“Identify yourself immediately!”

Spt_2way_voiceIn this month’s SP&T News (a national security magazine)
I was quoted in a story about the pros and cons of two-way voice alarm systems.
Most people are familiar with the, seemingly, omnipresent Alarmforce radio ads where
they demand that you “identify yourself immediately”. Alarmforce is one of the many companies
who utilize the type of 2-way voice systems discussed in the article.

Given the amount of advertising that Alarmforce does, most
people are aware of, if not annoyed by, the ads… which invariably results in
both clients and prospective clients asking what we think of 2-way voice

As mentioned in previous posts, the 2-way voice technology that Alarmforce
uses is also provided by just about every other alarm company in the world… in
fact, many of the new keypads and alarm system control panels manufactured by
the leading alarm equipment manufacturers like Honeywell, GE and DSC have a
2-way voice capability. All an alarm company needs to do is activate
this function and ensure that the monitoring station is able to handle the
incoming calls. Many of the systems that we install are “two-way voice capable”,
we just elect to not use that particular ‘feature’.

As I mention in the SP&T article, I’m not a fan of using
2-way voice in a burglary detection role. The main reason is that 2-way voice
is simply an alternate form of verification prior to dispatch (ie. rather than
calling you on the phone and requiring you to pick up a handset to confirm that
an alarm is false, the monitoring station operator will just dial and then speak directly through a
speakerphone). The net result is the same, precious minutes are being wasted by
checking with you first before dispatching anyone to respond. As a result, I
believe the 2-way voice feature to be largely a marketing gimmick with limited
real value.

Here is a link to a previous post where I outline the
response procedure at Provident.

However, in the SP&T article, I did point out that I believe
that 2-way voice systems can offer some value in a medical monitoring
scenario. Similar to those old “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials,
using a wall-mounted speaker to speak with a client after they have pressed a
medical panic button is what the technology was originally intended for, and
where I believe it still offers the most value.

For the majority of Provident clients who utilize medical emergency monitoring services, we typically will dispatch both the Paramedics as well as our own response team (to bring the keys to help the Fire Department and Paramedics get inside) as well as call the premises. The only added feature in a 2-way voice capable system is that the client will not have to answer the phone to be able to confirm that they need help… but either way, we are already on the way with keys.

Our medical monitoring service can be completely customized to your specific requirements (for example, whether or not we should dispatch paramedics prior to arriving ourselves is your call). For several clients, we also have some important medical information kept on file so that when a medical alarm is tripped, our operators are prompted with specific and relevant medical information to pass along to Paramedics during the initial dispatch (such as if a pre-existing condition exists and what drugs/treatments should not be used).

So… should you add 2-way voice capability to your system? Probably not. But if you have any specific requirements or concerns such as medical emergency monitoring give us a call to discuss some alternative ways that we can increase the value that your alarm system can offer.

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