Opportunities in Alarms and Central Stations

As technology evolves, the demand for alarm systems and monitoring is growing.


Central station monitoring fostered the electronic security industry. Where once the market was limited to only high-risk premises and alarm systems were provided by a limited number of companies, rapid developments in electronics and telecommunications has made central station monitoring a...


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Central station monitoring fostered the electronic security industry. Where once the market was limited to only high-risk premises and alarm systems were provided by a limited number of companies, rapid developments in electronics and telecommunications has made central station monitoring a reality for virtually everyone, and enabled both small and large private sector security providers to flourish.

Over the years there have been setbacks and obstacles, among them the limited availability of leased lines, and the reliability issues associated with tape dialers. Many of these problems were mitigated by the introduction of the Digital Dialer and alternative backup reporting products.

Other issues such competition from telephone companies and cable carriers, and political pressure as a result of excessive false alarms, blamed largely on the unprofessional conduct of the alarm installation industry, have dulled the luster of the jewel.

The demand has grown and opportunities abound. Off-site services provided by third-party contract monitoring stations include:

  • Medical Emergency
  • Facility Maintenance/Process Control
  • Remote Site Management
  • Access Control
  • Burglar Alarm monitoring
  • Fire Alarm Monitoring
  • Remote Video Surveillance

The potential benefits the locksmith can derive from offering off-site services is somewhat offset by the latest challenges have now emerged, some of which were manifested ironically by the high technology that helped create the opportunities, namely the Internet (the use of VoIP) and Cellular Telephony (The FCC has announced an "AMPS SUNSET". Cellular carriers will not be required to provide analog cellular service after February 18, 2008. )

Changes in these technologies are setting the industry back on its heels as it attempts to retool and rethink how it provides protection.

Gordon Hope, vice president of marketing for Honeywell, comments on the impact of the cancellation of AMPS: "We expect to see significant challenges in the installation side of the issue. The vast majority of installing dealers that use AMPS radios for communications will be forced to make a service call to replace these radios and will need to replace the radio with another radio device. To further complicate the issue, as the time ticks on toward the February 2008 date, the labor required to get to all the installed radios becomes increasingly challenging and very costly. The newer technology radios (either GSM or CDMA) generally have higher price tags associated with them than their AMPS counterparts. In addition, the GSM network is still being expanded and as such, there is not a 100 percent certainty that an AMPS radio being replaced with a GSM radio will actually work in all cases. Over time the GSM network will become very robust, but as it grows, there are the associated coverage growing pains which most adversely affect fixed radio installations."

VoIP: What is it and why it is a problem?

Not too long ago, Internet access was the exception rather than the rule, and it hardly impacted the installation and operation of monitored alarm system.

But now the Internet and network technology have taken over, and these technologies are being applied to security systems with some rather disturbing consequences. The overwhelming majority of installed systems and the bulk of the systems in production and distribution are geared for the typical installation template -- dial-up reporting with either a cellular or proprietary RF network backup.

This template developed because of the convenience of POTS lines, but their drawbacks are relatively low security and low reliability. Just about every premise had a POTS line, and it was common knowledge that the PTSN was subject to frequent failures and vulnerable to even the most primitive forms of compromise. Technologies such as private RF networks and later on, analog cellular units filled the need for alternative emergency alarm communications.

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