by Josh Tafoya, Technical Trainer
(This is the second in a series of training blogs about automating your account comments for faster alarm handling. Links to the other blogs in the series are available at the end.)
Anyone who has monitored alarms or has worked in a monitoring center for any length of time will recognize comments like the examples shown above. They seem very simple, right? The problem is that to process an alarm with comments like these still relies on the operator to (1) read ALL of them, (2) interpret them correctly, and (3) follow the steps.
Because operators’ performances are measured by how quickly they handle the alarm, including contacting the appropriate contacts in a timely manner, if they are forced to read all of these comments it can adversely affect their rating. It took me twenty seconds to read all the text listed above, and I’m the one who wrote them. I kept abbreviations to a minimum, but you know as well as I do that notes or comments are rarely ever spelled out to this level of detail. It’s usually abbreviated, which sometimes takes more time to read.
So, let’s get started eliminating comments by automating some things!
The first one is easy. Most of you probably know how to disregard particular zones. On the customer account, within the Systems section, the bottom left of the Programming page is Event Programming. To disregard a zone, simply add the entry to the programming line, and select NO under the Alarm Column.
The next comment (about Zone 12) is also relatively easy to eliminate but will require the use of a general schedule. Since the comment about contacting John will also require a general schedule, we will create both at the same time:
Navigate, on the customer account, to the general schedules screen.
In the tall column on the left side, click the PLUS icon in the top right to add a general schedule. When the box pops up, we need a Schedule ID, a Description, A Schedule Type, and the details of the schedule. Since we are defining nighttime for the purposes of disregarding a signal, we need to identify the time from the end of the day (1700) to midnight (2359), another line defining midnight (0000) to the beginning of the day (0800), and yet a third line defining the full day (0000 to 2359) for the weekend.
That schedule can now be saved. However, since we are on the general schedule screen, we will want to define another schedule so we can quickly eliminate another of our notes. John, as we read, is not available on nights and weekends, which means he is available only during the day, on weekdays.
The General Schedule we are adding will be much simpler this time. We need to select Monday through Friday, and the start time of 0800, with an end time of 1700. This will be a keyholder availability schedule.
Now that we have these General Schedules created (NT and DAY), we need to apply them. To disregard a particular signal with a general schedule, we need Transmitter Programming (the top half of the programming screen). Since we aren’t changing anything into anything else, our input events and output events will be the same.
A keen-eyed observer will notice the Commands column on the far right contains a command. In this case, the InSched command will determine when the alarm is chosen to display to the screen or not, as shown below:
For our final piece of today’s puzzle, we will apply the availability schedule to the contact specified. We need to navigate to the Contact List screen, find the contact in the list, and click the pencil icon in the top right of the detail page for that contact. When the Contact Edit dialog opens, we need to select the Contact Points node at the top of the screen, and select the schedule, as shown below, for the phone contact needing their availability limited.
And just like that, we are able to cross three items off our list. Our comments now look like the example below.
We will have more examples next week to continue eliminating these comments!
This is the second in a series of training blogs discussing how to automate comments for better efficiency and fewer errors. See the previous entry here: