source, and thus, additional infrastructure, to produce an image. If there’s no light, there’s no video. Because thermal cameras measure infrared radiation, or heat, they do not need illumination to produce imagery. In fact, thermal cameras can see in total darkness as well as in rain, smoke, and light fog. They truly enable 24/7 surveillance. Enhancing video analytics Further, thermal cameras yield high-contrast imagery, which not only enhances video analytics performance, but also situational awareness. For example, a security operator viewing a thermal camera feed can easily spot a trespasser attempting to camouflage in the foliage at night by alerting the operator of body heat on premise. Thermal cameras also enable alarm validation. While motion sensors, laser detectors and fiber optic cables need another technology to visually verify the alert, thermal cameras already provide this function. With onboard analytics, thermal cameras detect objects, classify whether it’s a human, animal or vehicle, and provide video clips for remote operators to assess the alert. Consequently, thermal cameras minimise unnecessary dispatch of guards or police for false positives, saving valuable time, money and resource for facilities. In the event of a true alarm, thermal cameras enable superior suspect tracking. Upon receiving an intrusion alert, a long-range pan-tilt thermal camera can widely monitor the area and scan the property. The camera can then follow the movements of an intruder, and if equipped with both thermal and optical sensors, provide both thermal and color video of the person. With this data, a security officer can ascertain the threat level and determine whether the person is an employee who forgot their ID or an unauthorised person trespassing on private property. It is important to note that thermal cameras cannot detect a specific individual or their personal information, rather they classify whether the object is a human and then further analysis is required through of the use of visual cameras for identification.  For these reasons, facility directors, especially those managing large campuses or properties, should consider deploying thermal cameras to maximize their intrusion detection capabilities for stronger overall security. Thermal cameras maximize intrusion detection capabilities Streamlining entry control with temperature screening Facility executives can also improve their access and entry control security procedures by using radiometric thermal cameras for temperature screening. COVID-19, classified as a global pandemic in March 2020, has permanently changed how facility directors build security and environmental, health and safety (EHS) plans. Now, facility directors are prioritising protocols and technologies that minimise both the risk of exposure as well as the spread of infectious diseases among employees, visitors and contractors. Temperature checks have become one of the most widely adopted as a key component of frontline screening practices across facilities. In fact, General Motors plants and the Pentagon Visiting Center are notable examples of critical facilities deploying radiometric thermal cameras for skin temperature screening.  Radiometric thermal cameras for skin temperature screenings allow for a non-contact, frontline diagnostic tool that enables high throughput. These thermal cameras specifically measure skin surface temperature at the inner corner of the eye, the region medially adjacent to the inner canthus, which is known to be the best measurement spot. The most reliable thermal cameras yield accuracies of ±0.3°C (0.5°F) over a temperature measurement range of 15°C to 45°C (59°F to 113°F).  Available in a handheld, tripod-mounted or fixed-mount form factor, elevated skin temperature thermal cameras are deployed inside entryways, immediately screening people as they walk into the facility. These cameras scan a person up to one to two meters (or three to six feet) away. Premium thermal cameras can scan individuals in two seconds or less. Premium thermal cameras can scan individuals in two seconds or less Thermal cameras are intended for use as an adjunct to clinical procedures in the screening of skin surface temperature. Upon detection of an elevated skin temperature, a person must then undergo a secondary screening where a medical device can determine whether the person has an actual fever or should partake in virus specific testing. By implementing these screening procedures, facility directors ensure a faster, non-invasive method to quickly detect possible signs of infection before an individual enters a populous area. This minimizes the risk of communal spread of viruses among employees in the workplace, which ultimately increases workforce health, safety and peace of mind. Today, a total security solution designed to detect both physical threats as well as environmental and health hazards is one that includes thermal cameras for elevated skin temperature screening. Facility managers can strengthen their risk management plans by proactively expanding their security systems to include these solutions. Many physical security solutions are already in place at key entry points as well as additional checkpoints, such as indoor surveillance cameras, visitor management and access control. Implementing screening stations with specific radiometric thermal cameras is a logical integration at these locations. Choosing the right solution for your facility While thermal cameras for perimeter protection and elevated skin temperature screening are valuable components to the overall security system, facility directors need to know that not all thermal is created equal. Thermal cameras need to be carefully researched and evaluated before deployment. Here are a few best practices for choosing the right thermal camera for your facility and application. Define your application: A thermal camera made for long-range perimeter monitoring functions differently than a thermal camera built for elevated skin temperature screening. Make sure to choose a camera designed for your specific use case. Know the distinguishing characteristics: Be aware of which technological features separate high-performing cameras from low-end options. For perimeter thermal cameras, resolution, detection range and integration capabilities matter. For elevated skin temperature screening cameras, resolution, sensitivity, accuracy and stability are critical. Check for certifications: Select a thermal camera with proven interoperability. Consider one that is ONVIF-compliant to ensure integration with the overall security system and chosen video management software. Additionally, for elevated skin temperature cameras, consider one that has a 510(k) filing (K033967) with the U.S. Federal and Drug Administration as well as one that supports other screening standards such as ISO/TR 13154:2017 and IEC 80601-2-59:2017. Work with experienced partners: Work with a system integrator who is knowledgeable in thermal. Choose thermal cameras from manufacturers with a solid track record of success for both security and elevated skin temperature screening deployments. Leverage guidebooks, site planning tools and online trainings that these experienced manufacturers have to offer to maximize performance.

Pandemic-proofing your Proptech Stack to Address Top Safety Concerns
Pandemic-proofing your Proptech Stack to Address Top Safety Concerns

A recent survey compared how employees, tenants, property owners and managers, and developers feel about returning to the workplace, and what would make them feel safer. Among the responses from employees and tenants, 63% don’t feel comfortable returning to work, and cited their own health and safety, as well as the safety of their loved ones, as the main cause for concern. However, 73% of business owners said they plan on reopening as soon as possible, within 2-4 weeks. How can we fix the disconnect, and ensure that property owners are creating safer, healthier workspaces for returning tenants?  With the right tools and strategies in place, businesses can return to work with confidence. As it turns out, decision makers are prepared to budget for safety precautions as well; whether it’s providing PPE for employees, or upgrading building systems, 51% of owners are increasing their security and safety spend in response to the pandemic. Innovative technology is helping businesses find ways to accommodate new health guidelines, as well as give tenants peace of mind as they return to the workplace.  Tenant and employee concerns 79% of people saying they’d be more willing to return to work with reduced occupancy In addressing top tenant and employee concerns, many businesses are pivoting to staggered work schedules. This is a good starting point for accommodating the CDC workplace guidelines for social distancing, as it helps minimize the number of people in the building. In fact, social distancing was the top-requested safety update requested by employees and tenants, with 79% of people saying they’d be more willing to return to work with reduced occupancy.  However, with 80% of businesses maintaining or decreasing their current building size, minimizing the number of people at work can be challenging, especially if you’re managing your facility remotely. Occupancy management tools, such as density counters, people sensors, and presence reporting data, can help administrators track who is at the building and when. Plus, with more data at your disposal, you can make informed decisions about space utilization throughout the building, whether to reopen amenities like gyms and cafeterias, and adjust work schedules to accommodate capacity thresholds. To further streamline the process, you can enforce capacity thresholds by connecting occupancy tools to your access control system. Associating work schedules with access credentials ensures that only those scheduled for the day will be able to enter the space. Accessing the workplace Which brings us to the next piece of the return-to-work puzzle: how people are accessing the workplace. “The reality is that people don’t want to touch things anymore; it’s just too stressful,” says Openpath President James Segil, “Removing the communal touch points is key to making people feel safer, which is why you’ll see so many tech companies pivoting to touchless capabilities.” And yet, only 25% of decision makers have implemented touchless solutions. Mobile credentials were already growing in popularity for their convenience and ease of use prior to the pandemic. In fact, 62% of survey respondents would prefer to use their phone to enter the workplace. Now, touchless access control options can also eliminate the need to touch a common reader or door handle. Plus, with a cloud-based access control solution, all those mobile credentials are managed remotely, which helps accommodate a remote workforce and eliminates the need to meet in person to issue a badge. When even opening the front door induces anxiety, touchless access makes it one less thing to worry about.  Healthcare questionnaires In addition to limiting who has access to the building, many businesses are now requiring employees and visitors to complete health questionnaires prior to coming into the workplace. Take the burden off your administrative staff by using tenant and visitor platforms like Envoy Protect, which offer digital access requests, check-in, and amenity reservations. Using a mobile platform to create, distribute, and manage health questionnaires is a smart way to streamline your operations, plus it gives you more visibility into who is in your building and when. 45% of commercial landlords and business owners admit security is one of the biggest challenges During the pandemic, 45% of commercial landlords and business owners admit security is one of the biggest challenges they’re facing. Approach technology updates with a smart strategy to maximize the safety and security benefits: start with the most impactful areas first, such as the front door. A mobile access control solution like Openpath that offers built-in occupancy tracking capabilities can help automate and enforce social distancing measures while still ensuring the security of your space. As a best practice, open systems allow for seamless integrations to strengthen your security. For example, integrating Cisco Meraki’s video surveillance platform with access control enables remote security management by associating real-time footage with access events.  Prioritising safety and security is key to addressing the concerns of returning tenants and employees as workplaces reopen. Because business owners are faced with tough decisions on which updates will prove to be sound investments, it’s important to consider technology that does more than solve immediate problems. Future-proof systems enable safer reopening now, and are also primed to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Integrated proptech tools are allowing businesses to make smarter decisions and create safer, healthier workspaces for the post-pandemic world.

ISC West Virtual Session Highlights Promise of OSDP to Replace Wiegand
ISC West Virtual Session Highlights Promise of OSDP to Replace Wiegand

John Wiegand died in 1986, but the communications protocol that bears his name is still alive and well, connecting access control readers to controllers using two wires – one to transmit “zeros” and the other to transmit “ones.” The Wiegand protocol persists despite its limitations, including one-way communication, lack of encryption, and inability to manage the readers in a system centrally. In a Wiegand system, a controller provides no acknowledgement that data has been received. Systems that still use the Wiegand protocol are performing below accepted industry standards and are vulnerable to over-the-counter exploits. A session at ISC West’s Virtual Event highlighted a replacement technology that solves those problems and expands the security, flexibility and functionality of systems. The technology is called OSDP (Open Supervised Device Protocol), which is now a standard managed by the Security Industry Association (SIA) and designated as an international standard by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC 60839-11-5).   Aligning three components OSDP requires alignment of three critical components – the access control system, readers and controllers. The access control system, readers and controllers OSDP is an RS-485 protocol used to pass card format data from the reader to the controller. Like the Wiegand protocol, it uses two wires, but in this case one wire transmits data and the other receives data. Installation is simplified because no system needs more than four wires – two for OSDP communication and two more for power. In contrast, using Wiegand, additional wires are needed to add other capabilities – up to 8 or more wires in all. OSDP cable runs can extend up to 4,000 ft (compared to 500 feet for Wiegand). Resolving problems Therefore, unlike Wiegand, OSDP sends information in both directions and provides “supervision” of the readers. If there is a problem with a reader, such as a reader communication error or disconnect, that notification is sent back to the access control management system. OSDP also supports encryption for greater security, in effect enabling end-to-end encryption for a host system, controller, I/O modules, readers and credentials. That notification is sent back to the access control management system OSDP also provides additional capabilities, such as control of a reader’s LED and buzzer as well as sending text notifications and messages to compatible displays. Integrators and/or end users can also push configuration and firmware updates to readers all at once. Because OSDP is “open,” there are more third-party integrations and standardizations. OSDP is particularly valuable for U.S. government applications because it meets federal access control requirements such as PKI for FICAM. Wiring requirements Best practice dictates rewiring a project using RS-485 cabling. Specific wiring requirements are needed for OSDP, including 24 gauge (AWG) stranded cables that are a shielded twisted pair with 120 Ohm impedance and overall lower capacitance. However, especially for shorter cable runs, existing wire from Wiegand installations can sometimes suffice, say if it is a cable run of less than 100 ft. Installers should prove their competency before being deployed to an outside installation “Installation of OSDP is not hard, just different than field technicians are used to deploying,” said Tony Diodato of Cypress Integration Solutions, one of the ISC West presenters. Therefore, training of technicians is paramount, and installers should prove their competency before being deployed to an outside installation in order to avoid problems. Integrators or installing teams should have a “lab” setup to thoroughly familiarise themselves with installation to ensure successful deployments.   Various in-line devices are available to help transition existing Wiegand applications to OSDP, even if one component or other does not support OSDP. For example, data converters enable installation of an OSDP reader with a legacy Wiegand control panel. Replacing existing devices in legacy Wiegand systems with OSDP devices and using data converters can provide some benefits of OSDP without requiring a full “rip-and-replace” installation.