February 24, 2014
Home Security 101: Interactive Monitoring Services
It’s a fact that alarm systems can do a lot more now than ever before. Perhaps the best way to describe what’s happened to alarm system technology is that today, you can feel not only protected, but also connected. And the big reason for that change is interactive monitoring services. This post will provide an overview of what interactive monitoring means.
Interactive Monitoring Features - in a Nutshell
Here’s a short version of how alarm technology has evolved, since you can now sign up for services that include one of more of the following features:
- The ability to remotely arm and disarm your system from a PC, tablet, or even a smart phone using an app.
- The ability to receive text and/or email messages from your alarm system on multiple events happening in the home, such as doors opening, motions sensors being activated, loss of power, etc.
- Intelligent home video services: real-time viewing, plus motion activated clips sent to you and stored remotely.
- Home automation functions, such as the ability to remotely control your lights, locks, and thermostats.
Starting With the Basics
The first interactive monitoring services were developed by Alarm.com, over ten years ago. Alarm.com is still the most highly regarded platform for interactive alarm services – and it’s definitely worth checking them out if you are interested in these features. Other platforms have tried to follow in their footsteps, but all of them are behind in terms of proven reliability, and what the systems can do.
Remote Control & Notifications
What Alarm.com first developed was the concept of an alarm system that you could control remotely via the cellular radio built into the alarm control unit. In this case, remote control means arming and disarming the system – from pretty much anywhere. That you way you had the best of both worlds: safer cellular monitoring, and the ability arm and disarm your security system from anywhere.
The notification feature means that your alarm system can communicate to you by text, email or both on anything happening in your home. For instance, you can get an email any time a door opens – and you know which door it is. System armed or disarmed? You’ll know. Lost power in the home? Your alarm system will tell you (and remember – your alarm system has a built-in battery, so it’s still working). These notifications are extremely popular for busy families, and for homeowners who want to keep track of service providers (like dog walkers, repairmen, or contractors).
Intelligent Video Came Next
“Smart cams” with video services were the next logical extension of interactive monitoring. Using high-resolution color cameras that communicate via your home’s Wifi, Alarm.com expanded into intelligent video. Now you can log into your cameras and what’s happening at home – even from your smart phone, using the same app as the remote control. You’d be surprised how many people use these as “pet cams,” to check in on their four-footed family members during the day.
Motion-Activated Video Clips
But it gets better. The best systems (including Alarm.com) can also generate motion-activated video clips, and send them to you real-time. Imagine having a camera in your kitchen, pointed at your back door. When the door opens and someone comes in, you can elect to receive that 15-second clip on your phone or PC, and see your kids coming home from school – hopefully without any friends! These clips may also be stored remotely, where you can download them.
The most recent expansion of interactive monitoring involves home automation services, meaning the remote control of items such as lights, locks, and thermostats. Lots of homeowners find this development very exciting, since this where your home really feels “Connected” in addition to “Protected” – assuming you have the right system! You’ll feel more secure, save energy, and enjoy greater peace of mind.
Interactive Monitoring Alone is Not Enough
It’s also important to note 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 discuss interactive features in greater detail as we continue this educational series. There’s plenty to talk about: we take the approach that you really do want to learn – and that we’re in a perfect position to share our experience and our expertise. Remember to ask plenty of questions once you’ve made the important decision to protect your home and family. Whether you’re a first-time home security shopper, or you’re an old hand upgrading to the new interactive technology, the more you know, the better. See you next Monday!