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ECHO announces successful end-to-end testing of new automated alarm signalling service

25 January 2021

ECHO (ELECTRONIC Call Handling Operations Ltd) – the not-for-profit, industry-backed alarms handling operator – has completed the first ‘end-to-end’ testing of its new automated alarm signalling transmissions between an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) and the pioneering Essex Police Control Room.

Over recent months, and with support from network providers BT Redcare and CSL, ECHO has set up resilient connectivity to handle alarm signals from approved ARCs recognised by the police service, enabling onward transmission to police Control Rooms via secure networks as they become ECHO-connected.

Working with the Banham Security ARC, its software provider Monitor and Essex Police, live alarm signalling traffic is now being handled seamlessly between the ARC and the Essex Police Control Room despatch desk via ECHO. For a pilot period, Banham Security will now transmit confirmed alarm signals directly to Essex Police in order to check system resilience.

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) estimates that ECHO-connected police forces will save on average between one and four minutes in responding to intruder and hold-up alarm activations. In their experience, ‘every second counts’ in protecting people and property. The time saved by ECHO could be crucial in arriving at alarmed premises. The key aim is to provide a faster response to confirmed alarms installed by approved companies.

ECHO is currently gearing up to provide this service on a commercial basis in any ECHO-connected police area with a full service offer from early 2021.

The ECHO service delivers on the NPCC’s ‘Police Operational Advice and Security Industry Requirements for Response to Security Systems’ 2020 (3.1.4). This states: ‘Electronic Transfer of IAS and HUA activations will be mandatory with effect from 1 April 2020 where forces are able to accept such activations. Forces that are able to accept activations after this date will provide a six-month period of notice to ARCs to enable connectivity between both parties [to be established]’.

Becoming ECHO-connected

Essex Police is shortly expected to give notice to all ARCs serving their area to become ECHO-connected and lead the expected roll-out of the new ECHO service across the UK.

Chief Superintendent Ewen Wilson, head of the Contact Management Command at Essex Police, explained “Essex Police is delighted to have been involved from the outset with the ECHO project as the pioneering police force to test the automated transmission of alarm signals to Control Rooms. We’ve seen there is real potential as part of this collaboration to reduce call handling demands and police response times to an alarm activation. We’re encouraged by the recent successful testing, while the completion of the pilot phase will set the blueprint other forces around the UK can then adopt.”

Martin Herbert, managing director at Banham Security, said “The new technology offered by ECHO will transform the way in which our industry responds to alarm activations. Through our testing, we’ve seen first-hand the benefits that ECHO can bring in reducing response times, supporting the police and giving additional peace of mind to our customers. Banham Security has been at the forefront of security innovation for over 90 years and is delighted that our Alarm Receiving Centre has been an integral part of the successful end-to-end testing of ECHO.”

Martin Harvey, director of ECHO, declared: “Reaching this important milestone has taken ECHO a little longer than we had first envisaged when the project started a number of years ago. Since those early days, a number of people have given their time and expertise to ECHO that has enabled this successful end-to-end beta test to go ahead. I would like to thank everyone involved to date and look forward to rolling the system out nationwide over the coming months.”

Rapid emergency response

Paul Miller, director of the AVR Group Ltd (the ECHO-appointed hub provider) explained: “The AVR Group is delighted to have played an integral role in the development of ECHO’s electronic call handling service. The successful test is truly groundbreaking, using technology to bring efficiency over traditional manual call handling between Alarm Receiving Centres and police despatch. As other police forces around the country become ECHO-connected, the benefits of a more rapid emergency response will be realised nationwide.”

Michael Askew, managing director at Monitor Computer Systems, concluded: “Monitor Computer Systems has been seeking for many years to provide electronic delivery of alarms to the Emergency Services. Now, at last, it’s possible through the ECHO project. We’re delighted to play a part in this development by integrating our Sentinel product with the ECHO platform.”

*For more information on ECHO visit www.echo.uk.net