If you have a security system at your place of business, then you've experienced at least one false alarm. A false alarm here and there can actually help your security through unplanned exercises of your overall security plan, but when the false alarm is repeated and unresolved, and even affecting business, then that's a strong indicator that something needs to be fixed so your system will work as intended at the right time. Consider this as well: if you are getting false alarms to threats, you could just as likely be getting as many overlooked incidents that should have been actual alarms, and that's a big problem.
While this is not a technical troubleshooting guide, through the process of false alarm trigger elimination of the most common causes of false alarms you can both take action on any affecting your business as well as determine when it's time to call in a professional for a system evaluation, upgrade, or even a replacement.
Here are a few of the most common causes of false alarms for business security.
1. Staff not following procedures.
That's right, your employees and staff are propping open access-controlled doors that should not be propped open, triggering an alarm. Or, they are not following the daily opening and closing procedures you've designated for one reason or another - be it rushing, not caring, or perhaps the procedures are cumbersome and need to be more streamlined for efficiency and effectiveness. Regardless, these actions, or lack there of, are triggering false alarms. And, leaving your business open and vulnerable.
2. Lack of access control.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is having such lax access control that anyone can come in, including the public and vendors, and they have carte blanche of your corridors, rooms, and hallways. If your security system is set to detect intruders but you don't keep the access under control, you'll get false alarms repeatedly. Perhaps it's time to hire that gatekeeper you've been thinking about if locking the front door during business hours is not an option to at least check-in guests, or keeping the reception area open but installing an access-controlled interior door between reception and the rest of the workplace would help. The next time you take on a new lease for your business it may be worth negotiating with the landlord on a tenant improvement allowance that will be sufficient enough to both satisfy the overall design and include additional barriers between critical and non-critical areas that can be fitted with access control technology.
3. Employee error.
Otherwise known as training issues. It's said that 7 days of repetition is required to form a new habit, and 10,000 hours of practice is required to become a master. Forget that, you can't wait for an employee to spend 10,000 hours figuring out how to properly secure the place, and what boss has time to constantly supervise a single employee for 7 consecutive days? Try none. So, what do you do to minimize if not totally prevent employee error when it comes to those employees who have any level of control over the access and security, including those who are simply key-holders? "It starts with the hiring process," says I/O psychologist Blythe Chambers, a former executive recruiter. "Determining if a potential new hire can handle the responsibility of going through a particular process is key, and you find this out by taking a look at their history and asking important questions, such as job-relevant behaviorally-based interview questions, and job-relevant situational questions, to find out how past processes were handled or how they would handle situations unique to your business."
But, if the hiring has already taken place, then it goes to training. And, this requires some reflection on the part of the business owner/manager as well in terms of assessing if the current training and process is actually effective. Is it clear? How many steps are required? Is it something that can be done in an emergency if need be or is it a very lengthy process? And, one-time training simply is not enough. Consider refresher training, as well as involving those who have already been trained as trainers themselves for further reinforcement. A good security integrator will offer to train your employees on your new security technology and for integrators like us, GenX Security, training is often included as standard!
And then, there's the fact that we all make errors and mistakes sometimes. It's the repetition of the error or mistake that is worthy of consideration here.
4. Mother nature.
It's not always human error. There's also mother nature just being mother nature, as this false alarm from a residential doorbell security camera shows:
Of course, this false alarm is adorable (to us anyway), but business false alarms caused by mother nature aren't always so. Such as when a strong wind in a storm, perhaps a hurricane, knocks out the transformer linked to your location and the building emergency generator doesn't kick in. Does your security system have backup battery power? Or, a curious squirrel finds the cables that weren't properly concealed and protected and has a field day chewing them down to the copper and cutting off your most important security camera. Or, perhaps a tree limb is triggering a sensor or a camera and generating a false alarm and bombarding you with notifications. Whatever the force of nature is, if just strong enough or in the right place for interference, it could be the cause of a false alarm.
The best solution is to periodically walk the perimeter of your location and look for potential issues that could arise due to nature or weather. If leasing, let the landlord know immediately about any landscaping issues interfering with security so they can assist with their maintenance team. If landscaping is your responsibility, start getting bids out for removal of anything obstructing security or triggering false alarms. And, for those occasions where you have no control over what mother nature could do, pencil in on your calendar or delegate to another calendar regular battery and back up power checks supporting your system.
5. Vendors, suppliers, and service providers with open access.
Does a package delivery service come to your office so frequently that you or your receptionist has given them an all-access backstage pass to the place just to make the day easier? Do you have a service provider on a project coming and going throughout the day that you've disabled the access control for to make things more convenient? With good intentions can sometimes come unintended consequences. While maintaining tight access control at the front door, and keeping back doors locked and not propped can add a bit more of a cumbersome element to an already busy day, your security won't be compromised.
We've worked with many customers who do have frequent and regular vendors, suppliers, and service providers and solutions to grant them access without compromising security or creating false alarms is absolutely possible with today's technology. To learn more about a recent customer of ours who tackled this very issue with great success through our integration of key technology and training, please check out our case study for Memorial United Methodist Church.
6. Faulty equipment.
No list on top reasons for false alarms would be complete without addressing the giant elephant in the room most don't want to look at: faulty and outdated security equipment and technology. And, we'd like to add here as well, DIY security equipment and amateur installation and integration. We saved it for last. It's the most important one.
The bottom line is, if you are experiencing false alarms regularly and you've checked all of the above, then you've got a solution issue. Maybe you have an old system, and it worked great for years! But, like all technology it gets old, slow, a little glitchy. And, if your primary objective is to prevent intrusion then the reality is that today intruders can gain access to your business without triggering your old alarm because their technology is better than yours. A good security system should last you years, but they don't last forever. The silver lining is that often we can actually integrate some or most of your old system with new technology which will not only get you up to speed but save on your bottom line. And, that's winning! That's peace of mind. Plus, with outstanding training of your key employees to boot if you choose GenX Security.
Additionally, as your business changes and grows so do your needs. What was once perhaps a leap of faith on an idea is now a full fledged enterprise and that requires protection. When your business was just yourself, or perhaps only a few people in a small space a DIY security system may have been able to get the job done, even if it was risky. But, that won't support your growth. What if you have patented technology you are working on now? What if you are not just a tiny laboratory anymore? What if your facility has grown so much that now even have childcare on site? These are worthy considerations. Finally, a receptionist, no matter how good, isn't going to be the superhero that keeps all the unwanted guests out or even the right person for handling security issues. That's risky for both your business and the person manning the desk and managing the appointments.
A few extra tips!
If you're having an office party or seasonal/temporary help, be extra vigilant regarding carelessness which can easily occur due to long hours or being easily distracted. Delegate the task of double-checking access points during these special times to multiple people who can back each other up if one misses something.
Before arming your alarm system, make sure all doors and windows are secure. A cracked window for fresh air or a propped and forgotten door can easily throw off an entire security system.
If you've assigned any new pass codes or system arming codes, or have new users or recently removed users, make sure you inform your monitoring center of these changes immediately.
Trust your gut. If you have any sense that some aspect of the system isn't working quite right, no matter how small the issue may be, contact your security integrator without delay so they can check everything and possibly fix a larger issue that you didn't know was present.
If you've been concerned about the false alarms at your location within 250 miles of Greenville, SC, give GenX Security a call. We'll pinpoint the problem and get you the right solution for your needs and budget. Over 2,000 customers have received peace of mind with the next generation of security technology integrated by GenX Security.
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