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False Alarm Management System helps Richardson Eliminate Wasted Time

By Chief Jim Spivey Richardson Police Department

When the Richardson Police Department (RPD) was searching for a company to handle its alarm permit system in 2003, one quickly stood out: PM AM Corporation, a technology company based in Irving.

Company leaders showed a genuine interest in understanding and improving RPD's system, and once the new system went online, results were soon apparent.

Officers were responding to fewer false alarms. Residents and businesses who had repeated false alarms were being charged fines allowed under the city's permit ordinance. And more permits were being registered with the city.

From day one, we were getting far more out of the partnership than we had ever expected, and those results have only improved since then as PM AM has grown its False Alarm Management System.

Dozens of cities have begun using PM AM's service, including those as large as Houston. And as PM AM has grown, its economies of scale have allowed further innovation in the way it manages alarm programs.

Every measure of PM AM's success with the FAMS comes down to three things: Customer service, relationships and data management. There are two basic customers PM AM serves.

First are the cities, which can outsource the responsibility for managing a complex program. They are also given regular -- often daily -- reports from the company of false alarms so data can be better tracked.

Second, and possibly most important, are the residents and businesses who own alarm systems. PM AM offers them a seamless connection between city websites and the PM AM-operated online permit website, giving residents a trusted place to do business online. FAMS also includes online training modules to teach people how to avoid false alarms, which leads to a more effective alarm system. As a result of these efforts, only a handful of complaints about the permit program in Richardson have been filed over the past eight years.

Relationships are also significant. PM AM has built strong relationships with alarm operators and regularly updates its data-bases so it can track when new alarm systems are installed. Company leaders are also in regular contact with police departments they serve so the service can improve over time.

Finally, a key component to PM AM's success is its data management. By focusing on alarm permit programs, PM AM has built a high level of expertise in dealing with something that can be difficult for cities to manage.

The bottom line has been astounding in Richardson.

False alarms are down by 40 percent. Revenue to the city is up significantly. And, most importantly, resources, officers and support staff that had been devoted to handling an ineffective permit program are now able to be redeployed to more critical areas.

Ultimately, that has resulted in a safer city for Richardson's residents.

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