If you’ve integrated home security or are considering doing so, you’ve probably noticed that many security systems tout the benefits of monitoring. It’s true; monitoring is a helpful aspect of home security because it guarantees a human response to an emergency. With monitoring, you can always be sure someone is looking out for you.
Below, the experts at Vector Security share what to look for in a monitoring center.
There are two basic types of monitoring centers. In-house monitoring is conducted within your security provider’s company, whereas third-party monitoring is outsourced by the security company to a different monitoring center.
Both in-house and third-party monitoring centers can perform basic monitoring tasks equally. For example, they are both equipped to notify the homeowner and emergency personnel when an alarm sounds.
However, customer service and personalization is a major differentiating factor. In-house monitoring centers are able to route customer inquiries to the appropriate personnel internally. Third-party monitoring centers, on the other hand, have less access to your security company’s internal departments.
Either way, both options serve your monitoring needs, as each has trained operators that can verify emergencies and dispatch help if needed.
Monitoring Center Operators and Training
Training is incredibly important for central monitoring stations, as operators are responsible for people’s lives and property. Operators need to be trained on:
- The burglar and fire alarm industry.
- The urgency of the situation.
- Customer service best practices.
- The need for information accuracy.
- How to use the automation software that processes the alarm.
Additional training aspects to consider pertain to special certifications and internal training processes. The best monitoring centers invest in new hires with a training program and additional certifications, such as a The Monitoring Association Level I certification, an online course that teaches operators about the alarm industry. They also feature dedicated trainers—individuals whose entire role is to train a new hire. Since not everyone trains or learns the same, dedicated trainers ensure consistency and that all onboarding details are covered.
Overall, when comparing centers, consider the training program’s length, the tenure and depth of the staff, and the operator’s role. Operators should be dedicated to only answering incoming phone calls and alarms, and not splitting their time with other office or administrative tasks.
Monitoring Center Certifications
For the monitoring center itself, certifications are a valuable way to assess overall quality. When evaluating options, look for:
- UL certification. Provided by an outside assessment, UL certification verifies that the monitoring center meets industry-accepted standards regarding building structure, equipment, signal response processes and staffing levels.
- Factory Mutual (FM) for fire. It ensures the monitoring center is properly designed to respond to life-safety emergencies.
- The Monitoring Association Five-Diamond certification. It demonstrates high-quality training and that the monitoring center is sharing industry knowledge and information with operators.
Monitoring Center Safeguards
Assess any home monitoring service to ensure the appropriate precautions are taken to ensure redundancy. Monitoring centers need to have redundant hardware, phone lines and staff at multiple locations.
If there is an outage at one facility, the monitoring center should be able to quickly move the alarm traffic to another location. If equipment at one center is offline, traffic is routed to an alternate central station, and then brought back when systems are working again. This ensures that there is no impact or outage to customer monitoring services.
No matter what, any home security monitoring center you choose should have strong customer service, operator training and emergency safeguards in place.