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Alarms

ECHO: Speed is of the essence

The ECHO (Electronic Call Handling Operations Ltd) initiative was set up by the National Police Chiefs’ Council to meet the needs of policing and alarm industry response to security systems. As it now supports about 200,000 intruder and hold-up alarm systems on police response with Unique Reference Numbers (URNs), Jamie Allam, CEO of the St Albans-based installation company Amthal looks at the impact of ECHO and its significance on the industry.

ECHO, provides virtually instant alarm signalling to police service Control Rooms from approved Alarm Receiving Centres (ARCs), whose trained operators remotely monitor premises protected by intruder and hold-up alarm systems.

Officially launched last year, following extensive development, it intends to speed up how the police can respond to confirmed alarm signals by negating the legacy issues associated with manual call handling. ECHO is now automating police alarm response to homeowners, businesses and Government properties across the Metropolitan Police Service and Essex Police jurisdictional areas.

David Mair, Manager – Security Systems Unit at the Metropolitan Police said: “The ECHO signalling service is without doubt the most significant technological advancement in the handling of intruder and hold-up alarm signals between ARCs and police responder desks.”

The Met and Essex Police are soon to be followed by the Avon & Somerset Police and other forces becoming ECHO-connected. The police service estimates that ECHO increases the speed of ‘blue light’ response to emergencies by up to four minutes. This helps officers to apprehend offenders and provide greater assurance to home and property owners, in parallel potentially saving more lives in critical emergency scenarios where every second counts.

As well as time savings of fast alarm signalling to the police, there is also significant other benefits to ECHO, including accurate incident information and the eliminated potential for human error.

Further, ECHO allows an incident number to be logged for future reference if a follow up is needed. This means all parties have the information on an instant basis. ECHO will also facilitate the sharing of feedback with the ARC and help increase effectiveness of alarms, and avoidance of false alarms which divert blue light resources away from genuine alarms.

Says EMCS in a statement: “The rationale behind the initiative is to improve the quality and speed of the Police response to all alarms with a valid URN. Integration into the ECHO initiative is mandatory for all Alarm Receiving Centres that wish to continue to pass alarms for police response.”

The new scheme will ensure control room operators will verify the alarm and with a click of a button the connection to the Police will be passed directly from Sentinel, the alarm handling software, over the ECHO platform and delivered to wherever the Police Force deem to be the most effective location. The operator will handle all other actions as normal (ie. calling site and key-holders).

From Amthal’s perspective, we are in constant communications with our alarm monitoring centre, East Midlands Central Station (EMCS) and we believe its support of ECHO is a positive step forward to ensure maximum and effective response as required.

As technology progresses, ECHO envisages live streaming video images from premises with activated alarms to the responder through secure networks, again improving outcomes for all concerned.

And there is also potential opportunity to apply ECHO technology to enhance fire alarm transmission and reduce false alarms in areas with critical infrastructures such as care homes and hospitals, increase security for people and property, and improve cost effectiveness of deployment by emergency services.

This can only be a positive for the industry, as we look to provide a common platform that is open to all, addresses the current demands and deliver more efficient, integrated services between security, fire safety and the emergency services.

In summary, our prime focus is always to look out for the security and fire safety of our customers as part of our pledge to ‘protect what’s precious’ at all times.

It can be seen that ECHO offers a range of benefits for all aspects of alarm monitoring and alarm signalling to assist ARCs and their blue light service collaborators, to better manage risk while operating in more efficient and sustainable ways.

For more on ECHO, Amthal will be happy to answer any queries, you may have. Further details can also be found via the ECHO website on www.echo.uk.net.


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