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Professionally Monitored Home Security Systems: What’s Enough Safety?

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Professionally Monitored Home Security Systems: What’s Enough Safety?
November 4, 2019
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Professionally Monitored Home Security Systems: What’s Enough Safety?

Two different plans reap the advantages of trained

professionals, powerful sensors, and modern technology

In recent years, some consumers have opted for self-monitored home security systems. But nearly 24 million households—or twelve times more—have a professionally monitored security system.

There's a good reason for that: when modern DIY home security systems leverage the additional benefits of professional monitoring, families are safer, have an enhanced sense of control, and can better benefit from emerging smart-home technologies. In this article, we explain why that’s the case—and explore how two plans from Frontpoint make the most of what monitoring has to offer.

Home security systems without professional monitoring can’t always

deliver when they’re needed most

More than 400 people die each year from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, a gas that often incapacitates an individual before they can call for help. Another 50,000 end up in the emergency room. And each winter, news outlets across North America grimly chronicle story after story of near-fatalities caused by indoor propane heaters, gas leaks, and backed-up chimneys.

In one of the most tragic reports we’ve seen, an elderly couple died in a North Carolina hotel room. With no CO detectors on-site, it took nearly two months for a coroner to identify CO poisoning as the cause. And during that time, an 11-year-old boy died in the same room.

Picture of clogged chimney fluePicture of clogged chimney flue
Chimney flues can clog over time, causing carbon monoxide to build up around wood-burning stoves. Source: Wakeford Fireplaces

When such a gas leak—or the thick smoke of a fire—leaves homeowners unconscious, a resident calling 911 isn’t an option. Professionally monitored home security systems with CO sensors and smoke and heat sensors, however, can save lives by ensuring that somebody comes to the rescue.

Monitored security systems can even be programmed with duress codes used when a violent intruder forces you to disarm the system. And they’re useful even in less life-threatening circumstances. For consumers who don’t want to worry about their home during a vacation—or for those who don’t have the flexibility to act as their own remote security guard during the workday—monitoring provides next-level peace of mind in a range of scenarios.

Some home security systems don’t have any monitoring at all. Instead, consumers watch over their own homes using cameras with built-in motion sensors. While some households get a lot of mileage out of these systems, which use mobile alerts to draw users’ attention to potential problems, monitored systems can protect property and lives in a way that camera-only systems can’t.

Advanced equipment, rigorous training, and industry-leading

certifications are the hallmarks of high-quality monitored home security

systems

To get a better grasp on what monitoring means, let’s look at what happens when a burglar tries to break into a house with a professionally monitored security system:

  • First, intrusion sensors detect activity. Users determine which sensors are “hot” (active) and when. And when these sensitive electronics detect motion, breaking glass, or the unauthorized opening of a door or window, they transmit a signal to the system’s hub (control panel).
  • The control panel sends an alert to both the system owner and the monitoring station. If the alarm isn’t quickly disarmed from a keypad in the home or via a remote device, the monitoring professionals will attempt to call the user.
  • Monitoring professionals take emergency action. If they can’t reach the homeowner, they’ll contact local dispatchers—and first responders quickly hit the road.

Frontpoint users have the benefit of professional, around-the-clock monitoring from one of the industry’s leading companies: Rapid Response Monitoring. They’ve served thousands of alarm dealers since their founding in 1992, both from their headquarters in Syracuse, New York and their newer center in Corona, California. Among other reasons, Rapid Response is Frontpoint’s monitoring partner of choice because: 

  • Each of their monitoring specialists undergoes a six-week training certified by the Security Industry Association (SIA)
  • They’re licensed in all states that require them
  • They’ve earned certifications from the New York Fire Department, the respected safety organizations UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories) and FM Approvals, and the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA)

Designed to provide “unfailing power,” Rapid Response’s centers have multiple backup generators (each with roughly enough power to supply an electric train) in case of a power outage. Redundant computer and communication systems work to minimize errors. And their hundreds of dispatchers protect homeowners in North America and beyond—as this recent story from Syracuse’s WSYR shows:

Crash and smash protection prevents burglars from doing an

end-run on professionally monitored home security systems

Some burglars cut phone lines and telephone wires to disable old-school security systems—an approach that the newer generation of wireless systems prevents. But others use less elegant tactics, taking advantage of delays built into most security systems (often 30 to 60 seconds) to break in and destroy the control panel before a signal is sent to the monitoring station

Frontpoint uses cellular monitoring with Wi-Fi backup to prevent this from happening. It’s called “crash and smash protection”—and it’s part of what sets Frontpoint’s professionally monitored DIY home security systems apart.

Here’s how crash and smash proof monitoring works:

  • When an intrusion sensor activates—whether that’s a motion sensor, a door and window sensor, a glass-break sensor, or anything else—it sends a signal to the Frontpoint Hub.
  • The Hub passes that signal along using a cellular chip (or, if necessary, an internet connection). Unlike the chips used in many cell phones, the chip in the hub uses a low, military-grade frequency that can more easily reach nearby cell towers.
  • The system immediately enters a “special status.” That means that the situation is treated as an intrusion until monitoring professionals hear otherwise. An audible alarm sounds, either immediately or after a time of the user’s choosing. Then, through a mobile notification, users receive an “actual alarm alert,” which offers an opportunity to stop the alarm from blaring (and the monitor center from calling).
  • If the system isn’t disarmed—either from the Frontpoint App, a keypad, or by providing a verbal password when the monitoring station calls—help will be sent.
Picture of the Frontpoint Hub + KeypadPicture of the Frontpoint Hub + Keypad
The Frontpoint Hub and Keypad provide a smash-proof conduit to monitoring professionals.

Two approaches to professional monitoring emphasize

wireless, sensor-based security or more comprehensive smart-home

surveillance

Crash-and-smash protection and round-the-clock dispatch are important—but today’s systems have far more to offer. When it comes to DIY home security with professional monitoring, Frontpoint offers different takes: the Interactive Plan and the Ultimate Plan. Both allow users to make the most of wireless sensors and cellular monitoring—and both allow them to arm, disarm, and control their systems through the Frontpoint App.

The Interactive Plan connects intrusion and environmental sensors to professional monitoring and mobile applications

In a nutshell, the Interactive Plan is tailored to users looking to reap the main benefits of professional monitoring and wireless technology. It’s a powerful program that makes the most of well-placed intrusion, motion, and environmental sensors with rapid emergency response. The Interactive Plan includes:

  • Wireless and cellular monitoring. From flood sensors to glass break sensors, all of the security and safety electronics communicate wirelessly with the Frontpoint Hub—and each hub offers cellular monitoring.
  • Expandable, portable systems. Devices can be added or removed at any time—no installer needed—and can be easily moved to a new home at any time.
  • Geo-location services have made professionally monitored home security systems more convenient, more reliable, and more resistant to false alarms. Any user can create a series of GPS-based “fences” used to control smart-home electronics. Passing through that fence can arm or disarm the system, start or stop video recordings, and even toggle smart lights automatically. These services are designed to make everyday life easier—and they even have benefits at seasonal or vacation homes, where leaving a geo-fence can turn off the lights, arm the system, and lower the thermostat, all at once.
  • Mobile alerts and notifications. Get warnings when the system is armed or disarmed—or when sensors detect trouble.
  • Remote access and control. Arm and disarm from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Sensor history. View a complete list of every event recorded by intrusion sensors.
Graphic depiction of geo-fencingGraphic depiction of geo-fencing
Walking through digital geo-fences can arm or disarm home security systems—and users don’t need to lift a finger. Source: MIT Center for Civic Media

The Ultimate Plan fuses smart-home automation with

surveillance features to offer the most robust coverage

The Ultimate Plan improves on the Interactive Plan with video and smart-home features designed to secure doors from anywhere, confuse prowlers, help in police investigations, and make the most of powerful home security cameras. In addition to everything included in the Interactive Plan, the Ultimate Plan includes:

  • Streaming video. The Ultimate Plan allows users to store recordings and view streaming video from wireless, high-definition cameras. That selection includes weatherproof outdoor cameras and compact indoor cameras, along with premium indoor cameras and doorbell cameras—the latter three with two-way audio.
  • Video and image history. Motion-activated cameras can create 15-second video clips each time they sense activity. Up to 1,000 of those clips can be stored for viewing or downloading.
  • Night-vision enabled cameras. All four cameras use rays of infrared light to see even when there’s no visible light.
  • Light control. Users can turn energy-efficient, dimmable LED lights on and off from the Frontpoint App or on a schedule. It’s a cost-effective and even security-conscious move: activating a light remotely can confuse burglars into thinking an empty house isn’t so empty.
  • Smart lock control. These keypad-operated locks help households do away with theft-prone spare keys. They’re also one of the most powerful devices in any professionally monitored home security system: users can lock their doors remotely, ensuring that any door never becomes a vulnerability.
Picture of Frontpoint Premium Indoor CameraPicture of Frontpoint Premium Indoor Camera
The Premium Indoor Camera can deliver 1080p video over a 180-degree field of view—and even includes two-way audio.

The Interactive and Ultimate monitoring plans allow

consumers to find the right combination of security, safety, and automation

Pairing DIY home security with professional monitoring can yield powerful results. But for consumers, the choice is one of emphasis. Those looking for the simplest form of protection against intrusion or environmental threats may be well-served by the Interactive Plan. But for people who love smart-home tech—or those looking to take advantage of a few well-placed cameras—the Ultimate Plan delivers the goods.

Frontpoint’s plans protect against break-ins, medical emergencies, and other threats—and they’re both compatible with a range of intrusion sensors, environmental sensors, and accessories. Add as many or as few as you need!


Frontpoint keeps families safer and more connected in their everyday lives. We've been revolutionizing the home security industry for over a decade. And we're just getting started. To shop DIY home security systems, check out our Security Packages. If you have questions or would like to discuss a quote, contact us at 1-877-602-5276.

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