The heart of a home security system is not the alarm that goes off when someone breaks in. It’s the monitoring center, with its team of trained professionals, watching over you, ready to respond when you need it.
The ABC’s of a Home Monitoring System
A basic home security system works like this:
- Security sensors in the home detect danger signs (i.e. smoke, motion, door opening, etc.)
- The sensor sends an alert to the alarm system control panel
- The control panel signals the monitoring center
- The monitoring center notifies you and dispatches the proper authorities, as needed
They’ve Got Your Back
The police strongly recommend against confronting a home intruder yourself. Since many burglaries are drug-related, the intruder you’re dealing with is not necessarily a stable or predictable individual. Even if you’re armed and have no children at home, a situation like that could quickly escalate, placing you and your home in serious danger.
Your monitored alarm system is there to protect you, your family and your home – both when you’re at home and when you’re not. The team is trained for rapid response. Based on the specific alert your system sends, monitors can determine the type of emergency – fire, intrusion or medical – and react accordingly.
If you have an advanced, comprehensive home monitoring system, it can even alert you to an environmental issue, such as water leaks or carbon monoxide. You’ll receive a message relayed automatically through the monitoring center, via text or email. Then you can take immediate action.
Reliable Communication – The Critical Link
Obviously your home monitoring team can only help you if they know there’s trouble at your house. The communication link between your alarm system and the monitoring center is crucial. When buying a system, pay close attention to how that communication works. It will be in one of three ways:
- Through your home phone line
- Through your home internet cable
- Through a built-in cellular signaling device
You want Option 3 – cellular alarm signaling. Neither the phone line nor the internet connection is dependable. In other words, those hard-wired alarm systems are not safe. Burglars have learned to disable home security systems by cutting the phone or internet line before they break in. Phones and modems also rely on electricity these days, which means they’re vulnerable in a power outage. In fact, sometimes it seems an internet connection is vulnerable every time the wind blows…
Few people feel comfortable placing their safety in the hands of their internet connection, so internet-based alarm systems often offer a cellular connection as backup. Doesn’t it make more sense to get cellular in the first place? Cellular monitoring is simply a safer solution. The built-in cellular device sends alarms to the monitoring center over secure, reliable cellular networks. There are no wires to cut and no dependence on any other system within your house.
The monitoring facility – often called the central station or monitoring center – is usually in a central location, serving homes throughout the country. By consolidating operations in a central facility that focuses exclusively on home security monitoring, alarm companies can ensure the highest quality.
As in any industry, there can be good monitoring and bad monitoring. What qualities do you need to guarantee the highest level of safety?
- A highly-trained team of professionals
- A flawlessly-run facility, with state-of-the art technology
- Dependable communication connections between the home and the center
- Up-to-date information and strong relationships between the center and the local authorities
In addition, it’s a tremendous plus if your monitoring technology includes lets you communicate interactively with your security system, from remote locations. Features could include remote arming and disarming, instant alerts, customization, status checks and even home automation.
So, how do you know if the monitoring services are up to snuff? Ask a lot of questions. Find out if the alarm company does their own monitoring, or uses an accredited third-party facility. Find out how they ensure the security and dependability of both their physical facility and their staff. You want a facility with redundant power and communication, so the systems won’t go down during a storm or power outage. And you’ll want to know they have the proper certifications and industry accreditations. For example, the monitoring center that FrontPoint Security uses has these high endorsements:
- Underwriters Laboratory-listed and Factory Mutual Approved
- Cleared by Department of Defense for secure monitoring facility
- Licensed for commercial fire monitoring in NYC – the highest level of accreditation in the industry
“Pending alarm” is another important safety feature in home monitoring systems. It’s the feature that protects you even if a home intruder destroys your alarm system controls when they break in. At FrontPoint we call this feature Crash-and-Smash.
After a security sensor triggers, it’s common for alarm systems to delay 30-60 seconds before the siren sounds. This delay gives you time to disarm the system, avoiding false alarm. Most alarm systems also wait another 30 seconds before sending word to the monitoring center. In that brief delay, a burglar can easily locate and destroy your alarm’s control panel, disabling the entire security system. The monitoring center never receives an alarm.
If, however, your system has Crash-and-Smash, the signal goes out almost immediately. If you don’t send the “disarm” signal shortly thereafter, the monitoring center treats the event as an alarm. With a system like this, you’ll receive the help you need, even if your alarm system isn’t able to function.