Security – Beyond the Ineffective Noisy Alarm

Security systems are necessary, but how effective is an alarm if it just creates noise? This blog post includes three tips to consider when evaluating your security system and a link to a case study.

I’m not an aficionada of noise. You won’t find noisy toys, blaring music, bells, or alarms in my house. I know it sounds a little bit like the Grinch, but I prefer a tranquil and serene atmosphere. So when a security alarm went off at a local business in my neighborhood, it was more than maddening. It started late Friday night. I can’t remember the exact time, because I was sound asleep.  My first thought was a bit panicked “What happened?” and “Is everything ok?” That quickly morphed to “will that noise ever stop?” and “Can’t someone break that alarm?” The repetitive beeping echoed in my head. It finally broke me, and I opened my living room window and screamed for someone, anyone to shut it off.  My language might have been colorful.  My pleas were ignored, just like the alarm.

The unrelenting alarm blared all weekend without interruption. That weekend ranks in the top five most unpleasant weekends of my life.  Who would have such a system? Did that security system really stop someone from robbing the store or business? Did it accomplish anything? It didn’t call the police or the fire department.  It didn’t send an alert to the general manager or business owner. No one rushed to see what the problem was or figured out how to fix it.  Frankly – no one cared. The noise drove me crazy and probably others too, but it did not produce any positive action or resolution. 

To have a security system that functions instead of merely driving neighbors to the insanity, the following guidelines should be followed.  

1.  Multiple alerting methods are a best practice

An alarm can alert those around the facility that there is an emergency, fire, or danger. But it is also critical that it notifies key individuals, groups or first responders by calling, sending text messages, emails or other desktop/mobile alerts. 

2.  Automate the process

Employ a smart system that will automatically call the police when a window is broken or the fire department when smoke is detected or that can activate video surveillance based on an alert. Define and preprogram different alerts for different times of the day that are specific to each situation. Call or send a text, email or mobile alert to the appropriate people so they can take appropriate action.

3.  Analyze the data

The ability to run reports and review how often security alarms or alerts are triggered provides the data necessary to improve processes and response times.  Instead of relying of vague notions of a system’s effectiveness, one should have the ability to objectively measure it and make data based decisions.  

Even after all these years every time I hear an errant car or building alarm I have flashbacks to that weekend.  Alarms are important only when they alert the appropriate people. Alarms that make noise without being integrated into an intelligent system are ineffective at best and devices of torture at worst.  Follow the above steps to better protect your property and people and the sanity of your neighbors.  

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