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Statistics show that 95 to 98 percent of all alarm calls are false. The definition of a false alarm is an alarm signal that occurs when no intrusion has been attempted. They are usually a result of user or mechanical error. Here at McGill, false alarms are usually caused by: (1) using a key instead of a proxy card on a card reader door; (2) propping a card reader door or other alarmed door open to leave the area for a few minutes to go to the washroom or fetch a drink; (3) exiting an alarmed emergency exit door because it is more convenient than the main door; (4) entering the wrong access code or not having the access code to an alarm system; and (5) technological/installation/application errors.
For Security Services, alarm call responses account for about 30 percent of our services. Hence, false alarms result in a great deal of unnecessary patrol dispatches. The detrimental effects are: (1) the consumption of our security agents' time; (2) the reduction of our service to areas with greater need for a security presence; and (3) over time, successive false alarms erode our agents' caution and diminish the alarm's deterrent value, since bystanders will start to ignore an alarm that goes off all the time.
Because user errors account for about 40 to 60 percent of false alarms, the growth of the LENEL central alarm system at McGill portends a worsening problem. Security Services will promote more user education in the following months. In the meantime, we ask that all members of the McGill community assist us by taking greater care with the security systems in their work and study areas. Help us put our resources where they can do the most good.