Security truly means everything to central station monitoring providers.

A Brief Guide to Central Station Monitoring

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In banking – as in life – everyone has a job to do. From tellers on the front line to loan officers who manage customer borrowing, all employees play a role in ensuring the success of a financial institution. Security is no exception. Indeed, security and facilities personnel are charged with protecting both people and assets in the branch; however, they simply cannot do it alone – even with state-of-the-art equipment.

Given that more than 3,000 bank robberies occurred in the United States in 2018, according to the most recent statistics available from the FBI, equipment isn't always enough. Cameras and intrusion alarms do work as effective deterrents, however central station monitoring is a critical layer of protection against unauthorized access.

The FDIC mandates that all banks and credit unions contract external central station monitoring for 24/7 alarm surveillance and breach notification. Ultimately, these stations are designed to both report real intrusion incidents and minimize false alarms. The quality of this service is controlled by requiring UL-listing for all central stations. According to Underwriters Laboratories, UL Listed central stations are required to adhere to the regulations in UL 827, the Standard for Central Station Alarm Services, and must demonstrate compliance before becoming UL Listed. They are also monitored via annual audits to help ensure continued compliance.

If you're fairly new to the banking industry, or were just recently promoted to a decision-making position, you may be unfamiliar with the specifics and wonder how to select an appropriate monitoring partner. You won't be able to say that after reading this brief guide to alarm monitoring services and understand how BranchServ can improve your defenses with industry-leading emergency response services.

Why do banks need the right central station monitoring partner?
For the most part, bank robberies are trending in the right direction by declining on a year-over-year basis. As previously referenced, there were 3,033 incidents nationwide in 2018, based on the FBI's figures. That's down from approximately 3,937 in 2017 and 4,251 in 2016.

The fact that such crimes are less common is of course encouraging but given how many days there are in a year, there was still an average of roughly eight bank robberies happening in the United States every day in 2018. Even one is one too many, especially if your FI is the target.

Central station alarm monitoring, as a complement to proper equipment, should help neutralize such threats by ensuring that precise processes are inlaid with the appropriate set of automated alarm alert responses. This is made possible through UL-certified burglar alarm systems and smart detection, which triggers station staff to notify the FI of a breach and alert the relevant authorities when a robbery is underway.

How can having the right centralized control and monitoring hub improve security?
Central station alarm monitoring is indeed your watchtower to review a critical situation as it unfolds, which supports appropriate response. This may mean contacting bank personnel, calling in the authorities or both. True emergencies are dealt with in the moment by trained operators who dispatch the authorities, providing added peace of mind.

Furthermore, central station monitoring is well-suited to vet security failures and intrusion events. Few things are more frustrating – and costly – than false alarms, which often occur due to technical glitches and user error. This leads to a domino effect of distraction and aggravation, as first responders and other emergency personnel are alerted and called to scenes erroneously; meanwhile, call centers dial up home phone numbers that frequently go unanswered, as noted by Security Infowatch. This not only causes confusion and consternation, but saps public resources, and may ultimately wind up costing your facility money if responders send you the bill that insurance frequently does not cover.

Montgomery County, Maryland made headlines when it successfully pushed through its FARS (False Alarm Reporting System) and has been followed by a number of communities nationwide.  Cities especially have become increasingly stringent with heavy false alarm fines.

How is one central station monitoring service different than the next?
As UL listing is a mandate, many might be challenged to distinguish one central station monitoring service from the next. What should you look for? Pay attention to FM listings and industry accolades including those from The Monitoring Association (TMA). And note the details. You may be reassured by a potential partner's reputation or their processes, or both.

Central station monitoring overall is increasingly allowing for greater customization in processes, Security Infowatch reported. This includes how far police and/or fire officials are away from arrival and what vehicle they're driving, such as make and model. It also includes FI notification.

Case in point: BranchServ central station partner Rapid Response has developed an alternative solution to automatic phone calls that too often go unanswered on the bank side. They instead use text messaging through their subscription-based program, called rapidSMS. Through this alternative, subscribers are alerted to a potential break-in, which allows recipients to then call for backup or decline if they have reason to believe the alarm is a false one. Text messages are believed to solicit a faster and more accurate response which can truly save on false alarm dispatches.

Granted, text messages are like phone calls – they may not be answered immediately. Rapid Response therefore pushes the notifications to a number of FI personnel and any one of them can respond thereby cancelling required response from others. The system also gives subscribers a five-minute window to confirm or deny. If that period expires without a reply, first responders are immediately notified about the original alarm.

Nothing is more important than your customers' trust. That's why you can't count on just any central station alarm monitoring provider. However, you can depend on BranchServ. In addition to our state-of-the-art equipment offerings, we have the qualified personnel and tenacious capabilities to offer 24/7 coverage for round-the-clock central station support that won't be beat. Please contact us to learn more.