Vertical Markets

ARC first for ECHO

by Mark Rowe

ECHO (Electronic Call Handling Operations Ltd), the not-for-profit 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 Essex Police control room.

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

Working with London-based Banham Security’s ARC, its software provider Monitor, and Essex Police, live alarm signalling traffic is now being handled between the ARC and Essex control room despatch desk via ECHO. For a trial period Banham will now transmit confirmed alarm signals to Essex Police to check system resilience.

The police chiefs body the NPCC estimates that ECHO-connected police forces will save on average one to four minutes in responding to intruder and hold-up alarm activations,as ECHO cuts out the human dispatcher. In police experience ‘every second counts’ in protecting people and property, and time saved by ECHO could count for arriving at alarmed premises. Their aim is to provide a faster response to confirmed alarms installed by approved companies.

ECHO is gearing up to provide this service on a commercial basis in any ECHO-connected police area with a full service offer from early 2021. To recap, ECHO has been put back like many other projects by the coronavirus pandemic, as Professional Security last reported in its May print edition; after featuring in its April edition the talk by Richard Jenkins, chief executive of the National Security Inspectorate (NSI), one of ECHO’s partners, to the ST20 exhibition and conference in Birmingham in February, pictured, setting out the scheme.

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 April 1, 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]”.

Essex Police are shortly expected to give notice to all ARCs serving their area to become ECHO-connected and lead the expected UK roll-out of ECHO. Chief Supt Ewen Wilson, Head of the Contact Management Command at Essex Police said: “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 have 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, and the completion of the pilot phase will set the blueprint other forces around the UK can adopt.”

Martin Herbert, Managing Director, Banham Security said: “The new technology offered by ECHO will transform the way our industry responds to alarm activations. Through our testing we have 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 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, ECHO said: “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.”

Paul Miller, Director of AVR Group Ltd, the ECHO-appointed hub provider said: “AVR is delighted to have played an integral role in the development of ECHO’s electronic call handling service. The successful test is truly ground-breaking 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.”

And Michael Askew, Managing Director, Monitor Computer Systems said: “Monitor Computer Systems has been seeking for many years to provide electronic delivery of alarms to the emergency services. Now at last it is possible through the ECHO project. We are delighted to play a part in this development by integrating our Sentinel product with the ECHO platform.”


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