In the past couple of years, a new service has become more and more prevalent in the security industry: the idea of self-monitored security alarm systems. High speed internet access and the proliferation of smart phones have made this a service which are gaining traction in the security industry.
What is self-monitored security? A self-monitored security system is a security alarm system which is installed by the home owner or business owner themselves, and connected to an internet connection (or perhaps through a cellular connection). The system is armed and disarmed like any other security alarm system, however instead of having its alarms transmitted to a ULC-listed monitoring station (or Signal Receiving Centre – SRC), all alarms are sent to the home owner or business owner via e-mail or an app downloaded to their phones. This sounds like a good idea, however these sorts of systems can present some unforeseen issues. These can include:
A Higher Rate of False Alarms
Security Alarm Systems that are professionally installed have been shown to reduce false alarms. FMC’s technicians have training through the Canadian Security Association’s Alarm Technician Training Course (ATC), as well as a professional designation through the Canadian Fire Alarm Association (CFAA). Through these training programs they gain knowledge that homeowners might not necessarily have which can impact the rate of false alarms in the home or business. This can include things like:
- Proper Device Mounting Techniques
- Proper mounting locations to avoid false alarms
- Proper mounting locations for proper coverage (which may also impact whether or not the system actually activates if there’s an actual alarm!)
- Proper system programming
All of these factors can lead to additional false alarms from the system you’re monitoring, which leads to another problem:
You’re Always On-Call
When you bring FMC on to monitor the security alarm system in your business, you’re hiring trained professionals to watch over your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year. Our SRC staff has been provided training by the Central Station Alarm Association, which has gained our SRC a Five-Diamond listing, in addition to our current ULC listing. Moving to self-monitored security means that you would be required to handle all of the things that FMC handles on a day-to-day basis without this experience and training. This includes the handling of alarms, in addition to supervisory signals, test signals and other maintenance issues. So, if you’re away on vacation, you still need to worry about how the alarm system is being handled, rather than handing it over to the experts.
Relationship with Police
When a system is monitored at FMC’s SRC, we have a long standing relationship with police and work with them on a daily basis. We know how to respond to alarms and quickly, properly and effectively dispatch them to your local police department. Additionally, many police departments are amending their alarm response policies and by-laws to only accept alarm calls from registered alarm monitoring companies. It is currently unclear how they would respond to a self-monitored security alarm system, and whether many would accept a call from a security system that isn’t from a registered alarm company.
Will it Stand Up to Insurance Requirements?
We know that self-monitored security won’t stand up to the rigours of CAN/ULC-S561, and this won’t be accepted for the monitoring of a fire alarm or sprinkler system in compliance with local building codes and fire codes. However, most insurance companies provide insurance discounts should you have a security system installed and monitored. The requirement for this discount, however is that the system is being monitored through a ULC-listed SRC. You should check with your insurer prior to moving to a self-monitored security alarm system to see if this would have any bearing on your insurance.
You can clearly see that there are many downsides to monitoring your security alarm system on your own, without the help of ULC-listed SRC like FMC’s. FMC can provide many of the additional benefits of self-monitored security (such as monitored cameras, thermostat control, e-mail and app alerts on your phone) through our partnership with Alarm.com, all while having the benefit and peace of mind of a certified, trained SRC monitoring the system.