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does your central station use redundant route and carrier diverse Internet pipes? should it? / more on Stages February 1, 2018

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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does your central station use redundant route and carrier diverse Internet pipes?  should it? / more on Stages
February 1, 2018
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does your central station use redundant route and carrier diverse Internet pipes?  should it?
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Ken,
    Consider the case where a central station has a single Internet connection.  They receive signals from the subscribers via the Internet.  Many subscribers also have purchased a cellular backup.  However, it turns out these signals are also brought into the central via their Internet connection, thus creating a single point of failure (the central's Internet pipe) and negating the redundancy being offered to the subscriber.
    This, of course, isn't going to be true of all central stations; there are other ways to bring the cellular signals into the central such as a leased line to the wireless carrier's switching center.  Hopefully, the Internet and leased line circuits are from different carriers.  
    That being said, I've found this less-than-optimal configuration at more than one central station and would advise other dealers to be on the lookout for this setup during their due diligence when selecting a central.  As more and more signals are transmitted via IP, some centrals need to 'up their game' and start using redundant route and carrier diverse Internet pipes.
    To protect the innocent and avoid calls from the guilty centrals, sign this anon.
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comment on Stages platform
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Ken,
    In response to Hank Goldberg’s opinions [assessing risk for central stations in the cloud, article date January 22, 2018]  he is right on many of the issues, but he is also not correct on some others.
    There are a core group of central stations that are on the SGS / Stages platform and we are miles ahead of the industry, this is true, but SGS gave us access to the tools to be there. SGS is not a hand holding organization, you have to have the critical mass, then you need to hire IT infrastructure experts in tomorrow’s technology (not one person) to take advantage of these tools. This is why Stages users are closing smaller central stations every month because we not only meet the future UL standards, but we exceed them. The Stages central station does not operate in the cloud, rather we use the cloud (internet) and not just multiple paths, but an array of technologies to allow authorized users to access our services in the most secure manner available today and tomorrow. Hank made mention of the NOC (Network Operations Center), USA, being the first Stages User, was also the first central station to be monitored by the NOC. If you don’t know what the NOC can do, you might not want to be running your own central station, because you don’t know how vulnerable you really are.
    Stages users may call themselves central stations out of convenience, but this to will change because we operate technology at a whole new level. Come see the alarm industry data processing centers of tomorrow, today.
Bart A. Didden, President 
U.S.A. Central Station Alarm Corp. 
Port Chester, NY 
Milford, CT 
St. Paul, MN 
bart.didden@usacs.net
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Response
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    I leave the technical issues to others.  Whether a central station needs more than one communication path and whether dealers will be answerable to their subscribers if the central station is not up to date in its technology and offering the latest and greatest in its security services, is the question I can address.
    All you really need to do is listen to your own advertisements and promotions.  Your market and your customers believe you are in the life safety protection business, and rightly so.  It's quite a leap from "we provide protection to your family or business 24/7, blah blah blah" to "we are not going to be liable for our own negligence or breach of contract".  The law supports your contractual protection, and you are a fool if you are not taking full advantage of that contractual protection by using the Standard Form Agreements.  But contracts, as important as they are, are not all you need to protect yourself.  Sure, you need E&O insurance in sufficient amounts of coverage, but that's not today's article.  You need to be sure that you are responsibly performing your services.  Why would that be necessary if you can fall back on your contract for protection from claims?  Because knowingly and persistently providing sub-standard services is a good way to end up on the losing end of a lawsuit, definitely if you don't have a contract and maybe if you do.  
    Knowingly using inferior products and services that ultimately contribute to another's damages is close enough to gross negligence to raise concern.  It's one thing if you don't know, even if arguably you should know.  It's another thing to actually know and not care, or be willing to risk the safety of your subscribers because you were too lazy to make a move or motivated by your own financial interests.  
    So, do you think it's OK to use the cheapest central station if that central station is able to offer those prices because of it's sub-standard services?  Do you think you have met your responsibilities because you use an expensive central station, even though you know that the central station does not utilize the best central station monitoring practices?
    I can't opine on whether one or more communication paths is necessary, or which ones are better than the others.  All I can do is assure you that someone out there knows, and they will be happy to testify against you at a trial.  The latest technology may not always be the best and is not always required, but you would be remiss in not taking a close look at it and making an informed decision if it does offer better protection, because better protection is something your subscribers expect.  When the claim comes you will be asking yourself why you didn't take the time to reflect on this article and take the time to investigate alternative ways to better protect your subscribers and live up to all that hype you used to get those customers.
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THE ALARM EXCHANGE

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301
ken@kirschenbaumesq.com
516 747 6700
www.KirschenbaumEsq.com