CSAA ready to press ahead with ASAP-to-the-PSAP program

New protocol looks to further industry/municipality cooperation
Thursday, June 2, 2011

VIENNA, Va.—The Central Station Alarm Association is preparing to advance a next generation 911 communications program that benefits the security industry, emergency response centers (public safety answering points or PSAPs), and the public with a new protocol initiative.

CSAA is calling the initiative ASAP-to-the-PSAP. ASAP stands for Automated Secure Alarm Protocol and once fully functional will allow central stations to use the Monitoring Station to PSAP Data Exchange Program to deliver a data-slim link to bandwidth-rich multi-media content like video and audio to PSAPs and first responders.

A PSAP is a call center responsible for answering calls to an emergency telephone number for police, firefighting, and ambulance services. Trained telephone operators at the PSAP are usually responsible for answering calls from central stations and end users. PSAPs dispatch the appropriate emergency services.

Keith Jentoft, president of Videofied event-based video solution provider RSI Video Technologies, says the protocol is big step forward.

"There is a real sense of partnership between the industry and law enforcement," Jentoft said. "`Here's our private industry and our cameras for your use.'"

Jentoft and Teresa Gonzalez, president of San Antonio-based United Central Control, recently visited some of the larger Texas PSAPs to talk about the initiative.

"The San Antonio Police Department communications center manager was more than willing to take this concept of receiving email of video clips or a link to access the video clip and run the idea up to his management team," Gonzalez said. "Keith shared with me that his meetings with Houston, Austin and Dallas were all very positive with similar excited reactions by those he spoke with."

Houston came online with the Monitoring Station to PSAP Data Exchange Program about a month ago and CSAA is currently awaiting comment on the success of the rollout.

CSAA president Ed Bonifas said the idea of the ASAP-to-the-PSAP initiative was simple, and could evolve the central station/PSAP relationship.

"The basic protocol is a page of dispatch information that comes out of our computers and goes directly into the [PSAP] dispatch computers … The central station can park basically anything on a web server and pitch to the PSAP a link to get to that content," Bonifas told Security Systems News. "When shooters start shooting at a school, everyone wants public safety to have access to everything—video from inside the school, access to locked doors, floor plans and building layouts—but the other 364 days of the year, the public wants their privacy. This tool can be a way for the central station to be the trusted key holder that provides access during a set period of emergency."

So what's the next step to instituting industry-wide adoption of the ASAP-to-the-PSAP program?

"The whole URL concept is going to take a little bit of time to work out … There is planned to be CSAA board resolutions to fund and build the server necessary to connect the alarm industry," Bonifas said. "At that time I will be able to lay out how we plan to fund the project as well as how and when alarm companies are able to get involved."