What is the Role of a Monitoring Platform?

The role of a monitoring platform is to forward alerts from an alarm system to a central station and/or an interactive service platform. This depends on the user's monitoring plan. The main goal is for a central station operator and/or the end user to be alerted to important system events.

Examples of monitoring platforms include AlarmNet for Honeywell and Resideo Systems, as well as Alarm.com, which is used with systems from a variety of different manufacturers. When an important event occurs on a monitored security system, such as a burglary or fire alarm, the system takes action by sending an alert to the associated monitoring platform. How exactly the process continues from there will depend on the type of monitoring plan that the end user has. But the basic gist is that the monitoring platform will forward the alert to a central station and/or an interactive service platform.

If the user has central station monitoring service, then the alert will be sent to a central monitoring station. A trained operator will then respond to the alert based on the instructions listed on the user's monitoring account. Depending on the type of alarm (e.g. intrusion, fire, CO, etc.), the trained operator may try to contact the end user first to see if everything is alright. The end user must provide their false alarm passcode as verification if no response is needed. If the operator cannot contact the end user, or if the false alarm passcode is not provided, then the operator will typically request emergency dispatch from the local authorities. For some alarm types, such as carbon monoxide alarms, a central station operator is required by law to request emergency dispatch, even if they call the premises and someone provides the proper false alarm passcode.

Monitoring platforms can also forward incoming system alerts to interactive service platforms. Examples of interactive service platforms include Total Connect 2.0 and the Alarm.com interactive platform. An interactive service platform can send alerts directly to the end user via push notification, text message and/or email. The end user will need to configure what types of alerts they want to receive and how they want to receive them in order for this to work properly. Please note that it is possible to have both central station service and notifications from an interactive service platform on a single monitoring plan. But if you only receive push, text and/or email alerts from an interactive service platform, and you do not have central station service, then you have what is referred to as "self-monitoring". For self-monitored users, it is imperative that they are able to respond quickly to any incoming alerts, as it will be entirely up to them to request help in an emergency situation.

In order for monitoring service to work properly, the security system must be able to successfully send alerts to the corresponding monitoring platform, whether that is AlarmNet or Alarm.com. This means that the system must have an active and functional communication pathway set up to the monitoring platform. Modern security systems use internet protocol (IP) connectivity and/or cellular connectivity to communicate with monitoring platforms. Internet monitoring is usually less expensive, but it is also much more prone to outages. Cellular monitoring is more reliable, as a cellular connection will almost never become lost once an adequate signal is obtained. But cellular monitoring is more costly because of the fees that cellular service providers (e.g. AT&T, Verizon, etc.) charge for maintaining their cellular networks. Most cellular monitoring plans will also include IP connectivity at no additional charge. Using both IP and cellular together is commonly referred to as dual-path connectivity But an IP-only plan will not include cellular.

Please note that in addition to the appropriate monitoring plan, your security system will also need a compatible IP communicator and/or cellular communicator, based on the type of communication pathway you want to establish and the monitoring plan you choose. Make sure that your system has the appropriate hardware for the connectivity you plan to utilize for alarm monitoring. It is also important to note that the Alarm.com monitoring platform requires that all connected systems have a cellular communication path that is activated and registered. You cannot set up Alarm.com service on IP connectivity alone. The same is not true for AlarmNet and Total Connect 2.0, which can be used on IP only, without cellular service. Many users will opt to obtain Honeywell and Resideo Systems for use with AlarmNet and TC2 for the purpose of saving money in monitoring costs. Just understand that if you go IP-only on AlarmNet, then an internet outage will take your system offline and leave your home or business vulnerable until IP service is restored.

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