Home Security 101: Interactive Monitoring Basic Functions

Posted by , , at 9:09 am

We’ve already talked about how today’s alarm systems have evolved to do much more than just help protect your home and family. This previous post introduced several of the ways that advanced interactive service let you feel not just protected, but connected, too.

  • Remote arm & disarm of your system from a smart phone, tablet, or PC.
  • Text or email notifications of events and conditions in your home: know what’s happening, even when your system is not armed.
  • Intelligent home video that provides real-time live viewing and motion-activated video clips.
  • Home automation for remote control of lights, locks, and even thermostats.
  • Mobile apps for all the features listed above.

Today we’ll cover the first two topics: remote arm/disarm, and the text or email notifications.

Remote Arming & Disarming

Traditional alarm technology can only be controlled while you’re at home—with an old-school system, you can arm and disarm, check status, and perhaps a few more functions. But once you leave home, you’re completely out of touch.

Some alarm companies try to skirt the issue: they refer to a short-range wireless device (such as a key fob) as “remote control:” don’t’ be fooled! Real remote control means easy access to your alarm system from the office, on a business trip, or when you’re on vacation, using your smart phone or any web-enabled device.

You’re in Charge

That means you’re in charge from your smart phone:

  • Forget to arm your alarm system in the morning? (I’ve done that!) Use the easy app on your iPhone, Android, or Blackberry device to arm your system from the car, or from your desktop when you get to work.
  • Need to let someone in the house (plumber, electrician, dog-walker)? Remotely disarm the system any time, and then arm it when they leave. 

Password-protected and encrypted access to your system means you (and anyone you designate) are the only ones who can perform these remote functions. 

Notifications

The best alarm systems can now keep you informed of anything happening at home. In addition to alerting you of an unwanted intrusion, your system should also alert you when the kids got home from school, or when the dog walker showed up – and how long was that walk? We actually fired our dog walker for giving five-minute walks (not the half hour we paid for!), though we never let on it was our FrontPoint alarm system that tipped us off.

Lost Power? No Problem

My brother once lost power at his California home while on vacation: since he had one of our systems (but hadn’t set up his notifications yet), I got the alert and called him in Colorado to let him know. He went right online to set up his alerts.

Here are some more ideas for notifications: did someone disarm the system? Who was it – and when? All this information (and more!) can be sent to you instantly, and to anyone else you want to receive these alert signals.

How Do Notifications Work? 

Every time a sensor in your home is activated, it sends a signal to your alarm control panel – and the control panel forwards that signal to you over the cellular link (here’s for a reminder on why cellular monitoring is so important).

You can get alerts each time a door opens, or a motion sensor is activated. And you can even put a wireless door/window sensor on “sensitive” locations like a medicine cabinet, liquor closet, or gun safe.  Additionally, “no-show” alerts can notify you by text or email if your alarm system is NOT disarmed in a specified window of time.  This is a great solution to ensure that kids are getting home on time after school.

Interactive Monitoring Alone is Not Enough

It’s also important to remember that the best systems today offer these interactive monitoring features in addition to the 24/7 “real” monitoring services offered by a dedicated response center. You want to know that there is someone being dispatched to your home – police, fire, or medical – when the need is there. And the best way to insure that level of response is with a professionally monitored system.

We’ll dig just as deeply into other interactive features as we continue our Monday series of educational posts. There is plenty on information to share, and we know you really do want to learn – the good news is that we’re in a perfect position to share our experience, and our expertise.

We hope you’ll ask plenty of questions when you are shopping for peace of mind. And you can always feel free to ask us: the more you know, the better. See you next Monday!

Leave a Comment