Having an alarm system is one thing, but an alarm is only as effective as the response to it. In recent years, a survey commissioned by GoCompare showed that up to three quarters of Brits ignore traditional burglar alarms: those alarms which emit the alarm sound as the only alert system.
The difference between a monitored alarm and an unmonitored one is that an unmonitored alarm relies on someone being present – either at the property, a passer-by or a neighbour – to respond to the sound, investigate the alarm and raise any further alerts as needed.
Unless you’re there, the alarm itself won’t alert you as the property owner, which means relying on someone else. However, a key fact about those three-quarters of respondents to the GoCompare survey who ignore alarms, is that around a quarter of these ignore them simply because they’re not sure what to do.
Even if the non-monitored system includes features such as ‘dialler alarms’ where the alarm going off triggers nominated phone numbers to be called, to alert keyholders, both this method and the reliance on passers by or neighbours presents the scary option of possibly putting those well-intended individuals at risk by requiring them to go and check on the property, which could be unsafe.
So it makes sense when installing an alarm to ensure that there’s someone who’s going to be able to respond appropriately and safely – and one of the most effective ways to do so is to install a monitored alarm product.
Inside a monitored alarm product
A monitored alarm system is one which itself communicates the alarm to the security provider, usually through sending a signal to a central monitoring station.
The overall system looks and acts very much like a standard alarm system when it comes to installation and alarm triggering and, depending on the extent and specification of the system, usually incorporates:
- A system control panel.
- A network of sensors which may include:
- Alarm sensors to access points such as doors and windows, so that a breach can be identified.
- Motion sensors, to vulnerable areas, so that intrusion may be identified.
- Specialised sensors sensitive to atmospheric changes, to allow other types of problem such as flood or fire to be identified.
- Tamper sensors, to communications boxes, so that interference with the alarm and communications systems can be identified. This is important because most systems rely on the phone line to communicate the signal, whether by the line itself or through broadband networks.
The big difference between this as a monitored system rather than unmonitored is that any trigger to any sensor will automatically send a signal to the monitoring centre.
The signal received is an alert to the monitoring station that there is a problem. The monitoring personnel response could include any and possibly all of the following actions, depending on the package:
- A call to the owner, to check whether it’s a false trigger or likely to be an emergency.
- If there’s no answer from the owner, then the monitoring personnel contact any designated contacts, such as an alternative key-holder, to help clarify the situation. Or they may move straight to contacting and dispatching identified support such as security guards or emergency services.
The overall alarm system and monitored response can be tailored to individual needs, to provide alternatives such as:
- Silent alarms which don’t alert intruders to the fact their presence has been identified.
- Immediate alarms which trigger an immediate security dispatch response, rather than a false-alarm check response. For instance, this might be a system where an alarm from a smoke detector means the monitoring personnel will immediately alert the fire service; an alert from a medical alarm triggers immediate contact with paramedic and ambulance services.
A monitored alarm system can be installed across many different situations and contexts, including domestic homes and commercial premises, whether vacant or occupied.
More about monitoring
Having an alarm system monitored by a receiving centre of security professionals means that whoever is alerted to the alarm will always know the right thing to do and will be able to offer a proactive response.
The benefits gained from having a monitored system installed include:
- A reduction in the number of false alarms (and risk of neighbour nuisance or ignoring alarms when in fact help is needed). In some areas, if an alarm system results in three false alarms (which have involved police response) then the police can refuse to attend the address if the alarm goes off again. Having potential false alarms investigated immediately through a monitored alarm system can help reduce the prospect of this happening – although of course it can’t guarantee that the police would be able to attend, this would all depend on their own resources and other local incidents at the time. However, you are still guaranteed that the situation is being monitored by your monitored alarm professionals.
- The fact that many insurance companies insist on monitored alarm systems to help facilitate police response if the incident warrants it.
- Monitoring which is in place 24 hours a day. Having such monitoring at night when many properties are more vulnerable to burglary and home invasion is a reassurance to property owners whether the property is vacant or occupied.
- Rapid response from fully trained personnel, as the persons manning the monitoring hub are trained to respond to any type of alert and investigate all instances of activation – a considerable benefit compared to those incidences of unmonitored alarms being ignored because no one knows what to do.
For your own safety and security, it’s also worth being aware that monitored alarm products work most effectively when they are installed and monitored by reputable companies. Indeed, top UK insurer Aviva recommends “it is wise to only use reputable and competent installers.”
Every situation is different and there are many alarm systems and monitoring products on the market. For further information, advice or a free quote on products to help you secure a vacant property, improve security after-hours to your commercial property or help you feel secure at home or when away from home, please contact us. If your property is likely to need enhanced security over a temporary period, it’s even possible to hire monitored alarm products –just ask our team to find out more.