ASAP Reduces Call Volume and Decreases 9-1-1 Response Times, Saving Lives

Monday, March 14, 2016

ASAP Reduces Call Volume and Decreases 9-1-1 Response Times, Saving Lives

It’s late at night and a local 9-1-1 dispatcher receives a call from an alarm company to report a burglary in progress in a local home. The dispatcher enters the details into the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, which sends a team of officers to the address to apprehend the suspect. When the officers arrive at the house, something doesn’t look right; there’s no activity to be seen in the house. The house in question is in a rural part of town, so the front door is unlocked and the officers decide to draw their weapons and enter the residence. The only problem is, they are at the wrong location; the dispatcher had mistakenly input the address incorrectly in the CAD system! Imagine the embarrassment for that local law enforcement agency as they had to explain to the frightened homeowner they were simply at the wrong address. Imagine how that scenario could have been much, much worse had the homeowner been armed and reacted out of fear.

IMG_7704(Hi Res)This isn’t just a hypothetical… it’s a situation that has occurred repeatedly in recent years. 9-1-1 calls, even from alarm companies, are susceptible to human error. That’s why in 2005, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International and the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) partnered to develop the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP).
ASAP was developed to provide a standardized data exchange for the electronically transmitted alarm information between an alarm monitoring company and a 9-1-1 dispatcher. In locales that have implemented ASAP, alarm operators know if there’s an ASAP-participating agency. And with a few keystrokes on the alarm operator’s console, all of the data about the alarm event and the alarm system, i.e., alarm type, location, trigger points, permit information, is shared with the 9-1-1 center’s CAD system. The entire alert takes fewer than five seconds. Thus, the telephone calls between the alarm companies and local public safety answering points (PSAPs) is completely removed. Additionally, because the data shared from alarm companies to PSAPs is standardized and automated, it is the most accurate information in a PSAP’s CAD system.

The first ASAP CAD interface was written by Bill Hobgood, a project manager on the public safety team for the City of Richmond, VA’s IT Department. “I was invited to an APCO conference in 2004 to talk about ways we could eliminate the millions of phone calls from alarm companies to PSAPs. Terry Hall, Director of the York County, VA PSAP, and Pam Petrow, now CEO & President of Vector Security, asked if we could automate the process, and I said it was possible. After a brief two-year development period we launched the first pilot,” Bill recalled. Bill’s hometown, Richmond, is now an ASAP operator.

ASAP was first piloted July 2006 in York County, VA and August 2006 in Richmond, VA with Vector Security.  Soon thereafter, James City County, VA became the first of many SunGard Public Sector customers to go live with ASAP. Most recently, Guilford County, NC began using ASAP with its SunGard Public Sector CAD system, as did Boca Raton, FL. Both agencies are anticipating a massive reduction in the number of calls its 9-1-1 operators receive; some estimates from Guilford County suggest the telecommunicators will handle 20,000 fewer calls per year! Across the country, ASAP is operational in more than 13 PSAPs and SunGard Public Sector has helped support the cause; nearly half of these PSAPs – like Boca Raton and Guilford County – are SunGard Public Sector customers using ONESolution CAD. ASAP is thriving in major cities like Houston, TX, Richmond, VA, and Washington, D.C. It’s not just PSAPs who are on board; 8 of the 10 largest alarm companies – including the largest, ADT – are participating in the rollout, with more to join. There’s no doubt that ASAP is the way of the future for PSAPs and alarm companies.

ASAP has become noticeably better since being implemented across the country. Call processing time from alarm company calls typically takes two to three minutes. With the implementation of ASAP, that time is reduced to a few seconds, which means departments can respond to alarms faster and more efficiently, with the certainty that they’re also more accurate.
Subsequently, citizens have seen tremendous benefits from decreased response times, less mistakes and fewer miscommunications.vector 3-10-13-430-resize

They are not the only beneficiaries; 9-1-1 telecommunicators are finding the reduction in call volume allows them to focus on the calls received from their citizens and getting help to the point of need for these potentially more serious or life-threatening calls faster. There have been financial benefits too; in Houston they’ve seen more than $400,000 in savings thanks to a reduced call volume after implementing ASAP.

“One of the main reasons for ASAP’s early success has been our tremendous partnership with SunGard Public Sector,” Hobgood noted. “Not only has integration with SunGard Public Sector’s ONESolution CAD been involved in nearly half of ASAP implementations to-date, they’ve also been evangelists of the system, and helped their own customers realize the benefits of reduced call volume for PSAPs. Thanks to their advocacy, PSAPs across the country are increasingly looking into implementing ASAP in the near future.”

ASAP has been tremendously helpful in reducing telephone calls from alarm companies to 9-1-1 centers, eliminating miscommunications between alarm operators and 9-1-1 dispatchers, and reducing 9-1-1 center processing times to generate enhanced responses from police, fire, and medical responders. SunGard Public Sector is pleased to help agencies like Guilford County, NC integrate ASAP into their existing SunGard CAD system to realize these benefits. For more information on SunGard Public Sector’s ONESolution CAD offering, please click here.

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