The Houston Emergency Center (HEC), the fourth-largest 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) in the United States, has launched a revolutionary communications system that offers an innovative and cost-effective way to process information from alarm monitoring stations needing emergency dispatch.
The revolutionary computer-aided dispatch system (CAD) is based on Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP), a national program that is the result of a partnership between the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International.
HEC is the largest public safety communications agency in the country and the first in the state of Texas to implement ASAP, which is designed to eliminate telephone calls from alarm companies, eliminate miscommunications by alarm company operators, and 911 PSAP call-takers, and reduce 911 processing time by two to three minutes or more.
The ASAP program is expected to save the city of Houston $1 to $2 million annually, according to HEC Director David Cutler.
“As the first major metropolitan city in the nation to use ASAP, this will serve as another tool in our efforts to provide the best possible public safety services available for the citizens of Houston,” said Cutler.
According to Cutler, calls generated via ASAP are more accurate due to the reduction of miscommunication. By processing alarm calls via ASAP, PSAPs can experience significant reductions in these types of calls traditionally handled by phone lines.
“Overall, this will result in more efficient call processing and greatly reduce costs for both the city of Houston and the alarm monitoring stations using the ASAP application. It will help curb the workload of our call takers and allow them to process emergency calls more efficiently,” says Cutler.
For example, Cutler says that two pilot alarm monitoring stations using ASAP now create about 10 percent of all police alarm call events in their CAD system. The service not only resulted in reduction of telephone call volume by 8 to 13 percent, but also brought 10 percent reduction in the number of alarms requiring call-taker intervention.
Ed Bonifas, CSAA president, said, “The Houston implementation of ASAP is the new standard in fostering the public-private partnership between alarm monitoring companies and 9-1-1 PSAPs.”
Houston’s implementation of ASAP was conducted simultaneously as the CSAA being approved as an Nlets Strategic Partner Organization (SPO). Nlets, the International Justice & Public Safety Network, links the majority of the nation’s 6,500 PSAPs to international, federal and state criminal justice and public safety-related databases.
Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf