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Company News | 12/15/2015

Texting Provides Large Cost Reductions for Alarm Companies

Cell phone use in the American culture has changed rapidly in recent years. The Pew Research Center’s 2015 Smartphone Mobility Report showed large changes as our culture moves to texting rather than talking. Today, over two thirds of all cell phone users in the United States have smartphones and over 90 percent of those users spend over 26 minutes a day texting.

In fact, the report showed that 100 percent of young adults under the age of 30 use their phones for texting. However, the most surprising statistic in this report is that 98 percent of adults from ages 31 to 50 use their phones for texting and that 92 percent of adults over the age of 50 use their phones for texting. The report concludes that most Americans would rather text than receive or make a phone call.

Although the monitoring industry has been built on direct voice communication with clients, the community has changed to texting. For the past 15 years, DICE Corporation has been leading the alarm industry in the area of texting and has seen trends change rapidly.

“We began sending alarm notifications to dealers and end users early in the 1990s, and that has changed in the past 10 years to two-way texting,” said Cliff Dice, CEO of DICE Corporation.

DICE’s two-way texting allows a monitoring center to send their client a text notification of an alarm or event. The client can text back canned responses, such as “cancel” or “dispatch.” No calls are required from the monitoring center or client to manage an event, expediting your communication process at a lower cost.

“In the past we placed cellular modems into monitoring centers, allowing them to send out their texts; however, nowadays there are so many text messages going out and coming in, we have moved to a gateway system,” Dice said.

The advantage of a cellular gateway is that you don’t have to know which carrier the cell phone is on because the gateway automatically sends the text messages to the correct carrier and it’s all done via IP rather than analog cellular modems.

DICE found the least expensive and most reliable gateway in the industry with their partner IPtelX’s “IPtelX Messaging” service, which allows any automation software to connect using a simple web API (application program interface).

The messaging service handles the backend carrier connections. There is no limit to how many messages can be sent or received at any one time since it is driven by an IP connection rather than an analog connection. Delivery is also guaranteed, unlike with modems in the past.

DICE Corporation will continue to enhance these services starting in January when they release the latest version of SMS and texting systems. This version allows web links to be sent, taking the user to a monitoring company’s webpage. Each webpage can be customized for the alarm company and skinned in their colors to adhere to branding standards.

“Our first release will allow the end user to pull up the alarm cancellation or dispatch page, seeing the alarm history and what has happened with the alarm,” Dice said.

This system allows the user to still text “cancel” or “dispatch;” however, they can also press buttons on the webpage. The alarm waits for a pre-determined amount of time, giving the client time to cancel the alarm. This reduces false alarms, satisfies two-call required verification and allows for an enormous amount of cost reductions.

End users (clients) are taking care of false alarms by themselves, without the interaction of a central station operator. The end user can also press a button and be connected to an operator. Not responding to a text message will result in the alarm being sent to an operator for dispatch.

DICE Corporation is now sending over 500,000 text messages through its gateway connection per month and plans to build other webpage services that will be sent through web links.

“The new system will send bills that have buttons to pay; credit card expiration notifications where they can update their expiration date; payment requests for past due invoices and allow payment; and service schedule verifications, where the client could change schedules. These are just a few of the many items that will be added to the text messaging system over the next year,” Dice said.

Each of these features reduce the operating costs to any monitoring company, making them more automated – which is what automation software is built to do for an alarm company. Adding software systems such as SMS/texting and cloud hosting, where no capital expenditures are needed for servers or software, allows the players in the industry to change as the technological landscape moves forward.

“We began sending alarm notifications to dealers and end users early in the 1990s, and that has changed in the past 10 years to two-way texting,”

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