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Home Security Monitoring Centers: How Do They Work?

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Home Security Monitoring Centers: How Do They Work?
August 10, 2010
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Home Security Monitoring Centers: How Do They Work?

This post was originally published in August 2010. It was updated in May 2020 with new product information.


You may view your home alarm system as just a Control Panel with a set of sensors attached, but there is a lot more to it than the equipment. Think about all the people involved to ensure that your home security performs when you need it: the Frontpoint Security representative who checked to ensure your system was set up correctly, the person in your home who arms your system daily, plus your local emergency responders who react if there is an alarm.

And then there is the monitoring center, the group of people who connect your alarm system to the emergency responders, and (of course) you!

The monitoring center is an unknown entity to many home alarm owners and is the topic of many questions asked by our customers—after all, they are safeguarding your home 24/7. What is a home monitoring center? What does the home monitoring center do? What monitoring center does Frontpoint work with? Ask no more; we're answering all things monitoring center today!

What is a

monitoring center?

An alarm monitoring center, as its name implies, is a team of people dedicated to monitoring your alarm system. Monitoring centers are also referred to as a monitoring station or central station. In the event that a sensor is triggered, the alarm is raised, or the system shows any signs of irregularity, the monitoring center is responsible for responding by contacting you to verify the alarm signal and, when needed, deploying the authorities.

Monitoring centers play a crucial role in times of need, acting as a middleman who maintains a constant connection between your alarm system and the local authorities.

The monitoring center keeps a watchful eye over your home’s sensors. If an emergency occurs, they’ll know about it and be able to notify you and the emergency responders immediately. If it’s just a false alarm, you can confirm it with the home monitoring center so the authorities won’t be dispatched, helping you avoid a penalty or fine. However, if it is an actual emergency or you’re unable to answer when the monitoring center tries to contact you, help will be on its way.

For example, if an electrical fire starts in your home while you are on vacation, your smoke and heat sensor will alert the monitoring center and, if you can’t be reached, they will deploy the authorities. In this example, the monitoring center could potentially save your home from the fire and alert you immediately.

Picture of the Frontpoint Smoke and Heat SensorPicture of the Frontpoint Smoke and Heat Sensor
The Frontpoint Smoke and Heat Sensor detects unusually high temperatures and a small amount of smoke. If heat or smoke is detected, the Frontpoint Monitoring Center will contact you right away and dispatch the authorities if you can't be reached.

Do all

alarm companies use the same home monitoring center?

No, they do not. And not all home monitoring centers are equal. Quality of service, response times, and accreditation status and levels can vary from center to center.

These variations make it essential to properly do your research when searching for a home alarm system. In addition to researching the equipment and service of a home alarm company, make sure to inspect the home monitoring center that the alarm company uses as well.

So, what makes one monitoring center better than another? There are several points of differentiation:

  • Approvals and licensing – The critical ones are UL, Factory Mutual, Department of Defense (DOD) clearance, and Fire Department of New York—only a handful in the United States have FDNY approval. Once achieved, these levels of compliance must be maintained year after year. In many states and local jurisdictions, central stations need their own licenses to offer services.
  • System redundancy – The point is not how many centers a company has, but how robust each piece of infrastructure is. Redundant primary and backup power, telecommunications (access and carriers), web access, servers, even backup HVAC contribute to providing a flawless response.
  • Training and employee retention – What is the caliber of the operator, how well are they trained and managed, and how long do they stay? Even with the best systems, it is ultimately people who are verifying alarms and dispatching the authorities.
  • Ownership and location – Some home security companies use their own monitoring companies, and others use a third party. Additionally, monitoring centers are located both within the United States and internationally. Both of these factors are helpful to note, so you know who is watching over your home.
  • Experience and track record – It takes monitoring centers time to learn how to monitor well. The best centers have been around for a while, have perfected their hardware and software, and know how to react efficiently and effectively. You will know when you are talking to a good center—and it won’t take long for them to call, after the alarm event.

What

monitoring center does Frontpoint use?

Frontpoint works with Rapid Response Monitoring to provide premium-level monitoring to its customers. Founded in 1992, Rapid Response Monitoring is one of the most highly regarded monitoring centers in the United States with several levels of accreditation, including:

  • Department of Defense approved
  • Underwriters Laboratories tested
  • Factory Mutual approved
  • New York City Fire Department approved for commercial buildings

What

happens if the power goes out at a monitoring center?

Most monitoring centers have something called monitoring redundancy in place to plan for emergencies like loss of electrical power. Redundancy is incredibly important as it ensures that you’ll never lose protection, even when the unforeseen happens.

Rapid Response has redundancy for almost anything you can think of, including backups for electrical power, telephones, internet, computer servers, and environmental conditions.

Learn more about what happens to your home security when the power goes out.

Home

monitoring centers are an essential part of your home security

When someone is responsible for protecting your home, you want to ensure they are keeping you safe. When looking for a home security system, we highly recommend professional monitoring for an added level of safety. 

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


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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Comments
Alarm System Worked, but ADT Failed to Dispatch Police until Too Late | Home Security Blog
March 10, 2011 at 8:59 PM
[...] point in ADT’s advertising claims) does not guarantee that the service will be flawless. Our partner monitoring center (Rapid Response) has very strict rules for alarm verification, and in almost twenty years I have never heard of them [...]
Alarm System Worked, but ADT Failed to Dispatch Police until Too Late | Home Security Blog
March 10, 2011 at 8:59 PM
[...] point in ADT’s advertising claims) does not guarantee that the service will be flawless. Our partner monitoring center (Rapid Response) has very strict rules for alarm verification, and in almost twenty years I have never heard of them [...]
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