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Author Topic: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)  (Read 24839 times)

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Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« on: March 26, 2009, 07:00:40 PM »
It seems like the new DIYer seems to want his or her security system to call a cellular phone when there's a problem.  I'm going to provide some examples on why this is not a good idea, and why you should consider the reasonable price of central station monitoring.

First and foremost, the communicator in your security system panel is basically a computer modem, intended to take over the phone line and dial into a receiver, which does the following:
- sends the panel a "handshake" or acknowledgement tone, to signal that the alarm system can make a successful transmission.
- The alarm communicator then sends its event information via a data string (Contact ID or SIA, etc).
- After the alarm communicator sends its information and the receiver is able to interpret it, the receiver sends the alarm system a "kissoff" tone to signal to the alarm system that the alarm transmission was successful.  The alarm system then hangs up and returns the phone line.

If any one, or all of the above do not happen (the panel doesn't get a signal back saying it made contact, and then that it made a successful transmission) the panel will hang up the line, and retry the whole process over.  Usually, ten attempts are made before the panel gives up, switches to the backup phone number and tries to make ten more attempts.

If you program your cellular phone number into the phone number field, this is what you will get:

Any alarm, trouble, or other abnormal condition would cause the system to call your cell phone repeatedly.
That means the system would dial for a burglary alarm, fire alarm, panic, AC loss, battery trouble, event log full, opening/closing (if programmed), cancels, restores, dialer or walk tests, or anything that would cause the system to transmit a signal.  How would you know the difference?  You wouldn't.  Would you call the police, because you "think" someone broke in, only because a squirrel ran across the power lines and took out the transformer for your neighborhood?  Or would you call the police thinking it was a burglary, then they get there and find smoke coming from a window.  Then, an additional ten minutes later, the fire department shows up and your house is a total loss.   Or, you wouldn't know if someone just busted in your front door, or if a cat knocked over a vase.  You wouldn't know if the power was out in your neighborhood, or if a fire just started in your garage.  You wouldn't know if your battery just gave in, or if your kids were followed inside by a child molester and one of them pressed the panic button.  Or if the wife read about the duress code and tried to use it because an armed rapist is now dragging her into the bedroom.  Sound graphic?  IT'S A REALITY.


A security system that doesn't report off-premises is basically worthless.

Even if you're home, imagine a smoke detector triggering, you and your family are overcome by smoke and are unconscious.  Instead of the fire alarm signal going out to a central station who can then get the fire department and paramedics there, your phone is ringing off the hook while there are only minutes left to your life and you're unconscious.  You can't make an emergency call on your home phone line, because the panel has it siezed while it's calling your cell phone.  You can't make an emergency call on your cell phone because the panel keeps calling it and hanging up.  Get the picture?  Imagine hearing your back door kicked in and footsteps coming upstairs at 2:00 AM, you press the panic and you programmed it to call your cell phone, so now not only is there a siren wailing, but your phone is buzzing off the hook too.  That didn't do you much benefit, now did it?  Better hope your good neighbors are awakened by the siren and call the police.  If the criminals didn't get angry about the siren and decide to hold you or a family member hostage, or even worse.......... imagine your own ending here.

You can normally get decent, UL-approved alarm monitoring for between $8 and $12 per month.  Normally, you pay upfront for a year, one time.  Is your life, your family members' lives, your pets' lives, and your property worth it to save a few dollars on not having a system properly monitored by people who can respond immediately WHEN YOU CAN'T?

A security system that doesn't report off-premises is basically worthless.

So, you'd get ten calls for SOMETHING.  Who knows?  Maybe you come home from work to find a pile of rubble, or maybe you come inside to two armed intruders and now your life is in their hands.  Or maybe it was just a false alarm.  So, when you disarm, you get 10 additional calls for the cancel signal, and an additional ten calls for the restoral signal, and a "communication trouble" that resounds every 24 hours and never stops.

Come on, if you're going to spend the money for a security system, you're foolish to not invest in proper monitoring as well.  Do the job right.  At the very least, most insurance companies offer discounts for security systems THAT ARE MONITORED, when you can provide the monitoring certificate.  Usually it's ten percent, but after time, it will pay for itself.

A security system that doesn't report off-premises is basically worthless.

Just my two cents... since everybody asks about having their system call a cell phone, these are some real-life scenarios on why it's just a cheap way out and why you should go all out for the best protection.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2009, 07:04:19 PM by dboyle »
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Karenkhay

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2009, 10:37:52 PM »
I definitely agree that DIY has a best security system as I should tried. But i never try this alarm systems for cellphones.

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dcrow

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2009, 02:03:01 PM »
I realize you probably want to sell your monitoring services, but you seem to ignore the fact that most of the DIY systems have the option of a voice dialer.   So it's not a modem calling your cell phone, it's a regular voice phone call with a message you pre-recorded in your own voice for each zone violation - like "The alarm for the back door has been triggered", or "the motion detector in the living room is going off" or "the fire alarm has been activated".   

Many of the voice dialers have the ability to dial multiple numbers - so not only you will get the recorded alert, your relative, friend or neighbor can get it too.

Check out whether a system you're considering has a voice dialer, and how many numbers it will dial if you're considering non-central monitoring.

Not saying that everyone should avoid central monitoring, just saying they should make an informed choice.


If you program your cellular phone number into the phone number field, this is what you will get:

Any alarm, trouble, or other abnormal condition would cause the system to call your cell phone repeatedly.
That means the system would dial for a burglary alarm, fire alarm, panic, AC loss, battery trouble, event log full, opening/closing (if programmed), cancels, restores, dialer or walk tests, or anything that would cause the system to transmit a signal.  How would you know the difference?  You wouldn't. 

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2009, 02:08:43 PM »
1.  I am not here to sell any of my company's services.  To be honest, I was a member of this forum long before I was in the alarm business.

2.  Voice dialers cannot tell you the zone that triggered the system.  Just that the system is in alarm.  They normally have two input channels (fire and burglary) and you have to program relays on the panel.  Hey, if that's the route you wanna go, knock yourself out, doesn't bother me.  Next time I'm in the Poconos for the day with no reception and one of the trashy neighbors tries to get into my basement, I'll know the police will be dispatched.  I'll also know that the fire department will be dispatched at the first sign of smoke, rather than some good samartitan noticing that flames have already cleared out two bedrooms and are venting from a window.

Enjoy the benefits.
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dcrow

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2009, 03:07:19 PM »
1.  I am not here to sell any of my company's services.  To be honest, I was a member of this forum long before I was in the alarm business.

Excuse me then - You didn't mention voice dialers at all, you made it sound like the only alternative to a centrally monitored system was to have a digital modem dialing your cell phone, and you would have no clue why it was dialing you, and you explicitly targeted your message to newbies who might not know any better.  Only you know what your motive for doing that was, but you could have certainly made a case for central monitoring in some situations without making inaccurate or misleading statements.

2.  Voice dialers cannot tell you the zone that triggered the system.  Just that the system is in alarm.  They normally have two input channels (fire and burglary) and you have to program relays on the panel. 

4 input channels are available too, at a price that would pay for itself in less than one year of what you'd pay for central monitoring.

Hey, if that's the route you wanna go, knock yourself out, doesn't bother me.  Next time I'm in the Poconos for the day with no reception and one of the trashy neighbors tries to get into my basement, I'll know the police will be dispatched.  I'll also know that the fire department will be dispatched at the first sign of smoke, rather than some good samartitan noticing that flames have already cleared out two bedrooms and are venting from a window.

Enjoy the benefits.

That's where the multiple outdial numbers come in handy - if you don't have a reliable friend or relative to cover for you when you're going to be somewhere without a cell signal then paid monitoring would definitely be attractive in that situation.  It's just not the be all and end all of home security, and there are other options for people to consider for their own circumstances.


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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2009, 04:48:34 PM »
This might be of some interest to those who want cell phone monitoring.

The thread is a about having the system call your cell phone directly.

Systems like the one in the posted article do not call your cell phone directly. They are monitored, usually through GSM, and allow access to information through a third party.

From the article:

Monthly monitoring fees are between $15 and $40.

imaz

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2010, 03:11:35 AM »
My parents and most family members have their alarms routing calls to the cell phone, I think it is handy.  Although it makes the call for any trigger(which as you discribed) but it then alarms if someone should check out the place ie a close neighbour to look around for anything suspicious if not then it maybe just a false alarm.  At the same time you can invoke a key to mute the alarm from the cell phone.  Which is what they do.  If of course your neighbout/friend who investigates the place and sees something suspicious then they take the initiative to call for police to investigate further.  It is true monitoring call centers do cost a lot of $ for those 6mo or more that they dont do anything for you.

I guess my views are different on this.

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2010, 03:37:21 AM »
My parents
I guess my views are different on this.

Certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion, but most folks come to this website looking for expert opinion and to share ideas.  I'm no expert, but I realize I buy auto insurance, but have never used it.  I maintain homeowner's insurance, but have never filed a claim.  I have health insurance, but haven't been to see a doc in 15 years.  SO...  we do often spend money for the "what-if" scenario.

A commonly discussed situation arises when everyone in the family is asleep and a fire breaks out.  Smoke fills the house slowly, rendering the occupants unconscious... so they can never answer the cell phone when it rings.  On the other hand, if the system were monitored, at least some help would be on the way.  Now, just because your parents and family members have been "lucky" thus far, doesn't mean they always will be.  Other common scenarios are home invasions--sure would be nice to hit a panic button or key in a duress code.  What if you're someplace you simply can't get cell phone receptoin, what if you're in a meeting and it's inappropriate to answer the cell phone, what if the house is being burglarized by drug-crazed kids, gonna have the kindly gray haired, elderly mom and pop from next door confront 'em?  Hmmm, seem to be a lot of what ifs that your parents and family are either gambling on or never considered.

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2010, 09:53:03 PM »
Bottom line...Yes you can monitor your own system using a cell phone for well under $10/ month.

You have to be smart enough to plan it out, and bypass any proprietary obstacles.  Throw out those voice dialers.  There are plenty of digital units on the market that use the cellular system to contact a central computer, then send a text SMS message to a cell phone, email, etc.  and do it cheaply.


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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2010, 04:56:18 PM »
There are plenty of digital units on the market that use the cellular system to contact a central computer, then send a text SMS message to a cell phone, email, etc.  and do it cheaply.

Could you point out a couple? My house has wired sensors already in place to a DSC PC5010 which I may need to replace. I would like to drop the current land line and current $20/mo monitoring.

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2010, 09:32:40 PM »
Total newbie here to site and alarms. I purchased a house with an old hard wired Acron Avenger Programable Alarm System AV 8000 (smoke/heat, door & window contacts, motion, glass break, and wireless panic) that looks to be land line monitorable. Insurance is requiring a monitored system, but wouldn't it be possible to put together a system that would initiate alarm calls (land line or cell) with appropriate messaging direct to emergency services as well as to alternate/backup numbers for information? Isn't the the monitoring company basically in intermediate step in the process, that given an alarm condition with or without means of verification, takes the next step of emergency notification? As I said, newbie, so I need lots of info and detail in any response. (Where on this site would be the best place to start looking for information or place a post for that purpose, e.g manuals on the old system, interfacing with current technology while trying to use as much existing hardware as possible.)

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2010, 10:16:35 PM »
There are many, many, many, MANY reasons alarm systems do not transmit directly to an emergency management agency or 911 center.

A decreasing number do, and they're fire alarm systems that transmit via a public fire alarm system (Gamewell box) or a leased-line connection directly to the fire department.  A fire alarm transmission means one thing -- fire.  Those are slowly being phased out. 

- 911 centers are not equipped with the equipment or technical knowledge to be in the alarm monitoring business.  It's hard enough telling an operator, "I'll be testing the fire alarm system, so please disregard the Gamewell box".  Imagine trying to give them a list of 4+2 event codes for the thousands of older systems out there.  Do you honestly think a 911 operator really has the time to decipher a signal, call the premises, and the emergency contacts, before dispatching the proper authorities?  What about when the account or contact information changes?  Simply put, 911 centers already have enough on their hands without being a central station.  In addition to 911 calls, these centers must also any other emergency - severe weather, civil defense, etc.  In my neck of the woods, the 911 centers (EMAs) are responsible for activating the outdoor warning sirens for Three Mile Island if an emergency occurs. 

- 99% of the burglary alarm calls are falses.  Many municipalities require alarm permits, and many also require that alarm systems be installed, inspected, tested, and serviced by licensed professionals.  And when a subscriber does have an excessive number of false dispatches, somebody needs to be held liable.


- In the days when a traditional burglar alarm system rang a bell and was directly connected to the police station via a leased line, it typically only meant a burglary.  Now, systems handle intrusion, hold-up devices (different dispatch procedures for a holdup vs. a burglary), openings and closings, trouble with the system, tampering, supervising critical processes, temperature detection, etc.  In some cases, a signal received would not necessarily need emergency personnel response (AC power loss, or a low sensor battery, etc).

- Alarms that are received by a central station and relayed to a 911 center typically come with information - a 2-way voice session confirmed the activation of a medical panic button and the operator spoke with someone needing immediate medical attention, who could not reach a phone.  Someone alone by herself in the upstairs bedroom hears a loud slam followed by the siren, she confirmed that someone is in the house.  Or, the alarm that was just received was a false alarm and dispatch is not needed.

- Central stations are typically linked to or owned by an alarm system company, they're the professionals.  and yes, part of it is it's a business looking to make money.
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RamblingRick

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2010, 12:23:39 AM »
I said total newbie, but you seem to go off the deep end in your responses.

What I am getting at is that technology and communications should be at the point where a system can analyze its inputs, rank them on some predetermined hierarchy, and make an emergency (or non emergency status call) with an appropriate pre recorded message without having to have a third party involved .

You either have a situation where some one is present and can intercept an out going message if warranted, or no one is present and the emergency message goes out.

There is no need for codes to interpret, system logic should be able to handle that. The monitoring company would have the same choices, contact the customer and if present, address the situation, or if not make the emergency call. There would always be a potential for false alarms in either case. Maybe it would require some particulars like a local alarm first or a confirming alarm e.g. smoke +heat = fire, glass break + motion = break in. In other words the only emergency calls made would be in response to confirmed or highly probable emergency situations. Notifications, including those that may indicate only system trouble can be made to the homeowner.

But don't just blow it off. I am just looking at what might be possible and what might already exist.

Right now I could use some guidance on this site (where) to find some hardware (e.g. window/door contacts, wire, connectors, canned smoke) to get what I have in shape to hook into some current technology, and maybe identify what that technology should be or what system (and monitoring company if necessary) to go with. I don't want the expense of installing all new, and don't want an expensive monitoring commitment. I am pursuing a monitored alarm system for only one reason, insurance requires it, and so far it looks like the cost exceeds the given insurance discount.

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2010, 11:25:27 PM »
Hi there, I am 100% agree with imaz. I used to receive the calls from the alarm on my cell phone and had a couple of neighbors phones on hand. I will not be around for a while and now I am trying to use Network Multifamily for monitoring, this is the company that serves my condo. My mistake was not saving the original phone number before changing it with my cell phone number. Now, this company for policy or security reasons doesn't want to provide me with the number for monitoring, they just want to get $75 dollars to send a technician. For 30 minutes I was trying to make this people understand that if I want to, I can pull their secret number from any of my neighbors call log after triggering the alarm. But that is not really that easy. Does anybody knows any link or website to pull these type of phone numbers?

twisted

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Re: Alarm Systems Calling Cell Phones (Newbies Please Read)
« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2012, 11:54:49 AM »
The phone number calling history should be on your phone service bill.

 

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