What should I think about when considering an alarm system?
In today’s world, securing your business is more important than ever. With the National Retail Association estimating the cost to Australian businesses at around $9b per year the value of having an effective security system cannot be overstated. The question is which system do I choose and how should I manage it going forward.
When it comes to security systems, and this can include CCTV, Access Control, Intercoms and various other products, there is usually a trade-off between security and accessibility.
- How secure is the system
- How accessible is the system
Many traditional systems will place a call to a “control room” to alert them when an alarm is triggered. This allows a call to be placed to you from the control room in the event of an incident; which then allows you to decide on a course of action. This really is the minimum service level required as it allows you to have 24hr monitoring on your system, creating a more professional and safe way to respond to issues. Another advantage of monitoring is that insurance policies generally provide for a discount if you have a monitored "back to base" alarm system. Historically, this was pretty much where the service ended with no real consideration given to the usability or accessibility of the system - a result of the fact that a security system was there just to turn on when you leave, and turn off when you arrive. The advantage of this approach was also the difficulty someone would have in getting into your system, as there was generally no connection to the outside world (internet/4G etc). In today's connected world however, people generally expect more from their installed systems.
There are now a host of extra features that an alarm system can offer outside of these traditional functions. For example, many alarms can now turn your lights/heating/cooling on when you arrive - or off when you leave. We can open/close garage doors or unlock electronic door locks, with many systems being able to use "geolocations", which means all these things can happen automatically depending on how far from the premises you are. Most systems connect to your network to allow turning the system on and off remotely via a mobile app. Many apps also allow simple programming such as adding users and/or changing codes, allowing for temporary access to be granted remotely for visitors, contractors etc. Self monitoring is now a viable reality that can actually save you money. For instance, go back a few years and when a control room alerted you to an alarm on your system you needed to take a bit of a gamble. Should you get a patrol car response (costing money), do you get law enforcement involved or do you make the call to investigate yourself, potentially putting your or someone else in harm's way. Now days, when the control room calls, you can jump onto your CCTV app and have a look to see if someone is in the building, or has the AC/Heating, bugs on detector lens etc set off the alarm.....this is called video verification. Apart from the convenience, this also allows the business owner to minimise risk to themselves and others by reducing the likelihood of disturbing an intruder onsite.
From a convenience perspective, these are all useful features; but the increased accessibility extends not just to users but would be criminals. Whereas once upon a time someone would need to physically interact with your system to get access, it is now possible to gain remote access from hundreds, even thousands of kilometres away. This means that any systems installed at your premises should be provided by an experienced installer with knowledge of how to mitigate the risks involved. Some security providers can offer networking and network security packages to minimise the risk, other products are attached to a secure network by the manufacturer with state of the art security processes and protocols applied out of the box. Either way, ensure that you ask about the risks and ensure your installer clearly explains how they work with them.
There are many different types of systems ranging from hardwired (all devices are physically connected via cable) through to wireless (detection devices are connected via a wireless signal to the alarm system), or hybrid (a mixture of wired and wireless devices and components). Which one you choose will generally be the result of the structure of the building and the surrounding environment as well as the convenience vs cost associated with setting up. Wireless devices are much more prone to interference by radio waves, Wi-Fi etc than wired devices; but are generally less time consuming to install allowing you to get your system up and running faster. Wireless devices can at times be cheaper to install as they do not need to have cables run to them; but this depends on the building. On the other hand, wired devices are arguably more reliable, less prone to interference and come in a wider range of options; but can be time consuming to install and prone to issues down the track if cable gets damaged.
There are many other considerations; but these are the main ones. Your security provider should be able to guide you through most of the process, but make sure you ask about the points above to ensure you get the best value and performance for your investment.
Key benefits and features of a modern alarm system
- Turn your alarm system on or off from your mobile device (internet connection required)
- Get notifications immediately in the event of an alarm
- Take control of your response plan
- Integrate your alarm system with auto garage doors, lights and many other home appliances
- Integrate with CCTV from the one app (available on select systems)
- Reduce your insurance premiums with "back to base" monitoring (check with your insurance company or refer to your pds)
- Choose from wireless, wired or hybrid systems
Key tips for monitoring your security system:
It is important to have an action plan in place for security events and we can assist you to create a process to ensure that issues are dealt with quickly; but most importantly….safely.
Call the police
Ideally, you should always contact the police if you suspect you may have an intruder in your premises. Should you witness an intruder leaving the building, do not attempt to intervene, you can always supply CCTV footage to police later if available. It is better to lose some of your assets than to risk personal harm. Chances are they will know your intruder by name already!!
Use extreme caution if dealing with an unverified alarm
It is important not to panic when you receive a notification. If you do not use CCTV, be aware of the situation before acting. As part of your action plan, make sure your staff members know never to enter the premises alone if the situation is unknown. If you decide to enter the building (not recommended) it is better to call someone else to accompany you.
Use a CCTV system to allow for verification of events
Although alarm systems are very reliable these days, it is still possible to see false alarms caused by air conditioning, heating, bugs/spiders crawling on the detectors etc. A connected CCTV system will allow you to remotely view the cameras on the property to get a visual confirmation as to whether you have an intruder or not.
All the best!!
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