By Josh Tafoya, Technical Trainer, and Caryn Morgan, Manitou Elite Certification Mentor
An interesting topic came up on BoldTalk a while back, discussing the different ways people utilize monitoring groups. It got us thinking…most of the monitoring centers that we train only have one monitoring group in their configuration. Many of them likely believe that’s all they will need, or they don’t realize their options because they didn’t have any other choice in their old software. But Manitou allows for multiple monitoring groups, which creates a number of possibilities.
Special Alarm Queues
The first, and most widely used, function of monitoring groups is to allow for special alarm queues. For example, you can put specific customers into a different monitoring group if they are a VIP customer, or a video only customer, or a medical customer, or a government customer. Some of these customers require specific training or a higher level of experience than the entry-level operator possesses. In the case of governmental customers, often the requirement is that these accounts can only be handled by operators who have some level of background check.
In all these cases, it is as simple as setting the customer to a specific monitoring group and assigning the workstations to that same monitoring group. Alarms for these monitoring groups will not go to the default alarm queue unless (1) it is allowed, and (2) nobody is in the specific queue.
This is another common reason for utilizing Monitoring Groups. When a site is “in the weeds” because of a storm or disaster, a monitoring center can partition the signals that fall within the disaster area into a separate group for management by a smaller group of alarm operators. This allows them to better manage the alarm queue and alleviates stress for operators who might otherwise consider the signal volume to be unmanageable.
Notification has become a huge challenge for monitoring centers. Whether it is a Late-to-Test or a Restore Overdue, the sheer volume of these failures can quickly overwhelm the regular alarm queue and deflate the morale of a monitoring staff. Once again, creating a separate Monitoring group for these event codes can lighten the load from the regular alarm queue which requires fast and immediate response. Along with having these queues separated, monitoring centers can take advantage of the Manitou Signal Processing attributes which automatically clear out events that restore, such as a test signal that follows the Late-to-Test, prior to an operator interaction. These types of monitoring groups can also be managed by teams of technicians specifically trained to guide customers through the troubleshooting processes, thereby raising the customer experience and resolving problems with fewer service visits to the customer site.
Offsite Alarm Handlers
Consider a situation where an organization wants to monitor their own alarms. A company with a dedicated security force perhaps, or maybe a college with their own police force. In either case, they have the staff to monitor alarms, but no desire to invest in the receivers, servers, and Manitou system that will allow them their own monitoring station. Their accounts can be set up in a custom monitoring group.
They provide a broadband internet connection to the monitoring center via a hardware VPN (which is always on), giving them an extension of the monitoring center’s network at their location. The workstations installed at their end get tagged in Manitou as belonging to the custom monitoring group. Then they are able to begin monitoring their own accounts (and only their own accounts). Should the broadband connection fail, the operators at the permanent monitoring center are able to take over monitoring.
All in all, monitoring groups allow for some flexibility that you may not have been aware existed. Even the smallest monitoring stations can often find uses for multiple monitoring groups. Because you are using Manitou on a day to day basis, and because you understand the needs of your customers, you can likely come up with dozens more scenarios than we’ve mentioned here.