Use These New Alarm Technologies to Solve Age-Old Security Problems

What are you — the security integrator — doing to incorporate the latest alarm technology into your offering to set yourself apart from the competition?

HAVING owned and run a small alarm dealership, I always found that one of my most exciting tasks was taking existing technology and reshaping it to fit my customers’ specific security requirements. Let me give you one example.

This case was for an owner of a small chain of video game arcades (yes, it was in the late 1970s). The special request was to have a monitored alarm system that required no interaction with the store’s manager; it was to arm and disarm automatically on a daily basis. This was long before the advent of alarm panels that now have built-in programmable scheduling. Even open/close services with digital dialers were not all that common then.

The store was open the same time every day of the week, including holidays. I decided to select a four-channel programmable timer controller. This allowed me to provide automatic arm/disarm scheduling, an audible 15-minute warning sounder before arming so the store could be closed and, oh yes, another schedule for daylight savings. By providing this requested automated service, I managed to gain the monitoring contracts for this chain of stores.

Many Ways to Cater to Clients’ Requests Today

Sure, this may be an old-time example and you might say, “How does this relate to today’s high-tech times?” Well, I would respond: “What are you doing to give your prospects new and exciting technology solutions? What sets you apart from your competition?”

Let’s take a brief look at some exciting high-tech ideas that might assist your strategy.

Today, one of the best arm/disarm services for commercial accounts is opening and closing services through your central station. Don’t forget to earn some additional revenue for providing a monthly open/close report.

Next, many alarm panels today provide the convenience of programmable scheduling, including arm/disarm. Also check out services such as Alarm.com for arm/disarm scheduling features.

Programmable controller and timer modules have come a long way since my earlier example. Not only are they low cost and very versatile, they have extra intelligence/communication modules. You can find some of these diverse modules here. In particular note the use of their “Particle” modules, which can provide mobile relay control via cellular or WiFi communications. The heart of the Particle module is the ESP8266EX chip for wireless networkable microcontrollers.

Smart Programming Made Easy Via App Functions

Customers today are looking for ways to incorporate the intelligence of their smartphones into controlling alarm system and home automation functions.

Two popular methods to accomplish this are:

  1. Near Field Communications (NFC), and
  2. If This Then That (IFTTT) recipes

Read Next: 5 Simple Physical Security Tips That Will Make a Lasting Impression on Customers


The NFC feature comes built-in to most Android-based smartphones and can be used to program timesaving control functions through apps such as Trigger and Tasker. Bonus Tech Talk hint: install Tasker first.

Anyone who has done any programming has learned how to create If Then conditional statements. This concept has been enhanced and simplified with the popular Web-based service called IFTTT. This service allows users to generate chains of simple conditional statements, called “recipes,” which are triggered based on changes to other equipment and Web services.

About the Author

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Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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