When people think of security systems, they usually have a couple basic images in mind. The first is a burglar breaking into a building and activating sirens and lights that scare said burglar away. The second image revolves around the activation of security monitoring services. This one involves the police showing up at a crime scene after an alarm detects a potential threat. Indeed, we set up most of our monitored security systems to create both of these responses. An immediate audible — and occasionally visible — system response can help end a burglary quickly. Furthermore, a police response can occasionally lead to an arrest and acts as a further deterrent.

However, we offer many security monitoring options than customers may have never heard about. The security industry has evolved to address many potential risks and fit many security needs. We’ve shared the basics of alarm monitoring in our post on Having Your Security System Monitored. In this post, we share some unique monitoring services that can add security to your home or business. We’ll begin by detailing the most secure means of alarm monitoring. From there, we’ll look at several unique services that provide security notifications above and beyond generic burglar response. Let’s begin by examining one of the most secure and convenient security monitoring options on the market: interactive cellular monitoring.

An Alarm.com app open on a smartphone.

Adding interactive cellular monitoring allows you to use an app like this one by Alarm.com to control your security system.

Interactive Cellular Monitoring

Traditional alarm monitoring relies on a hardwired telephone line to create a connection between an alarm and a central station. However, a couple of factors have started to make this form of alarm monitoring seem outdated. For one, many customers have shed their landlines. These customers generally install cellular dialers to maintain their alarm’s connection to the central station without a traditional phone line in place. Cellular dialers use a cell phone network, rather than a landline, to communicate to the central station. A second factor in installing these dialers lies in their ability to communicate even if burglars cut a property’s phone lines. Many thieves take this precaution, so using a monitoring service that doesn’t get affected by this act adds tremendous security.

In addition, many customers prefer the extra functionality and convenience provided through interactive cellular monitoring. Some cellular dialers, such as ours powered by Alarm.com, offer these services. Interactive monitoring allows users to control their security system remotely. Forget to set the alarm on the way to work? Simply grab your phone and use the Alarm.com app to take care of it. Interactive cell monitoring also generates custom security alerts for events such as low batteries or sensor trouble signals. Many attribute the desire for this technology to the “newer generation” of homeowners. However, we’ve found that this easy-to-use technology works for our customers across all demographics.

Open/Close Reports

While many customers may not know the unique term for this service, many of them ask for it. Open/close reports provide a log of who arms and disarms your security system, and when. This security monitoring option has plenty of potential uses. For example, many business owners use it to ensure that employees show up on time to work. Disarming the alarm system at this points creates an “opening” event. Likewise, arming the system at the end of the day also creates a “closing” event. We have a couple options for customers wishing to track these events, so let’s review both.

Unsupervised Open/Close Reports

The most basic level of open/close reports is receiving “unsupervised” reports. At this level, the central station sends the alarm owner a weekly email report detailing each opening and closing event. For many business and homeowners, this periodic check-in provides enough detail. In addition to seeing what times people armed and disarmed the alarm system, the reports can also help track who did the arming or disarming. If you provide different codes for different users, the open/close report includes the code used to arm and disarm the security system at different times. Therefore, if someone shows up late, leaves early, or disarms the security system after hours, you will know who did so. Our next level of open/close reports takes this security concept one step further.

An "Open" sign in a shot window.

Open/close reports allow business owners to ensure that employees show up to open the store when they should.

Supervised Open/Close Reports

Our “supervised” level of open/close reports also gives some real-time monitoring support. When we set a customer up with this service, we set up an “expected” schedule of openings and closings. For example, business owners may expect employees to disarm the security system every day by 7am. At the end of the day, they may expect the system armed again by 6pm. If either one of these events does not happen, our central station will call our subscribers and let them know. This allows our customers to look into the situation immediately. In this manner, supervised open/close reports helps customers track security system use in real time. This in turn helps them ensure that people show up when expected and arm the security system when leaving. Let’s look at another service that provides our users both extra security and peace of mind.

Two-Way Voice Services

In our post on Security Measures that Improve Senior Citizen Safety in the Home, we brushed on the topic of two-way voice monitoring. While not the most well-known monitoring option, this service certainly has its place. Two-way voice monitoring allows users to talk directly through their security system’s speaker to a central station dispatcher. The alarm establishes this connection as soon your alarm system is activated. In the case of a burglary alarm, this allows the central station to determine the level of threat the event presents. In the case of a false alarm, users can quickly provide the dispatcher with the information necessary to cancel the alarm. Of course, a real burglary will lead to a quick call to the police station. In the meantime, hearing the central station dispatcher talking through the security system usually scares the perpetrator quite a bit.

Furthermore, this form of security monitoring also adds life safety in other situations. We often provide mobile panic buttons for elderly customers who may need assistance at any time. During an emergency, these customers may find it difficult to get to a phone and make a call. Simply pressing the panic button begins a conversation with the central station. While not every company offers this service, we’ve long used it to provide security and peace of mind to our customers.

Unique Response Options for Emergencies

In addition to monitoring for burglary or home emergencies, we offer equipment and services that address a variety of situations requiring a swift response. Just as with most products in our industry, these security monitoring options vary based on our customers’ needs. Let’s look at some applications that require security monitoring without the usual sirens and strobes.

If monitored, an elevator’s “alarm” button (on the bottom left) can activate an immediate conversation with a central station dispatcher.

Silent Emergency Responses

As we pointed out in the introduction to this post, most people associate alarms with blaring noise and flashing lights. However, many of our customers ask us about more discreet security monitoring options as well. In our post on Panic Button Options for Your Security System, we discussed using silent panic buttons in businesses to address fears of a hold-up. Banks, convenience stores, and other high-target areas often install these devices underneath desks. With the push of a button, customers can create a police response without setting off a siren that would attract attention. In the event of a panic button activation, the central station dispatches the police without calling the premises first. This creates the quickest — and also least conspicuous — response to an emergency.

Central Station Response without an Alarm System

Most of the monitoring solutions discussed up to this point involve a security panel that communicates with a central station. However, we can monitor just about any existing equipment set up for emergency communication, even without an alarm panel. As an example, we monitor emergency phone lines in elevators. When monitored, activating an elevator’s “alarm” button creates a phone call to our central station. Elevator passengers then conduct a conversation with our central station through the elevator’s speaker system. If immediate help is needed, the central station then dispatches the proper authorities.

Finding the Right Security Monitoring Services for You

We hope that this post has helped educate you on some of the many monitoring services we provide. As a one-stop-shop security provider, we aim to offer any equipment that our customers may need. Likewise, we make a conscious effort to tailor to our clients’ unique monitoring needs as well. We encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have about the information in this post. We offer free site surveys for both homes and businesses. During our visit, we can recommend personalized security equipment and monitoring options. Together, we can create a plan that addresses your own unique security needs.