SIS Blog

How to Manage False Alarms in Government

by | Sep 8, 2023

Managing false alarms is a perpetual challenge for government organizations, from federal agencies to local city councils. Because they have such a big impact on resources, government organizations must develop effective strategies for reducing false alarms. Here’s what you need to know about false alarms and how to stop them.

Why the Alarm Over False Alarms? 

As a government security professional, you’ve probably encountered your share of false alarm headaches. From wasted time chasing non-existent threats to wasted resources calling on emergency response teams, false alarms are a drain on valuable time, money, and expertise.

Those are the direct costs of a false alarm. But they can undermine your security operations in more insidious ways, because frequent false alarms can make your security team less vigilant, more complacent, and slower to respond to potential threats. If they’re always running to the rescue when your alarms cry “wolf!”…well, you can imagine what starts happening on the third, fifth, and hundredth time they go off. 

The true damage false alarms wreak is that they leave you less prepared for actual threats–or even prevent you from addressing real security challenges because your team is still dealing with the false ones.

What Triggers False Alarms?

Part of stopping false alarms is understanding all the ways they get triggered. Often, stormy weather conditions like lightning, thunder, and high winds can trigger a false alarm, as well as moving objects that aren’t an actual threat (like animals, tree branches, vehicles, etc.). False alarms can also be caused by fluctuations in the power supply, like power outages, interruptions, surges, and even low batteries. Finally, simple human error is often a factor.

How Can Physical Measures Prevent False Alarms?

To minimize these false alarm risks, it’s a good idea to do regular maintenance on all of your equipment. For example, doors and windows should be well-fitted, and any loose alarm contacts should be replaced. You should also maintain surge suppressors, check and replace batteries on a regular schedule, and ensure you have adequate backup battery power for emergencies. 

Regular inspections can bring your attention to any misaligned sensors or malfunctioning equipment, so you can fix or maintain them to ensure that all your systems function as they should.

Finally, because human error is also a factor in false alarms, organization-wide training can be extremely valuable, and not just for your security team. Appropriate to their level of responsibility, all relevant staff at your organization should be educated on how to use the alarm system and how to disarm it in case of accidental activation.

Can the Right Technology Help Combat False Alarms?

A number of digital tools and new technologies can stop false alarms by helping you verify their authenticity before initiating emergency protocols.

There are a few ways you can tap into this technology. First, multiple sensors can be used to corroborate the presence of a true threat. A number of advanced sensors, working together, can help you look at motion patterns, heat signatures, audio, and video to get a full picture of the threat landscape. These sensors can also help provide valuable context, accounting for factors like rain, wind, or hail that might otherwise trigger an alarm. Weather sensors, for example, can help filter out movements caused by outside conditions, so you can focus on true threats only.

If you opt to use multiple sensors for a 360-degree view of your security, it’s essential to use a software solution that can integrate all of that sensor data and bring it together in a single dashboard. The right security software can help you integrate and understand the data coming from a variety of advanced sensors–and even your other systems–so you can separate benign events from genuine security breaches.

What About AI?

AI-enhanced technologies are another powerful defense against false alarms. For example, AI-enhanced video can help to discern real from false threats, and help you verify the authenticity of an alarm. AI tools can analyze video feeds to detect, identify, and track everything from people to vehicles moving through a frame, and determine whether a security response is required. 

Not only can AI tools differentiate between human activity and benign movement (like a passing animal), facial recognition technology can further help by identifying suspicious individuals based on your predefined watchlists, and alert you as appropriate.

You can also use AI-powered behavior analytics to recognize normal behavior patterns across your organization, triggering alerts when the system detects a deviation from those patterns. This type of technology sifts through thousands of harmless everyday activities to spotlight any unusual or abnormal behavior.

What Software Is Available to Help Federal Agencies Reduce False Alarms?

The best security management software will work in tandem with all the technologies mentioned above to give you a comprehensive overview of your security at any point in time. This software should make it easy to integrate data from multiple sensors and systems into a unified dashboard, so you can quickly see whether a threat is authentic.

But government agencies need to be more careful than commercial or private entities when they purchase this type of software. It is crucial that your chosen solution be approved for government use, especially because foreign-made technology is as easily accessible as it is potentially risky. (This is why U.S. government agencies have been forbidden from using specific foreign tech.) If you aren’t careful about the technologies you source, you could be putting national security at risk without even knowing it.

That’s where SIS Alarm Center software can help. Not only does Alarm Center seamlessly integrate your security signals, bringing them together in one dashboard, it’s already approved and trusted by a number of government agencies. 

Alarm Center has an Authority to Operate (ATO) on U.S. government networks and supports federal and military agencies like the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Department of State.

As a government partner of choice, Alarm Center is the preferred alarm monitoring and integration software solution for high-security government entities, passing stringent testing requirements like the Department of Defense Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP). 

Contact us today to see how Alarm Center can strengthen and streamline your security operations–and help prevent false alarms–so you can focus on what you do best.

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