What type of monitored alarm is best for me? A comparison of monitored alarms

Posted: 17th March 2017

In the last 18 months there’s been a huge technological shift in intruder alarm technology, with the main shift being driven by smart phone technology and IoT (the Internet of Things).
With the high growth of phones like the iPhone from Apple, Google’s Android powered phones like the Samsung Galaxy and its Pixel phone, we’ve seen a greater normalisation of the concept of controlling physical devices via apps - like the Phillips Hue lightbulb for example.
In the context of security, the biggest impact of IoT is a move towards an increased interest in monitoring, with a big focus on self-monitoring i.e. where a person monitors their own alarm rather than 3rd party monitoring i.e. where a person pays a monitoring station to monitor their alarm for them.
What is a self-monitored alarm?
Self-monitored alarms are where when an alarm is activated a signal is sent through to the owner of the property or a key-holder.  The self-monitoring can take a variety of different forms:
- Telephone and SMS: this is where the communication from the alarm is sent via telephone or SMS 
- App-based: this is where all the communication is done via an app, either passively or via push messaging

What is call-back alarm monitoring (used in traditional monitored alarms)?
More traditional monitored alarms are based around a 3rd party monitoring station, where once the alarm is activated the monitoring station is contacted (largely via a phone signal, but also increasing via the internet / IP), and then the monitoring station can make a call as to what to do i.e. call the owner, call a key-holder or call the emergency services (like the police or the ambulance).

What alarms with ‘immediate audio-response'?
Two-way audio monitored alarms are a more sophisticated form of monitored alarm, where once the alarm is activated a 3rd party monitoring station can listen and talk into the property via a speaker/microphone device.  What this means is that the monitoring station can verify whether the activation is a real emergency situation or not, and they can also then immediately call the emergency services in the case of a real emergency - lowering false alarm call-outs, and increasing the level of security for the property owner.
So, what’s the best monitored alarm?
The quick answer is that the best monitored alarm is the one that suits your needs.  The highest security form of monitored alarm is the *two-way audio monitored alarm* provided by companies with The Alarm Monitoring Company (AMCO).  The cheapest (and the most recently launched into market) is app-based systems like the Canary.