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Call handling service

The industry bodies British Security Industry Association, Fire Industry Association and Fire & Security Association report a new Electronic Call Handling Operation (ECHO) project. This aims to deliver a centralised fully automated electronic call handling service to reduce pressure on the emergency services and alarm receiving centres (ARCs) by reducing their call handling times and errors that can occur from manual response.

Though ECHO will initially focus on automating the call handling process, it will bring about the ability to automate police URN management besides exploit the potential for automated audio and visual alarm confirmation.

Though a similar service to this has been piloted for some time with some alarm companies and police forces, the ECHO project brings the prospect of the technology being rolled out to other police and fire control rooms.

After discussions between the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and the private security industry in 2015, electronic transfer was agreed. This resulted in the NPCC security systems policy citing a date of 2020 for all Alarm Receiving Centres (ARCs) to be operating on an electronic platform.

The BSIA, FIA and FSA said: “We are delighted to be jointly playing a key role in the development of ECHO – which aims to use technology to ease the burden on the emergency services and ARCs. Our three trade bodies will be working closely with the NPCC and other major stakeholders to ensure ECHO is delivered on schedule by 2020.”

Though the industry has spent the past 18 months exploring a suitable platform, initial funding to launch the project, has only recently been secured. Since then, stakeholders have held an initial briefing on the expectations and potential of the ECHO project.

A new not-for-profit company, managed by the key stakeholders, will be launched. Its initial task will be to scope out the project detail, formalise the ECHO technical solution and then begin the role out to “connect” ARCs to emergency service control rooms.