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The Internet of Things and Home Automation Services

by Cassie July 15, 2014

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There is a big debate taking place among technology and home security companies today.

These big conglomerates are developing technologies to use the internet to network and connect everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data.

The technology is being referred to as “the internet of things” (IoT).

It all sounds kind of cool – everyday devices like coffee pots, thermostats, lights, TVs, hot tubs and just about anything you can think of could communicate and interact with one another using the internet. They could even work in conjunction with each other, and send useful data to users.

Experts argue that the internet of things would allow you to track and measure virtually everything. This will reduce waste, costs and loss. You’ll know when things need replacing, repairing or recalling, and if devices are past their prime.

You’ll also be able to control all these devices and access their information from your smartphone, tablet, or any web enabled device through home automation services.

There are a couple of hazards with the internet of things as well.

The big one is security. If your home automation system gets compromised, people have access to your “things” and home. And in this era of data breeches (remember the credit card hackers that attacked Target?) that’s a huge risk.

The other big concern is personal privacy.

Many of the technology companies behind the internet of things also sell online advertising and other ad products. The more data they have about your behavior (from when you drink your coffee to when you flush your toilet), the more information they have to sell to advertisers. This potential invasion of personal privacy is also a real concern.

This technology is in its infancy and developments with it are happening regularly. Keep reading the My Alarm Center Security Company blog for trends and developments.

What do you think about the Internet of Things? Do you think you would use this technology? Leave us your comments in the space below.

What Can You Do With Home Automation Services?

by Amy July 8, 2014

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Home automation services are quite popular these days. Most of us have seen the television commercials of people locking their doors, turning on the air conditioning and observing their home security cameras through their smart phone.

 

Between convenience, savings, tablet and smartphone connectivity, and lowering prices, these home automation services are an attractive option to homeowners. They allow you to automate and/or control home, housework, or household activity.

 

So what can you control with home automation services? Here are some of the most popular items:

 

  • Control Door Locks – activate door locks at set times or from a web enabled device and check on door lock activity.
  • Security Alarm System – Remotely arm and disarm your system and trigger actions and notifications based upon your needs.
  • Control Appliances –Water pumps, hot tubs, dishwashers and much more.
  • Lighting – Control light intensity and control which lights are on or off.
  • Irrigation System – Program your system to never exceed municipal maximum allowable water use allowance or to operate under just about any condition you can think of. Animals eating your plants? Configure the system to activate when movement is detected on your lawn.
  • Blu-Ray Players, Stereos, TVs and Digital Cable Boxes – Select the inputs and outputs for centralized and remote control.
  • Garage Door – Access your home automation from your smartphone to open and close your garage door.
  • Smart Thermostats – Operate your home heating and cooling from virtually anywhere. Adjust temperatures from your car on your way home from work.
  • Phones – Direct your phone to only answer for certain numbers.

 

If you are interested in learning more about home automation services, please contact the experts at My Alarm Center. Call 855-334-6562 for more information.

Should You Buy a Home Security Alarm System or Home Automation System from Your Cable Company?

by Derek June 26, 2014

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It seems like you can buy a security alarm or home automation system from just about anybody these days.

 

Your cable TV company will sell you an alarm system. They’ll even bundle it in a package with your internet, phone and TV programming.

 

Your utility company will sell you a home security system. You most likely won’t get a discount off your power bill but you will have more to read about in their monthly billing stuffers.

 

In the grab for more of your cash, cable companies and utilities companies are entering the home security burglar alarm and home automation business in record numbers. Even a search engine (Google) owns a home smoke detector company!

 

Why their interest in home security, emergency services, and automation? Two big reasons:

 

  1. Marketing research indicates that Americans are going to buy more home security, home security monitoring, and automation systems…they view it as a “growth market.”
  2. The home security and automation industry consists of many locally owned and operated companies, not large national corporations. Cable and utility companies know that most of their competitors in the home security business don’t have the multi-million dollar ad budgets like they do.

 

Now while competition in any industry usually benefits the consumer, where does it leave you?

 

Most likely, not in a position of security and safety that you need to be.

 

Security, safety and home automation is too important to leave in the hands of large corporate conglomerates.

 

You see, specialization is a good thing. Doing one thing allows people and companies to develop expertise, perspective and insights that transfer into better goods and services for you.

 

Protecting your home and family members is too important to leave it up to a “jack of all trades, master of none” type of company. You need to rely on security experts, companies that focus on security alone!

 

There’s a reason why the fire department doesn’t provide law enforcement services. The guy that bakes the world’s best cakes probably isn’t qualified to serve a five course meal and just because you have a successful baseball team doesn’t mean you’ll win at soccer.

 

Think about this for a minute. If someone is trying to break into your home, who do you want protecting it…people that specialize in protection or a company known for long wait times for customer service?

 

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, published by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, condemns the services of big cable companies. The average security company scores in the high 70s on the index while the average of the cable companies was just 65! Internet companies (many of which also provide cable) scored a paltry 63! It gets worse…customer satisfaction with these subscription TV providers fell 4.4% in the past year alone. The scores are amongst the lowest on the entire Index!

 

Most of the cable and utility companies offer a highly limited selection of home security systems and home automation systems. Most won’t work for larger homes. And there is nothing unique about the security technology and automation services that they do offer – you can get the same exact things from companies that specialize in the industry, not just from those that dabble in it.

 

When you need to rely on an alarm system service provider for your family’s safety, go to the specialists in your local community. That makes sense for car repairs, it makes sense for home repairs and it makes sense for home security and home automation. Click here for more information.

Four Wireless Home Security Tips for Your Second Home

by Amy April 10, 2014

 

The start of spring brings the high season for second homes. It also poses a dilemma for second home owners.

When you are not at your second home, how do you keep it safe? Not only are there threats to the home from humans (vandalism, burglary), there are also natural disasters and plumbing emergencies. Second homes by their very nature are often several hours from first homes and the greater the distance, the greater the wireless home security system complexities.

With popular vacation home rental sites like Flipkey.com, Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner, many homeowners recoup some second home costs by renting to vacationers. These rentals pose even more home security risks: how do you deliver and retrieve keys and how do you make sure renters haven’t trashed your place?

To simplify the home security and protection of your second home, we offer these tips.

Install a Complete Home Security Alarm System

Advances in technology make home security systems an attractive protection option for second homes. Cellular technology has eliminated the need for traditional phone lines for alarm system monitoring. Protect doors and windows, plus make sure to include interior motion detectors, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detection. Your best protection against burglar and vandalism at your second home is with a monitored security system.

Include Security Camera Systems

Security camera systems are highly affordable, and they allow you to look in on your second home from your smartphone or any other web-enabled device. This means you can check in on your home from anywhere at any time. You can also record activity, which is highly useful if you need to prosecute any criminal activity. Want to see if you place has been trashed by vandals? Simply look on your phone and check! Security cameras outside your home are a must. Inside cameras are great even if you don’t rent your place to others.

Add Home Automation Features

Home automation features can integrate with your second home security system. You can remotely control and monitor temperature settings, which can help keep pipes from freezing without wasting energy. You can lock and unlock doors, turn on and off interior lighting, and a variety of other convenient options for second home owners. Set it up to run automatically or control it through any web-enabled device.

Maintain a Lived-In Look

Keep things up-to-date while you are away. Hire a service to periodically check on your home. Use your home automation system services to turn on and off lights at designated times. Have your service or neighbors pick up any flyers or newsletters left on your property. Have a service keep the property in good repair while you are away. And make sure to use a yard sign and window stickers from your home security company so criminals know that your property is protected.

Security Alarm Monitoring Services 101: No Landline? No Problem!

by Amy April 8, 2014

 

With cellular technology and smartphones, many of us no longer have a traditional landline telephone in our homes. It’s estimated that nearly 40% of Americans don’t have a landline phone and that number is growing.

Many prospective home security system owners are concerned. They believe that a landline is necessary to monitor a home security system and, because they don’t have one, they’re worried about their protection.

There’s no need to worry.

Home security systems can be monitored using the same cellular signaling technology used for your smartphone. It’s effective and secure and eliminates the need for traditional landlines.

Cellular monitoring services involves placing a cellular module into the alarm system control panel. This module acts as a communicator between the alarm system and the alarm monitoring center. Signals are sent through the data portions of cellular towers, which make sure they arrive quickly and efficiently to the monitoring center.

Cellular alarm monitoring services also makes remote control (through your smartphone, tablet or any web enabled device) faster and easier to use.

Not all home security companies offer cellular alarm monitoring services. We do at My Alarm Center and we’d be happy to answer your questions and protect your home. Call us at 855-334-6562 or send us an email for more information.

Why Home Alarm System Owners Should Always Answer Their Telephones

by Amy March 4, 2014

 

Preventing false alarms and capturing burglars may be a challenge in itself, but when homeowners won’t answer their telephones, security experts say there is a whole new set of problems.

In the event of a home alarm activation, most home alarm monitoring companies attempt to verify the alarm to determine if it is a real or false alarm. Depending upon the type of home security system and alarm response purchased by the alarm user, this verification process usually takes place in the form of a telephone call from the alarm monitoring center to the alarm user, or a security guard or police respond to the alarm.

If the homeowner does not answer the phone call from the alarm monitoring company, response is delayed and the home security system system user may face large fines in the event of a false alarm.

So why don’t homeowner’s answer their phones? The problem stems from Caller ID and telemarketers.

The telephone numbers for most alarm monitoring centers aren’t displayed as Caller ID on smartphones and other phones. The primary reason these phone numbers don’t display has to do with personal safety issues for the homeowner. You don’t want an intruder to know the alarm company is calling.

Alarm users mistake this lack of Caller ID on their phones as telemarketers or calls from someone they don’t want to talk to. Thus, they don’t answer the phone call from the alarm company, which sets off a non-productive chain of events.

The problem becomes larger when you consider that most home alarm companies have different telephone numbers for their business office and alarm monitoring center. Many customers know the business office number of the home security company, but have no recollection of the alarm monitoring center telephone number.

Here are some tips for homeowners:

·         Always answer your telephone. You can easily dismiss unwanted calls while being available in emergency situations.

·         Memorize the telephone number of your alarm monitoring center. Many alarm companies monitor home alarm systems via third party providers. Many use different telephone numbers for their business office and their monitoring center. Make sure you know the telephone number of the alarm monitoring center.

·         Know your password. When you interact with the alarm monitoring company, you’ll need your password to identify yourself as authorized for interaction with the monitoring center.

·         Keep your contact information current, especially for people authorized to act on your behalf in your absence.

Not all calls without Caller ID are from telemarketers. Answer your telephone to improve your wireless home security.

5 Safety Tips for Senior Citizens

by Amy February 28, 2014

 

There’s little doubt that America is getting older. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Department on Aging expects the number of citizens over age 65 to double by 2030.

With an aging America comes an increasing risk of injuries. To help keep people safe in their homes, we offer these five safety tips for senior citizens:

Conduct a Safety Inspection

Many senior citizens live in older homes. That’s why it’s important to conduct a home safety inspection. Get a licensed home inspector to look at plumbing, wiring, heating, cooling and other parts of the home that could cause safety concerns. Make sure stairways and handrails are secure. Inspect outside lighting so that it operates properly.

Install No Slip Surfaces

Falling is a big issue in our later years. More than half of all seniors over age 80 fall each year, according to LearnNotToFall.com. Protect against falls by installing no slip surfaces in the home, especially in bathrooms, stairways, kitchens, and hallways.

Get a Home Security System

These systems protect against burglary, fire and life threatening emergencies. Many seniors install a personal emergency response system. These systems are always on and allow a senior to summon medical assistance or help with a simple push of a button on a pendent. They can also bring help if the person does not check in with the monitoring center at regular intervals. You can even hook up cameras to your home automation service so a loved one can easily check in on you.

Have a Visitor

It’s important to the well-being of senior citizens to have regular interactions with others. A phone call or visits several times a week not only ensures their safety, it also allows for deeper, more meaningful relationships. Try it.

Help With Household Tasks

Reduce the possibilities of injuries by helping seniors with normal household maintenance and tasks. Clean the gutters, change the light bulbs and air filters, do the yard work, shovel the snow and help with heavy lifting. Keep seniors off ladders and away from tasks that strain their bodies or balance.

These five basic tips help keep seniors safe. For more ideas on senior safety, keep reading this blog.

5 Big Trends in the Best Wireless Home Security for 2014

by Amy February 18, 2014

A number of best wireless home security trends will make their mark in 2014. Driving these trends are advancing technologies, declining costs and changing lifestyles.

In 2014, home security service means more than just burglar alarms. Here are the five trends in home security systems that impact you:

Home Automation Features in Most Homes

Consumer demand and lower costs make home automation systems practical in most homes. Two driving factors are wireless technologies and increased consumer interest.

With home automation services, lighting, security, heating, cooling and much more can be automated or remotely controlled by smartphone, tablets or any web enabled device. Lower energy costs through automation and lower technology costs make home automation a growing trend. In fact, it’s so big that Google just bought home automation technology.

Remote System Access from Web Devices

You can now perform most home security alarm system functions from any web enabled device from anywhere in the world. Turn your alarm on or off, control your temperature and turn on lighting, all from your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

Home security camera surveillance systems are often viewed by homeowners through these devices for added convenience and security.

More Home Camera Surveillance Systems

With lower costs, improved appearance and multiple uses, home security camera surveillance systems are prevalent in many homes across America.

Indoor and outdoor home security camera systems reduce crime. They improve police department response times in emergency situations. They can identify intruders and thieves so they may be apprehended and prosecuted by authorities. Home security cameras also offer conveniences like checking in on the kids to make sure they are behaving when you aren’t home.

One of the other big things increasing the popularity of home security camera systems is the improved appearance of the security system cameras themselves. There are camera models to fit most any décor.

Better Use of Interactive Services

Many Americans are using two-way voice communications with their alarm monitoring company. This allows the homeowner to communicate with professional response personnel at alarm monitoring centers. In the event of an alarm, homeowners can tell alarm monitoring personnel what is happening at their home. If it is a false alarm, special codes are communicated by the homeowner to monitoring personnel to cancel the alarm. For a true emergency, response times are greatly improved by this verification process.

Elderly Americans also benefit from this two-way voice interaction process. Many wear pendants with emergency call buttons they can activate when needed, like if they’ve fallen or feel they need medical attention. Once they’ve activated this personal emergency response system, emergency response personnel can interact with them to determine the type of emergency and the appropriate response.

Another example of interactive security was mentioned earlier…remote system interaction from web enabled devices is another example of interactive security features used by homeowners.

Increased Use of Cellular Alarm Monitoring

About 1 out of 4 households in the U.S. have no traditional telephone line in their home. That number is increasing every day as more and more people rely on their cell phone as their only telephone.

The home security industry has responded to that trend by developing technologies that allow alarm system communications via cellular networks. It’s a more secure method of alarm monitoring than traditional phone lines and it’s the perfect solution for homeowners relying on cellular communications. Expect to see much more of it in the coming year.

In 2014, you can also expect to see more calls for in-home fire sprinkler systems and detection for water leaks, carbon monoxide, and temperature control.

How Home Security Cameras Reduce Crime

by Amy February 4, 2014

 

Security cameras inside and outside of homes are becoming quite popular. Once reserved for the rich and famous, home security cameras have become quite an affordable home security option for most families.

So how do security camera systems work at preventing crime? Let’s take a look.

The one thing all home burglars have in common is that none of them want to be caught. They will go to extreme lengths to avoid situations where their risk of being caught is high. They don’t want to be seen, and today’s home security camera technology allows for real-time viewing from any web enabled device if you have home automation services. That means a professional alarm monitoring center or a homeowner using their smartphone could be watching a thief in the act. Check out what happened when this Florida home owner watched people burglarizing her home.

Many home security companies camera systems will cause an alarm when triggered by an intruder. Most police departments respond more quickly when there is visual verification of a crime in progress. Security cameras let police departments know it’s the real deal as opposed to a false alarm. This increases the chances of a burglar being caught by improving police response times to emergency situations.

Celebrities have long recognized the value of home security camera systems. That’s why they make home security cameras a focal point of their personal protection. They make security cameras visible outside their homes to deter crime. They use cameras inside the home to capture and record the activities of household staff and vendors to cut down on theft. Rapper 50 Cent says cameras protect him and look out for him.

Security cameras work well in conjunction with home alarm systems. Watch this clip of a burglar approaching a home using home security cameras and a home alarm system.

Studies show security cameras cut crime in urban areas, which is why cities have been using security cameras to protect public areas for years. And although no studies exist about the impact of security cameras on home break-ins, law enforcement officials will tell you that no criminal wants to be caught on tape.

It’s clear that home security cameras are an affordable and effective home security system. If you’d like to learn more about home security services and professional security cameras for your home, call the experts at My Alarm Center toll-free at 855-334-6562.

How to Select an Alarm System Monitoring Company for an Existing Wireless Home Security System

by Amy January 14, 2014

 

You move into a new home that already has an alarm system. Or, you’ve had a system for some time and are interested in changing home alarm system monitoring companies. What are your options? How do you get the best buy for your money?

Most good alarm monitoring companies can monitor your home wireless security system, regardless of installer or equipment manufacturer. So, what it all comes down to is how to select the best alarm monitoring company for an existing home security system. Follow these steps:

Step 1:  Get the make and model number of the home security alarm system. Some systems also have a marketing brand name. You will usually find this information on the system control panel, which is a metal cabinet that contains the system electronics, back up battery and fuses. Most home alarm control panels are located in the master bedroom closet, the laundry room, the basement or a utility closet.

Step 2:  Research home alarm monitoring companies. Check with your state or local alarm association for reputable home alarm monitoring companies in your area. Explore online reviews on sites like Yelp to get the opinions of others about their monitoring services. Use the internet and explore the websites of companies. See if they specifically offer the services you need.

Step 3:  Contact several different alarm companies for more information. Tell them the type of system you have before they come to your home. You need to make sure they can monitor your home alarm equipment, like your security cameras. Make an appointment for each company to survey your home and the existing alarm system. Have them provide you with a detailed quote for services in writing. Ask them for references and evaluate the responsiveness and efficiency of each of these companies.

Step 4:  Contact your state licensing agency in charge of home alarm companies to learn of any complaints against the home security companies you are considering. You should also contact your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are complaints.

Step 5:  Check references. Even though most home security companies will never give you someone that will give them a bad reference, it still pays to contact their references. Ask good questions for answers that help you make the right choice.

Step 6:  Clarify the details. Gather all information relating to costs, alarm response procedures, and capabilities. Make sure you understand what you are getting with your alarm system monitoring company.

Step 7: Select a company. Choose the best one that fits your needs and your budget. Pay attention to the details in the home alarm company contract.

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