This month Simon Banks talks to Richard Solly, Head of Monitoring Services at Southern and Northern Monitoring Services, a leading UK ARC, providing dependable fire, intruder, water and flood detection, asset tracking, temperature monitoring and much more.
What are the biggest challenges facing ARCs today?
Supporting the demand and delivering the right technology are the biggest challenges we face. Southern Monitoring Services (SMS), receive over 12,000 alarms and deal with more than 10,000 calls every day. The sector sees demand continue to grow through increased alarm activity as well as new products and services reaching the market. ARCs need to focus on keeping pace with testing and delivering the right technology and continuously developing and investing, to provide a quality service. At SMS, we have upgraded our datacentre and network infrastructure, expanded our training resource and increased our operational staff, all within the last 12 months. This brings a future ready, high integrity service between two fully staffed ARCs, in Waterlooville and Manchester.
How can ARCs challenge professional competence of emerging technologies, such as Apps signalling alarms direct?
Standards maintain a benchmark to the industry and accredited ARCs help drive standards and service. Self-monitored and direct signalling Apps are a good example of being outside that environment. NPCC evidence indicates these provide a 19% Police response rate, versus accredited ARCs successfully receiving a 99% Police response. Emerging technologies need to be proven competent. It’s about challenging those that aren’t resilient and robust whilst supporting and working with those that are. This year, SMS increased the in-house product testing team and built a secure sandbox environment to develop, review and test revisions of existing technology. It gives us the ability to test new technologies in a safe environment.
Amongst all these new technologies, what can ARCs do to ensure they provide value?
Apps can be useful and have their place, but do not replace a competent, accredited ARC and professional Installer proactively dealing with an alarm. The current URN fee to enable Police Response is a very cost-effective route to enhanced protection. ARCs will need to keep up with innovation in the future, using technology and best practice to provide value to the customer at appropriate pricing. Often, value doesn’t mean being the cheapest. SMS surveyed customers last year to understand what was of real value in monitoring. The results of this survey have led to enhanced product and services including assisted living, temporary monitoring activated by apps, enhanced lone worker services and a bespoke managed services team.
What is the Security Sector doing to support ARCs?
New technology that is effective and robust will help keep people and assets safer. For example, artificial intelligence software is already helping SMS to reduce false activations and assists operational staff to identify and focus on important and urgent events quicker, lowering risk to property and people. ECHO (Electronic Call Handling Operations) will enable signals to be passed from accredited ARCs to the Police, faster and more effectively and will cut out non-accredited ARCs and self-monitored systems with high false activation rates.
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