I’ve written a fair bit about interactive alarm services that allow your alarm system to do much more than “old school” traditional systems. Here’s just a partial list of what today’s next-generation alarm systems can (and should!) do for you:
- Remote arm/disarm capability from your phone or any computer.
- Special apps for iPhone, Blackberry, Android.
- Email & text notifications on anything happening at home: doors opening, system arming, power loss, etc.
- Video services – live viewing from any web connection (including your phone), plus real-time motion-activated video clips sent directly to you and stored remotely.
- Smart home – remote lights, locks, and thermostat control.
And now, with kids heading back to school all over the US, there is an additional feature to expect from your alarm system: no-show alerts that can alert you when your favorite students don’t get home and disarm the system within an expected window of arrival. Here’s how it works.
You set a time window for each day of the week when you expect the system to be disarmed, and you can even select the recipient(s) to be notified by text or email at the end of that window if the system is not disarmed. The better systems will also notify you at the beginning of the window if the system is in the disarmed state at the beginning of the specified time – that way, you can always arm it remotely if needed.
When the system is not disarmed within the specified time window, you will receive the text or email notification – a good indication that Johnny or Susie may have stopped somewhere on the way home. It could be to cruise the mall, or to check out a friend’s new Xbox 360 or Wii games – but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s the library! The important thing is that you’ll know, and that knowledge is what provides peace of mind.
Of course, this feature had broader uses. Dog walkers, contractors, and other service providers can all be tracked using this feature. Remember my two dogs? When my wife is at school all day, we use a dog walker, and we want to know when the dogs went out, and for how long. Our system lets us assign a unique code to the dog walker, so we know when the system is disarmed, and re-armed. And now we know if the dogs are cooped up inside until late in the day – or if the dog walker never showed up at all!
As you may have guessed, my wife and I have a FrontPoint system. FrontPoint Security continues to be a leading nationwide provider of interactive, wireless home security, and is one of only nine alarm companies that cover the entire US – but it’s the only company that specializes in systems that not only provide peace of mind, but let you feel completely connected to your home. The feature described above is just one more example of why so many people are demanding more of their alarm systems. In this case, we love the idea of keeping you in the know, when others don’t show.