ASAP® Program: No If’s, And’s or Butts

By Ron Walters

This post is a guest editorial that appeared in the March 2015 issue of Northeast/Midwest Sentinel. (View the article online.) Posted with permission of the publisher and author.

It wasn’t a headline or feature story butt it caught my eye. In spite of the perception that the alarm industry is the biggest issue for law enforcement, perhaps we aren’t. After all, the alarm industry’s relationship with Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPS) in our joint attempt to reduce dispatches is well documented.

As reported by Businessweek, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly just announced that our nation’s PSAPS are experiencing 84 million false 9-1-1 calls annually, with 70% coming from cellular phones. To make matters worse, half of these were inadvertent “butt calls”. These calls have become so prevalent because our elected representatives decided that whether a phone was locked or not, it should be 9-1-1 capable. On the surface an honorable mission, but as Sir Isaac Newton said so many years ago, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.

For the last two years our industry has supported the Association of Police Communication Officers (APCO) in fighting the FCC and this same FCC Commissioner from requiring every device that connects to the Internet to be 9-1-1 capable. Really? Can you imagine the impact of every game console being connected to 9-1-1? Heck, you can’t even call a game console back.

If we truly have a common mission with law enforcement then we need to actively support them. That’s what this article is really about.

ASAP-Concept1DThe largest joint project in the history of our relationship is without question the up and coming ASAP to PSAP project. The Automated Secure Alarm Protocol to the Public Sector Answering Point(s) is a direct link between the PSAP and our central stations. Over the last 25 years there have been several attempts to launch similar programs; however, the biggest hurdle was always having direct communications with law enforcements Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) software. For security, no outside source was allowed to directly interface with these CAD programs. Also, if there was ever going to be any such connection it would require that all CAD vendors and all monitoring automation vendors come together to develop compatible software.

So what exactly is the point of ASAP to PSAP?

First and foremost is the “hands off” functionality. This means we can dispatch to the PSAP, and they can receive it, without any human interaction. Also, the dispatch can be canceled in the same fashion. In fact in some communities the alarm dispatch could potentially end up on a computer screen in a patrol car without ever having been read at the PSAP.

On the industry side the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) has not only spearheaded this effort, their members have helped finance it. Influential industry leaders such as Pam Petrow of Vector Security, Ed Bonifas of EDS and Bill Hobgood from the City of Richmond, Virginia have taken the leadership position in ASAP to PSAP and their efforts should be applauded.

ASAP to PSAP is the perfect example of how we work with law enforcement. It is truly a joint effort and promises to have a huge impact on reducing false dispatches. If you are on the monitoring side of our industry you need to contact the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) at

ASAP to PSAP is a monumental step in our relationship with law enforcement. No If’s, And’s or Butt’s about it, whether you are on the installation or monitoring side of the industry, you should follow the link to learn more about this vital program that promises to alter the landscape of police dispatches to alarms.

Ron Walters is a Director of SIAC and is a 35 year veteran of the alarm industry. He can be reached at

Verified Alarms Lead to Priority Response

Attending ISC West this month? Then you have a golden opportunity to learn from law enforcement how verified alarms lead to priority response. 

FreePPVAR 1 Session Sponsored by PPVAR: April 16, 4-6:00 PM 

Sheriffs and police chiefs from across the country come together on a panel hosted by the PPVAR (Partnership for Priority Verified Alarm Response) to share how video verified alarms impact alarm response in their communities.  A key focus will be law enforcement’s perspective on how the PPVAR’s new BEST PRACTICES strengthen the partnership between the “alarm industry” and “law enforcement” to deliver arrests and safer communities – with more RMR and stickier customers.

  • Discover how law enforcement view video verified alarms as a “force multiplier” to help them combat property crime and build public/private partnerships to be more effective in community policing.
  • Better understand how priority response and arrests impact loss control and impact property/casualty insurers.
  • Align your alarm company with leading industry experts as they underscore the benefits and value of video verified alarms from separate and unique perspectives.

Reception following! More information.

Follow Up: Comcast Dropped Signals


Starting late Thursday, March 26, errors began to occur on DACT systems, not only on calls primarily originating from Comcast network customers but also other originator’s networks. These errors started to increase exponentially. The calls were coming from multiple regions across North America. All DACT formats were impacted during this episode. When actually measuring the timing of Contact ID DTMF signals, it appeared the inter-digit spacing was increased to as much as 70 milliseconds. With other formats there appeared to be echo and waveform distortion. Typically in VoIP systems, this is usually indicative of either poor network performance or the use of other than G711 CODEC.

This problem occurred before signals were handed off to affected central stations, so there was little any central station could have done to mitigate this problem, even if it is served by multiple carriers.

Many central stations were overwhelmed with the numbers of calls as panels tried to communicate, then redialing up to 16 times. This has the additional effect of reducing available capacity on incoming lines for other than Comcast customer panels.


Virtually all calls these days are transported by VoIP, somewhere along the way, even if the customer’s panel is connected to a legacy PSTN.

Regarding the issue at hand, this diagram shows how these signals are transported from a customer’s panel beginning with the Comcast network, then ultimately to the central station.


In this instance Comcast calls that were originated from Comcast customers traveled though the Comcast network but are then handed off to an interexchange carrier.  In this case the interexchange carrier was Peerless Networks. Since Comcast uses multiple vendors for this traffic, some Comcast calls would be effected, others would not.  A very high percentage of the calls routed through Peerless seemed to fail.


Several of the national monitoring/alarm companies contacted Comcast at a high level on March 30, and by the morning of March 31 Comcast was able to move the traffic away from Peerless. This, for the most part, slowed down the error rate to manageable levels. Central stations may still be receiving communication troubles messages and other signals as communications start to restore.


We are continuing to follow this issue. AICC has started a project to work with the carriers. But what we really need is evidence. So that we effectively move forward, please complete the AICC DACT Dropped Call Survey.

American Alarm Makes First ASAP Dispatch in New England

On March 22, 2015 at 7:06 p.m., a motion sensor alarm was received from an American Alarm and Communications customer in Richmond, VA. Upon call verification, American Alarm Central Station Operator Bob Goulet used the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) to contact Richmond police and transfer information to the Richmond PSAP. It was the first ASAP dispatch made from a central station in New England.

“After working hard with the CSAA to implement ASAP, we were very excited to put the system into live action,” said Chris Newhook, Central Station Manager at American Alarm. “Our team is trained and ready to react. Bob did an excellent job.”

The alarm came from the Richmond location of a multi-state retail operation headquartered in Massachusetts. American Alarm operates its own dedicated Five Diamond Central Station  and now has ASAP capability in Richmond, Washington D.C. and Tempe, AZ. American Alarm and the CSAA are now working with the City of Boston to implement ASAP as part of the city’s ongoing dispatch center upgrade.

Find out more about ASAP.

Security Incentive Bob Goulet, left, receives a $50 gift card from American Alarm CFO Louis Sampson for making the first dispatch using ASAP.

Central station operator Bob Goulet, left, receives a $50 gift card from American Alarm CFO Louis Sampson for making the first dispatch using ASAP.