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Two-Way Voice Monitoring

Alex Flitton
Nov 8, 2018 8:05:00 AM

What is Two-Way Voice Monitoring?

Two-way voice is a communication method that is used between a security system user and a central station operator after an alarm is triggered. Depending on the style it uses, a two-way system acts as an added level of verification to help reduce false alarm dispatches.

What communication methods does Two-Way Voice Use?

Depending on the type of device, whether it's a two-way voice panel, wired or wireless, there are three different two-way communication methods that are used.

  • Full Duplex - Works like a standard phone call that needs to be manually engaged by the operator. Like a phone call, the operator can speak and listen at the same time. Full Duplex is only used on systems that are connected by a landline and can be switched to Toggle mode if the sound quality needs to be enhanced.
  • Toggle - More like a walkie-talkie, toggle mode requires the operator to switch between speaking and listening mode to communicate with the user. Because toggle mode uses isolated communication directions, the sound quality and volume is enhanced. It also requires the system to be run through a traditional landline.
  • P-Call - The most like a phone call since it does not require additional actions by the operator once a connection is made. The primary difference from Full Duplex, is it is a mobile-ready communication type since it does not use a landline. Therefore, wireless security systems and mPERS devices use this communication method.

Why Is Two-Way Voice Monitoring Important?

In the last several years, a significant number of police jurisdictions have enacted false alarm ordinances that charge fees to subscribers and dealers alike. And in some cases, police departments will refuse to send police to homes who reach a threshold number of false alarm dispatches. What many of these jurisdictions now require, is a certain level of verification to better separate the false alarms from the real ones. Two-way voice–when a subscriber is home–works to connect the operator with someone on site to ask for a password and give an update on the status of the location.

Two-Way Voice Monitoring is designed to do the following:

  • Provide a verified response from the subscriber to help reduce false dispatches and avoid fines
  • Connect an immobilized subscriber with an operator
  • Connect the operator with the most direct source of information after an alarm is triggered.

How Has Monitoring progressed From Two-Way Voice?

Two-way voice was originally implemented as a solution before cell phones had become commonplace. Most systems function using landline communication paths and only recently adopted VoIP connection capabilities.

Some of the problems with two-way voice are:

  • Most burglaries happen during the day when fewer subscribers are home. When no one is home to talk to the panel, it is an irrelevant feature.
  • The communication portal (the control panel) is not mobile, so a subscriber three rooms down a hallway will not be able to communicate with the operator.
  • If no one answers through the panel, the operator still has to make individual calls to contacts.

To combat these issues, some new technology has become available. Several new IP camera systems have become available to DIY consumers in addition to modern communication methods.

Secure Group Chats

In the event that an alarm is triggered and noone is home, or everyone has left the office for the day, a group chat can be sent to every contact on a list, simultaneously. Because of its instant nature, a group chat connects more people to provide insights to the nature of an alarm. For example, if a single person stays to work late one day, but only the fourth contact down the list knows about it, they can inform the group within seconds, rather than waiting 4-5 minutes to be called.

IP Camera Video Feeds

Another method that delivers better accuracy is cloud-hosted video. Because of its wireless nature and often direct integration with the central station, users are able to see a section of the video from the area where the alarm was tripped. Many motion detectors are accidentally triggered by the neighbor’s cat or a billowing tarp. A direct video feed to a subscriber’s cell phone and even the central station allow additional people to verify the nature of an alarm.


Two-way voice is an old, but still living method of verifying the nature of an alarm. Most users aren’t at home when most real burglaries take place. It seems to work best in commercial spaces rather than in homes, because people are more likely present to communicate with an operator if an emergency were to take place. More home security companies should push modern technology that allows users to communicate conveniently and even collaborate on alarm scenarios to request dispatch or disregard accordingly.

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