Using enhanced call verification? You may need a new alarm monitoring contract.

file000640929717Georgia recently joined the growing ranks of states and municipalities that require enhanced call verification (ECV) for burglar alarm response. (Read Georgia’s new law here:  Georgia ECV law).

If your jurisdiction requires ECV, or you are voluntarily adopting it, do you need to revise your contract?  First, a little more about ECV:   ECV is the practice of having the alarm monitoring company attempt to verify a burglar alarm by calling the site or alarm user, and if that is unsuccessful calling a second person to attempt to verify the alarm, before dispatching the police.   Note that ECV is not used for fire, hold-up or panic alarms.

According to the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), “enhanced call verification is proven to have a dramatic and significant impact on reducing dispatches to invalid alarms.”  To put it simply, dispatching the police for false alarms wastes time and money, and makes the authorities very unhappy with the alarm industry.  For those reasons, SIAC is encouraging an industry-wide move to ECV.

In addition to Georgia, Florida and Tennessee also have state-wide requirements for ECV.  Check out this document prepared by ADT, which is on the SIAC website, for information on other city and municipality requirements (although note it is from November 23, 2011, so isn’t updated with any laws since that date): List AHJ Req.

Now, onto the question I posed above.  If you implement ECV do you need to change your monitoring contract? Maybe.  As usual, that depends on what your contract says.

For example, does your contract explicitly state that in the event of an alarm you will call emergency services, or that you will first call one person on your customer’s contact list?  If so, then, yes, you do need to revise your contract.  But, if your contract generally states that you will first attempt to verify the alarm, then maybe not.

The point is, does your contract say you are going to do something that with ECV you aren’t going to do?   If so, then you need to revise your contract.

If you revise your contract, make sure it is clear that you may call the premises and one or more people on the customer’s call list to verify an alarm before notifying emergency services.

It is also a good idea to notify your customers if you are going to perform enhanced call verification before responding to an alarm.  The SIAC has helpfully produced a form letter for you to use as a template to do so:  Ltr to Customer on Mult Call Verif.

Note, however, that if you must revise your contract, I would not do so by simply sending your customer an amendment, as the SIAC’s form letter suggests–I would revise the entire contract and get the customer to sign it, or at least have the customer sign the amendment.


4 thoughts on “Using enhanced call verification? You may need a new alarm monitoring contract.

  1. Wendy Carlisle Post author

    Thanks for your comment. Whether an auto-renewal will apply depends on the language of the contract and your state’s renewal laws.

  2. Robbie

    FYI, SIAC has updated the AHJ requirements page and the new version is current as of 10-01-2013.

    My experience with ECV is that the alarm companies / central stations do not take ECV seriously. ECV was presented to law enforcement as part of the security industry’s “we will do better” strategy to avoid going to verified response. History shows that the central stations continued dispatching without using ECV and did not keep their promise to use ECV. When this issue was brought up with the alarm companies and the alarm associations they indicated that ECV is voluntary and unless you make it part of the alarm ordinance they do not have to use it. So LE added ECV to the alarm ordinance making it a requirement. The central stations still dispatch LE without using ECV even after ECV was added to an alarm ordinance and it became law.

    The growing trend in video verified alarms has emphasized the importance of using ECV even more since the alarm industry is asking law enforcement for priority dispatch on video verified alarm activations. Priority dispatch results in more LE units responding at a higher rate of speed to what is thought to be a crime in progress. The alarm industry must do a better job of filtering out false alarms before requesting a priority dispatch. Requiring ECV on a video verified alarm event is necessary because most audio and video verified alarms are installed as a silent system. Because the alarm system is silent there is a higher probability that the user related false alarms will not be cancelled by the user because they do not know that they tripped the alarm. Contacting an RP during ECV is an effective tool to reduce the user related alarms from the silent systems.

    The alarm industry ECV default is premises plus one RP. Some LE agencies added premises plus two RP or a three call ECV to their alarm ordinance. The premises plus two RP ECV is necessary because the premises call on commercial accounts is not effective for a variety of reasons. Employees typically do not answer the business phone after hours when the business is closed, third parties (janitors, food delivery, construction crews) do not answer the business phone while working at the premises, the business phone is switched over to an answering machine after hours, the premises phone is not accessible to the employees (only rings at a single desk in the manager, receptionist, owners office), the employee that answers the premises phone is not an alarm user and does not know the passcode. Calling two additional RP numbers during ECV on a commercial account helps improve the chances that a user related false alarm can be avoided.

    Using ECV on residential accounts is changing because some accounts do not have a premises phone because the customers are using personal cell phones. The use of cell phones is both good and bad but that is another story…

  3. Pingback: Is Enhanced Call Verification really a verified alarm? - Redwire

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