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Alarm Industry Glossary

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

A

AC PowerAC power is a form of electricity that is supplied from a plug-in transformer and is measured by the number of cycles it produces.

Access Control: Access Control is a form of security that restricts access to unauthorized users at predetermined checkpoints, usually doorways, or building lobbies. Varying levels of access can be granted to personnel based on their needs and responsibilities. 

Affiliated Monitoring: One of the larger wholesale monitoring companies in the United States, Affiliated Monitoring is characterized by its strong focus on the PERS industry and PERS event, Catalyst. 

Alarm: An alarm can take both audible and visual forms to emit warnings to device users and alarm monitoring centers alike. Alarms typically use loud and bright signals to avoid any confusion about whether or not there is an emergency. 

Alarm Battery: Batteries can be used to power wireless alarm devices or security system control panels as backup power sources or primary sources. Lithium batteries generally last longer than traditional alkaline alarm batteries.

Alarm Communication Path: The Alarm Communication Path is the method a security system uses to communicate with a monitoring center. The Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) is the most common type of communication path that is used in security systems.

With advances in wireless technologies, other more secure communication paths such as cellular alarm monitoring are gaining popularity. Internet protocol (IP) monitoring and dual path (Cellular/IP) monitoring are some other communication paths that do not require a hardwired telephone line to be present at the property.

Alarm Device: In addition to the central panel where the security system is controlled, additional peripheral devices can be attached to the panel to detect emergency events and communicate them to the panel. Some examples of devices are glass break sensors, door sensors and fire detectors. 

Alarm Factor: An indicator that measures the health of an installation company's signal traffic. Calculated weekly or monthly, an alarm factor is calculated by dividing the total number of accounts by the number of signals received by the monitoring center. Companies that have a poor alarm factor may have installation issues or poor customer education systems in place. 

Alarm Notification Device: One option security systems can include is an audible or visual alarm system that alerts people in a designated area. They are designed to be exceptionally loud and/or bright in order to remove any doubt about the nature of the alarm (e.g. sirens, speakers, strobes, etc.). 

Alarm Event: Once an emergency has been detected by a device, an alarm event is communicated to the control panel which forwards the signal to the central station.

Alarm Monitoring: Devices that track emergency situations can be connected to an alarm monitoring service which ensures that users are protected at all hours of the day by a central station operator.

Alarm Signal: The first event that occurs, once an emergency has been detected, is initiated by an alarm device and transmitted by a control panel to a monitoring center. Depending on the type of signal and account instructions, the operator will either call the subscriber or alert emergency services immediately. 

Alarm Transmitter: Within the alarm device itself, another electronic device wirelessly transmits an alarm signal from an alarm device to a burglar alarm control panel. Without the transmitter, the detection has no communication path to take. 

Alarm Verification: Once an alarm is received by the central station, depending on the type of alarm, it must first be verified to ensure that an actual intrusion has taken place. One way operators can investigate is by leveraging an integrated video feed, which utilizes cameras that are installed in the same area as the alarm device so the central station operators can review the feed to determine what caused the alarm.

Audio verification utilizes microphones that record audio which operators can review. Call verification requires that an operator connect with a user to verify the alarm. 

Ambient Temperature: Within a building space, the ambient temperature measures the environment surrounding an alarm device. In addition to home and commercial automation, temperature measurement is crucial for environmental monitoring where regulation compliance maintains the life of a product. 

Apprehension: Local police officers are responsible for the investigation and apprehension of people who break laws. An apprehension is the arrest of a suspected criminal which results from the police department responding to an alarm.

Arm: In order to activate an alarm system, it must be "armed." In other words, so that a device can be armed, it must be activated so it is ready to detect an alarm event.

Arming Sequence: The arming sequence is the amount of time a security system takes to go from its armed status to its disarmed status.

Artificial Intelligence: Also known as machine intelligence, it is a form of intelligence that is demonstrated by machines. Essentially, machines using artificial intelligence are capable of perceiving its environment and taking actions that help it to achieve a goal. 

Audio Verification: Once an alarm has been triggered, an operator can use recorded audio from the area an alarm was triggered in order to investigate its validity. This does not always paint a clear picture since burglars do not need to make a lot of noise when entering a premises. 

Audible Alarm: Once a predetermined parameter has been broken, and a signal has been sent to the alarm panel, an audible alarm emits a high pitched sound to alert people in a given area that an emergency situation has occurred or is occurring. 

Authority Level: An authority level is a designation that is assigned to each user on a device which determines the specific functions or areas a user can access. For example, not all users are allowed to change core functions in an alarm panel, just as much as not all people are allowed to access specific areas like homes or areas of an office building. 

Auxiliary Panic Keys: Programmed to activate different types of distress signals (Burglar, Fire, Hold Up/Panic, Medical). Always work, regardless of whether or not the main security system is armed.

B

Back-Up Alarm Battery: In the event that a device loses connection to electricity, a back-up alarm battery ensures that a security system will continue to work after losing AC power. Back-up alarm batteries typically power a system for a 24-hour period.

Bandwidth: In an internet connection, bandwidth is the capacity of the transmission medium stated in bits per second and as a frequency. It can also be the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time. For digital devices, the bandwidth is usually expressed in bits per second (bps) or bytes per second. For analog devices, the bandwidth is expressed in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz).

Babysitter Code: When someone other than a primary user needs to disarm a system when visiting, a lower-authority user code can arm the security system anytime, but can only disarm the system if the babysitter code was used to arm it. . Once the system has been armed with a normal user code the babysitter code will no longer function to disarm it.

Biometrics: An alternative to using passcode access methods, biometrics is the mehtod of identifying an individual based on physiological or behavioral inputs such as matching eye patterns, fingerprints or voice tone. 

Biometric Code: Used on some locks; provides greater security than a numbered code on a standard lock. Only the individual with the exact fingerprint, DNA, or different type of identifying input can open the lock.

Blockchain: Originally designed to protect virtual currency transactions, blockchain introduces unparallelled security features that can be leveraged in IoT devices. It uses multiple networks to create an coded message that requires network consensus before it can be changed.

Burglar: Someone who gains unauthorized access to a residential or commercial area to steal items of value. 

Burglar Alarm System: An electronic system that consists of alarm devices that are connected to a control panel through a low-voltage, hardwire or narrowband RF wireless signal. A burglar alarm system can be monitored professionally by a central station or individually by the user

Burglary: An unauthorized entry of a secure location which results in the damage and/or theft of property.

Business Security: Securing the property and assets of a business or organization using burglar alarm systems, access control systems, and/or video surveillance. Businesses, due to the large number of people using the security systems, often need multiple user codes and sometimes utilize scheduled armings and disarming.

Bypass: To bypass a zone is to remove it from service by directing the security system to ignore a specified area. A bypass can be automatically removed when the security system is disarmed.

C

Call Verification: After an alarm signal is received in the central station, the operator makes several call verifications to investigate whether or not a received signal is due to a false alarm. The first call made is usually to the site where the alarm occurred. If the call is answered, the operator asks for a password from a pre-assigned person. If there the call goes unanswered, depending on local dispatch regulations, a call will be made to have police investigate the situation. If the local regulations require it, the operator will try several other phone numbers to try and reach someone. In some jurisdictions, operators are required to call at least two different phone numbers before requesting dispatch. This is called Enhanced verification, and it has been found to significantly reduce false alarms. 

Caller ID Injection: In order to have calls from the wholesale monitoring center appear to come from the customer-facing company, the wholesale monitoring center can provide Caller ID Injection. This service helps increase answer rates and improve customer experience because the name correlates with the company the customer chose to work with.

Carbon Monoxide Detector (CO): A device that detects the presence of the toxic gas carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless compound which is lethal at high concentration. If enough carbon monoxide is detected, the device sounds an alarm, giving people in the area a chance to ventilate the area or safely leave the building. Carbon monoxide is produced from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels.

Category 5 (Cat-5) Wire: A twisted cable that is designed to withstand a high signal rate. It is commonly referred to as Cat-5 wire and has since been superseded by the “Category 5e” specification. The Cat-5 cable is most frequently used to construct computer networks,  and is also used to carry additional signals such as basic voice services, token ring, and ATM data.

Cellular Alarm Monitoring: A type of alarm communication path that uses a digital cellular network to send alarm signals from the control panel to a monitoring center's cellular receivers. This type of alarm monitoring requires a digital cellular communicator that is hardwired into the security system and a cellular monitoring contract. Cellular monitoring does not require phone lines, and there is no chance of the purposeful or accidental cutting of your alarm communication line. Therefore, cellular monitoring is one of the most reliable ways to monitor a security system. Cellular devices can also be mobile, providing an opportunity for the central station to monitor the physical location of the devices as necessary. 

Central Monitoring Station: The operations center where signals are received and emergency action is taken. Central stations typically monitor security systems, PERS devices, fire and gas alarms, as well as a collection of Internet of Things (IoT) devices

Central Station Operator: A person who works in a central monitoring station whose job is to respond to incoming alarm signals and follow appropriate dispatch procedures. The best central station operators  are empathetic, pay close attention to detail and have a deep passion for service. 

Central Station Redundancy: When a disaster hits, central station redundancy ensures that device users will continue to be protected, even if a major system in the central monitoring station loses functionality. 

Central Station Technology: In order to properly protect subscribers, central station technology must consist of an advanced array of primary and backup systems that eliminate downtime in the event of a natural disaster or system malfunction, otherwise known as redundancy. Central station technology serves as the backbone to any monitoring operation. 

Commercial Security: a form of security system that is specifically designed for office spaces, warehouses, restaurants, retail spaces and others. Commercial security systems typically differ from residential systems in the way they are scaled to accommodate multiple users and a collection of sensors in specific areas for better emergency detection. 

Control Panel: The central unit that controls the sensors and detectors it is connected to. In essence, it is the brain of the entire security system. Each sensor reports to the control panel so it can translate them and determine if they need to be forwarded to the central monitoring station.  

COPS Monitoring: One of the largest wholesale monitoring companies in the United States, COPS Monitoring is best known for its heavy focus in the security monitoring industry. Because of its single large client, COPS has a heavy concentration risk factor, leaving its other clients at potential risk if the client were to switch providers. 

D

Detector: A sensor that is dedicated to identifying significant changes in environmental factors such as: gas levels, temperature, brightness and sound frequencies. Detectors that belong to a monitored system always communicate to a central panel. 

Digital Cellular Communicator: An electronic device that delivers a cellular connection between a security system and the central monitoring station. Cellular communicators have built-in SIM cards and leverage pre-existing wireless networks. It sends alarm signals from the security system to the central monitoring station without the need for a POTS line. Because of its lack of wires, a cellular communicator is much more secure than a traditional wires that can be cut. 

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL): A related collection of technologies that transmits data through a local telephone network. DSL can be used at the same time–and on the same telephone line with regular telephone transmissions–as it uses high frequency, while telephone lines use low frequency. Alarm communications can be transmitted over DSL but they require a special filter to prevent interference between the two.

Disarm: The action of turning off the control panel of a security system. In this stage, none of the sensors will be monitoring alarm events like opening doors, breaking glass, and more. 

Dispatch: The operating service that relays event information to emergency responders like the fire department and the police department. Dispatch is also the action that is made which requests emergency assistance.

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Security: A more contemporary form of security system that does not require extensive installation skills such as running wires, configuring complex systems or setting up professional monitoring services. DIY systems are the preferred style of security for residential users since the systems are mobile and do not require professional monitoring.  

Door/Window Contact: made of a transmitter and a magnet, the contact sensor tracks the opening of windows or doors and communicates events to the central panel.

Dual Interface Poll (DIP): a collection of switches that allow you to configure the circuit board of an emergency detection device or alarm control panel in order to activate and change its functionality.

Dual Path (Cellular/IP) Digital Communicator: An electronic device that provides both internet protocol (IP) and cellular connection points for alarm monitoring purposes. This type of communicator hardware typically uses the IP path as the primary method because an IP signal can be constantly polled for connectivity. As soon as the IP signal is lost, the alarm communicator automatically switches to the cellular pathway. That method requires the use of a  built-in SIM card to communicate over an existing wireless network. A cellular/IP communicator sends alarm signals from the security system to the central monitoring station without the need for a POTS line. Dual path monitoring is more reliable than monitoring over a phone line because it has redundant signal communication paths.

Duress Code: A silent method of alerting the monitoring center operator that the user is in need of emergency help without letting the perpetrator know. Using this method, the user enters a four digit code into the control panel that tells the operator to send emergency help immediately. From the perpetrator’s perspective, the code simply disarms the system.

E

Electronic Security Association (ESA): The Electronic Security Association is the largest trade association for security and life safety companies in the United States. The ESA provides training, government advocacy, advice and tools to help members grow their businesses. ESA members employ more than 500,000 individuals and serve more than 34 million clients.

Enhanced Call Verification (ECV): A form of alarm verification where a central station operator places two phone calls before requesting emergency dispatch services. ECV is quickly being adopted by jurisdictions across the country since it has proven to be an effective form of  false alarm reduction and helps lower the costs that cities and states waste responding to false alarms.

Entry/Exit Delay: When a user enters an area that is monitored by a security system, a built-in delay begins counting to give the user time to enter the required passcode. Implementing entry/exit delays helps to avoid setting off alarms when it’s not necessary. Predetermined delays can last 15 to 120 seconds before the alarm signal is sent to the central station.

Entry/Exit Zone: A zone in a home or commercial space that is used to enter or exit the premises. In homes, these zones monitor front and back doors as well as garage doors. For commercial spaces, these zones usually protect the front door and back doors.

Environmental Monitoring: Environmental monitoring is a form of monitoring that measures gas levels, light, temperatures or water presence. Each type of sensor measures environmental factors that signal undesired changes and even threats to human health. Some examples of environmental sensors can be found in hospital refrigerators to protect medication, mine shafts to check for deadly gases, manufacturing plants for regulation compliance and even homes to check for flooding.

Electronic Security Expo (ESX): The electronic security expo is one of the largest trade shows for security and life safety companies. It is a national show that is designed to help professionals find learning resources, network with new potential partners, and know what is coming next.

Ethernet: The most common type of internet network connection point that is commonly used in internet-based alarm systems, and especially Internet of Things devices.

Expander: A device that extends the capabilities and scalability of a security system. It typically refers to zone expanders which provide additional zones for a security system beyond the manufactured default.

External Sirens: An audible alert system that reaches much higher decibels than indoor alarms. These are designed to alert people in the surrounding area of an emergency event.

F

Facial Recognition: An advanced capability that is now being implemented in security cameras to help law enforcement locate individuals. Facial Recognition technology will eventually be able to recognize people and perform several smart functions like adjusting temperature in a room, unlocking doors and even sending emergency alerts. 

Factory Mutual (FM) Approved: Factory Mutual is a world leader in third-party testing and certification services. They specialize in property-loss prevention products and services in the commercial and industrial spaces. Their inspection processes are backed by scientific research and on-site testing.

Fall Detection: A feature in many PERS and mPERS devices that tracks critical movement of users to identify potentially harmful falls and tumbles. A controversial feature in the PERS industry, fall detection has a great potential to help a lot of seniors, but improvements need to be made first. 

False Alarm: In the alarm monitoring industry, a false alarm is a report to local dispatch services that is was not caused by a real emergency event. False alarms are caused by a handful of factors and cost cities millions of dollars per year. Significant efforts to reduce false alarms should be made in order to avoid restrictive legislation that puts subscriber lives at risk and that cost companies millions in fine-related money.

False Alarm Password: After the central station operator calls the site where an alarm was triggered, if the event was a false alarm, the user can provide a word, name, or number to verify its status.

Fingerprint Verification: Refers to the automated method of verifying a match between an individual’s fingerprints and stored data on file. Fingerprints are one of many forms of biometrics used to identify an individual and verify their identity.

Fire Alarm: An alarm that is caused by an active fire alarm system that detects smoke, a significant rise in temperature or the effects of fire. A monitored fire alarm system notifies the occupants in a home or commercial space, notifies persons in the surrounding area, summons the fire service, and controls all the fire alarm components in a building. Fire alarm systems include alarm devices, alarm notification devices, fire alarm control panels, fire annunciators, power supplies, and wiring.

Fire Alarm Monitoring: When a fire starts, the installed detection system is designed to alert the occupants of a building and send a signal the central station where it is monitored. Fire alarm monitoring is designed to remove the worry and human error from the people involved in the emergency scenario and deliver fire department help as quickly as possible.

Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP): The fire alarm control panel is the central computer or “brains” of a fire alarm system. Every device on the security system reports back to the control panel with supervisory signals and alarm signals. An FACP can be connected with a central monitoring station through several unique signal communication paths, reducing the chances of the signal being lost on the way to the central monitoring station.

Fire Alarm System: A type of security system that contains a fire alarm control panel, alarm devices, alarm notification devices, fire alarm control panels, fire annunciators, power supplies, and wiring. Most fire alarm systems must be designed and installed to the codes of the local jurisdiction because they are meant for life safety purposes.

Fire Annunciator: A fire alarm system device that provides remote control capability of critical system functions such as system reset, signal silence, acknowledge, and drill.

Flood Detector: A security system device that consists of an alarm transmitter and a probe that detects the presence of water. The transmitter can have a hardwired or wireless setup and is typically mounted far above the level water would ever be expected so the transmitter’s circuitry is safe. The probe is then mounted a few inches off the ground so that flooding is detected as early as possible.

FM Approved: See Factory Mutual

Freeze Sensor: A security system device that sends an emergency signal when the temperature of a given space drops below a critical point. Different from temperature sensors, freeze sensors are only designed to detect low temperatures. Freeze sensors are most commonly used to monitor rooms with water pipes in order to prevent the pipes from breaking.

G

General Packet Radio Service (GPRS): GPRS is a packet-based wireless communication service. It is based on Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) and complements existing services like Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). GPRS packet based services are faster and cost less than circuit-switched services since communication channels are used on a shared-use, as-packets-are-needed basis instead of dedicated to one user at a time.

Glassbreak Detector (GBD): A security system device that detects the sound frequency made by breaking glass. A glassbreak detector houses a highly sensitive microphone that can detect the exact frequency of broken glass. GDBs, along with motion detectors, are devices used for interior monitoring to provide another layer of protection beyond exterior monitoring. One GBD can usually protect every window in a room and should be mounted on the wall across from the windows it is meant to protect. GBDs are preferable over motion detectors when large animals live in the alarms premise, since they work while the security system is in stay mode without causing false alarms.

Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): A piece of legislation that was adopted by the European Parliament in April 2016 that regulates how companies protect EU citizens' personal data. The GDPR is a heavy-hitting topic since it affects even companies that aren't based out of the European Union and sets a precedent for businesses around the globe. 

Global Positioning System (GPS): The global positioning system is a free service provided by the United States government. It is structured by several satellites that orbit the earth and require cloudless skies to function. GPS monitoring is frequently implemented in PERS devices, crash detection and lone worker devices so emergency help can be sent to the exact location of the incident.

Google Duplex: An advanced personal assistant that is capable of setting appointments, understanding accents and holding adaptive conversation with people. Google Duplex is the most advanced personal assistant available to users and surpasses the capabilities of Siri.

GPS Monitoring: a form of monitoring that identifies the location of a user’s device after an emergency event. GPS monitoring not only leverages the existing Global Positioning System network of orbiting satellites, but can also use cellular networks to track a user’s location. In a typical monitoring scenario, cellular locating is more accurate because of its ability to track users inside of buildings and even under cloudy skies.

H

Heat Detector: A burglar alarm or fire alarm device that detects a preset high temperature or a rapid rate-of-rise (ROR) in temperature. Heat detectors can be either electrical or mechanical in operation. The most common types are thermocouple and electro-pneumatic, both of which respond to changes in ambient temperature. If the ambient temperature rises above a predetermined threshold, then an alarm signal is triggered. Heat detectors are better than smoke detectors for areas where smoke would normally be found such as a kitchen or smoking lounge, since they do not produce as many false alarms.

Hidden Camera: A security camera that is strategically placed to avoid detection by intruders. The camera is considered to be "hidden" when it is not visible to the subject being filmed, or is disguised as another object. Hidden cameras have become popular for household video surveillance and can be integrated with common household objects such as smoke detectors, clock radios, motion detectors, ball caps, plants, and cell phones. Hidden cameras may also be used for commercial purposes.

Holdup Switch: A form of panic button that is similar to a duress code without the complexity of a passcode. When a holdup switch is activated, it sends an alarm to the central monitoring station and requires the immediate dispatch request. These devices are usually mounted underneath a checkout counter or underneath a bank teller’s workstation so that a person in distress can discreetly activate it. When a holdup switch is activated, it does not create an audible alarm so that the intruder is not made aware.

Home Security: A form of protection from burglaries, intrusions and environmental hazards that uses devices to detect movement, changes in environmental statuses, unauthorized entryway access or the breaking of glass.

Hybrid Monitoring: An alternative approach to central station monitoring, Hybrid Monitoring gives security companies with in-house central stations access to industry-leading alarm automation and central station redundancy.

I

Infrared: A type of alarm detection device that is most often found in motion detectors. Infrared detectors are designed to distinguish changes in electromagnetic radiation as opposed to normal light changes. LEDs used on security cameras often use infrared technology to emit more light.

Installer Code: A four digit code that is used to access the programming functions on a security system’s control panel. Once a user access the programming menu, the system can be taken over by competing security companies and even high-tech intruders to disarm the system. It is good practice, therefore to keep the installer code a secret.

Integrated Service Digital Network (ISDN): The ISDN is an international communications standard for sending voice, video, and data over digital telephone lines or traditional telephone copper wire.

Internet-Based Alarm Monitoring: An alarm communication path that uses an Ethernet connection to send an alarm signal over the internet from the control panel to a central monitoring station’s IP receivers. This type of alarm monitoring requires an IP communicator hardwired into the security system and an internet monitoring contract. The benefits of internet monitoring are that no phone line is required which reduces the possibility a communication line being cut on purpose or accident. In addition, internet communication is not expensive, and it is fully supervised so the connection is constantly polled by the central station received.

Internet of Things (IoT): The internet of things is a term that describes a network of devices that are connected to the internet. As it becomes more popular, the IoT reduces the number of devices that are connected by wires and increases opportunities for companies to implement innovative ways to improve business processes, monitor more effectively and reduce the chances of manual system takeovers. However, as new technology advances, IoT devices present new challenges as people with nefarious intent can access vulnerabilities in devices to access a network.

IoT Monitoring: As more devices become internet-based as opposed to being connected to traditional landlines, IoT Monitoring produces additional capabilities that help event monitoring devices do more.

Internet Protocol (IP): A data-oriented protocol used for communicating across a packet switched inter-network.

Internet Protocol Address (IP Address): A unique 12 digit code that identifies a computer or device on an IP network. XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX is the format IP addresses take with each group of Xs representing a number between 0 and 255. IP networks use the IP address to forward messages between different devices on the network.

Intrusion: See Burglary

Ionization Detection: A type of smoke detection that used in most smoke detectors since it is inexpensive and even better at detecting smaller amounts of smoke produced by fires. Smoke detectors using ionization detection use an ionization chamber and a source of ionizing radiation to detect smoke.

IP Video: A counterpart to traditional CCTV video feeds, IP video monitoring presents new opportunities for security systems to integrate with central monitoring stations and deliver additional levels of verification during alarm events.

J

There are no definitions that start with the letter "J" at this time.

K

Keyfob: A remote that can be attached to a key ring and is used to arm and disarm a security system with the touch of a button. Keyfob buttons can usually be programmed for many different functions such as: arming panic alarms, granting access to restricted areas, turning on lights and other tasks.

Key Holder: The person who is responsible for operating a given security system and has the highest-level access to a property or commercial space. It is important that the keyholder has the proper authority and access because in the event that an alarm goes off, they will receive a call from the central station operator and will need to meet with emergency response representatives when they arrive.

Keypad: The control center for the central panel in a security or fire system. Typically found at every entry area to an alarmed location, keypads often allow one touch arming and disarming as well among other functionalities. Some keypads are more advanced and are capable of following voice-based commands or have touch screens.

L

Life Safety Device: A device that is designed to protect someone’s life or property. These devices take many forms. Some of those are: PERS devices (medical alert system), fire alarms, panic buttons and deadly gas detection systems.

Local Area Network (LAN): A collection of computers and other internet-capable devices that share a communication line within a building or collection of buildings.

Local Smoke Detector: A battery-powered smoke detector that is not monitored by a central monitoring station. These devices are typically installed in buildings where local codes require a certain number of local smoke detectors that can warn occupants of a potential emergency.

Local Security System: An intrusion detection system that is not monitored by a central monitoring station. The local security system style is becoming more popular with the advent of DIY security systems because of the lower cost and ease of installation. Systems that automatically request police dispatch, however, cause serious false alarm problems and make impending legislation more harsh for legitimate monitoring operations.

M

Master Code: The most powerful four digit user code a security system has. It comes with additional privileges that allow the user to delete other user codes among other things.

Medical Alarm System: A life safety system consisting of an electronic device worn on a bracelet or necklace and a control panel that can auto dial telephone numbers or dial a central monitoring station when the device is activated by the user. Depending on the severity of the situation, alarm monitoring staff will summon friends, family, or emergency personnel.

Medical Alert Monitoring Association (MAMA): The Medical Alert Monitoring Association is the only trade association that addresses the needs of the Personal Emergency Response Services industry. AvantGuard’s long-time investment in this industry made it an obvious choice to join MAMA and promote its presence among PERS dealers throughout North America.

Mobile Personal Emergency Response System (mPERS): a personal emergency response device that allows the user to maintain their monitored status to travel outside of the home and away from the POTS connection. Mobile PERS devices are quickly becoming the standard for monitored PERS devices because of their mobil nature and geolocation capabilities.

Monitored Security System: A security system that is continually under watch by a professional central monitoring station. Most security systems are designed to first warn the intruders that the intrusion is being tracked, then the monitoring portion follows up with the hope of catching the intruder and investigating the scene.

Monitored Smoke Detector: Monitored smoke detectors go a step further than normal smoke detectors by adding an extra level of protection to the structure and its occupants. While a local smoke detector will only sound a local siren, a monitored smoke detector sounds a local siren and also sends an alarm signal to a central monitoring station so that the local fire department can be sent to investigate the scene.

Motion Activated Cameras: A security camera that is set to record based on the detection of motion. These cameras can either distinguish pixilation changes to begin the recording, or they can use built-in motion detectors to activate the recording.

Motion Detector: A security device that uses passive infrared or microwave detection to detect motion in a monitored premise. Some motion detectors are capable of utilizing dual technology detection and even have pet immunity to prevent false alarms.

Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS): A telecommunications standard for transmitting messages that contain multimedia objects such as images, video, audio, or rich text. It is an extension of the SMS standard that allows for longer message lengths and is used most often in sending picture text messages.

N

National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA): What has since been renamed the Electronic Security Association (ESA), the NBFAA is the largest professional non-profit 501(c) 6 trade association in the United States. It exists to represent, promote and enhance the growth and professional development of the electronic life safety, security, and integrated systems industry.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): The National Fire Protection Association is the leading source of information and knowledge in the fire and electrical hazard protection industries. It’s core regulating document is commonly known as NFPA 72. All installation companies that work with fire detection systems have to comply with NFPA 72 in order to legally operate.

NFPA 72: the core regulating document that addresses smoke alarms and how they should operate. NFPA 72 includes details about requirements for mass notification systems in weather emergencies, terrorist events, biological, chemical, and nuclear emergencies among other threats.

O

Opening/Closing Reports: A security system that is programmed for openings and closings will send a signal to a central monitoring station every time the system is armed or disarmed. The central monitoring station can then print out a report of these openings and closings so that the user can monitor the use of his or her security system.

Operating Procedures: See “standard operating procedures”

Optical Detection (Photoelectric): A type of smoke detection that is better at detecting smoky or smoldering fires as it detects changes in light. When a room fills with smoke there is less light available to the optical sensor in the smoke detector and an alarm is triggered. This type of smoke detector is not as good at detecting flaming fires because there won’t be enough of a light change to set off the device.

P

Panic Alarm: A feature in many security systems that allows the user to request an immediate dispatch. With the panic alarm feature, no call verification is needed since the user has to enter a passcode before the alarm is sent to the central station.

Partition: A segmented section of a security system. Users can setup partitions so that one area of the system can be armed while the other areas stay unarmed. For instance, an inventory room can be partitioned from the rest of the store so that while people are working, the main areas are unarmed and the inventory room stays protected.

Perimeter: An area that is usually assigned to all Exterior sensors and contacts connected to doors and windows. The idea behind protecting the perimeter of a home or business is that intrusions can be detected as soon as possible. With interior protection, users don’t receive an alarm until the intruder walks in front of an interior protection sensor.

PERS Monitoring: A form of personal protection that tracks a person’s personal health status and can be triggered by the user or by the device when it senses a fall. PERS monitoring is a preferred method of personal protection for many seniors who want to maintain their independence and not have to pay to live in an assisted living facility.

Personal Emergency Response System (PERS): A device that allows a user to send an alert to a monitoring center when they are in distress. These events often occur after a fall, emergency health event and even personal attack events. PERS devices have even been adapted to help protect lone workers.

Passive Infrared Motion Detector (PIR): An alarm device that measures infrared (IR) light radiating from objects in its field of view to sense motion and activate an alarm. Once the PIR motion detector is installed, it settles into a normal state with a normal temperature. Apparent motion is detected when an infrared source with another temperature, such as a human, passes in front of the PIR detector and changes the normal temperature causing an alarm.

Pet Immunity: A feature in motion detectors that enables the system to disregard the movement of animals of a specific size in order to reduce false alarms. Pet immunity can usually be obtained by reducing the sensitivity of a motion detector so that a fairly large object would need to be present in order to trigger an alarm.

Phone Line Monitoring: An alarm communication path that uses a POTS line to send alarm signals from the control panel to the central monitoring station. In order to implement this communication style, the user must have access to a standard phone. Users should be aware, however, that phone line monitoring is susceptible to tampering by intruders because all phone lines are exposed on the outside of homes.

Presidential Alert: A communication system employed by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency to alert US citizens of impending terror threats and natural disasters. The first presidential alert took place on Wednesday, October 3 and unknowingly triggered thousands of glass-break sensors because of the similar frequencies each use.

Preventative Maintenance: The act of regularly inspecting a security system and its alarm devices to verify that all devices are working properly. Preventative maintenance ensures a security system will work when it is needed.

Priority Dispatch: A quicker dispatch request that can be used by security system users that that utilize additional forms of verification. In these instances, no call verification is needed and therefore the police respond to the alarm immediately. One form of additional verification can be found in integrated video monitoring which delivers a video feed directly to the central monitoring station.

Proximity Card: A badge, tag, or card that allows a user to access a restricted area when placed close to a card reader.

Proximity Reader: An access control device that controls an electronic lock. When a proximity card is placed near a proximity reader access is granted.

Q

There are no definitions that start with the letter "Q" at this time.

R

Rate-of-Rise (ROR) Heat Detectors: A type of heat detector that triggers an alarm when a predetermined amount of change in temperature is registered in a given window of time. (e.g. 20°change in a five-minute period)

Recessed Door/Window Contact: A door or window contact that is inlayed into the frame of a door or window to match the surface level. This typically consists of a magnet that is drilled into the side edge of the door or window and an alarm transmitter that is aligned with the magnet and inserted into the door or window frame. This form of door contact  provides a clean aesthetic since it cannot be seen when the door or window is closed.

Redundancy: See “Central Station Redundancy"

Remote Keypad: A control keypad that is not fixed to a wall or control panel. Remote keypads can arm and disarm a security system from a distance. While this form of control is convenient, it provides additional opportunities for unauthorized access and tamporing.

Repeater: A device that receives an alarm signal and retransmits it at a higher level so it can travel farther distances without losing connectivity. It extends the communication ranges between control panels and the sensors.  

Router: A device that provides IP address routing, network address translation, DHCP functions, firewall functions, and LAN connectivity similar to a network switch. If the router is wireless, it can also provide connectivity for all wireless alarm devices on the LAN.

Runner Service: A service provided by a fire alarm monitoring company in which a trained fire alarm system agent is sent out to every fire alarm. Typically the runner service has to be performed within one hour of the initial fire alarm. A technician is sent out to a fire alarm to reset the panel in the event of an alarm or diagnose the electrical problem in the event of a false alarm.

S

Security Camera: A device that is used to record activity for an assigned area. These can record onto closed circuit systems or directly onto a cloud server where the recorded footage can be forwarded to a central monitoring station in the event of an alarm.

Security Company: A professional organization that specializes in installing, servicing, and/or monitoring security systems for residential and/or commercial spaces.

Security System: A system comprised of a control panel, sensors and trigger points that monitor for unauthorized behavior. Most security systems use devices like security cameras, smoke detectors, door and window contact sensors, and motion detectors to prevent property damage and theft as well as protect human life and aid local police departments in apprehending offenders.

Short Message Service (SMS): A form of telecommunications that transmits and receives text messages through the GSM data channel. Secure SMS messages can now be used to connect users on an account to manage alarm events and request or disregard emergency dispatch services.

Silent Alarm: An alarm that is designed to not make any noise in the event of an intrusion in order to protect occupants of a building and even to give local law enforcement time to arrive and apprehend intruders.

Siren: A feature in many security system devices that emits a loud, high-pitched sound that scares away trespassers and alerts nearby witnesses that an alarm event has occurred. These are frequently employed in security and smoke detection systems.

Smoke Detector: A device that is designed to detect gas that is created by fires and other hazardous sources. Many smoke detectors are capable of tracking carbon monoxide gas, which is a silent killer and in its natural form is unnoticeable to the human nose.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): A set of guidelines that help the operations team of a central station know the most efficient method to react to security and PERS alarms. Any deviation from the SOPs is likely to reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of the monitoring operation.

Stages Monitoring Software: Stages is the most advanced monitoring automation software available to central stations in the alarm monitoring industry. It allows central stations to perform a high rate of functions with minimal effort on the operator end.

Storm Queue: In order to handle the massive influx of signals that occur because of a hurricane or natural disaster, Storm Queue, a feature in the Stages automation software, partitions low priority signals from high-priority signals.  

Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Cards: It stores the service-subscriber key that is used to identify a subscriber for mobile communication devices. The SIM card grants the user access to the wireless network of whichever service provider is used based on the chosen service plan.

Supervisory Signal: An alarm signal that monitors an alarm device or alarm control panel. Wireless security system control panels constantly send out requests to all the programmed devices on the system. When an alarm device does not respond, the control panel sends a supervisory signal to the central monitoring station detailing the device that needs service.

T

Takeover: An industry term that describes the process of reprogramming a monitored security system so that it communicates to a different central alarm monitoring station.

Talking Keypad: A form of security system keypad that that functions as a typical control panel keypad that can also audibly communicate the system status and additional notices to the user in English.

Temperature Sensor: An environmental security system device that sends an alarm when an undesirable and potentially hazardous temperature is reached, or a rapid change in temperature occurs. Temperature sensors are different from freeze sensors because they are able to detect abnormally high and low temperatures.

Thermal Imaging Camera: A camera that is designed to produce an image that shows temperature ranges instead of normal light reflections. Companies like Flir produce thermal imaging cameras for a variety of applications that require the use of temperature visualization.

TMA 5 Diamond Monitoring Center: A designation that is regulated and awarded by The Monitoring Association (TMA). Central stations that receive the five diamond award must adhere to the highest standards of safety and performance including redundancy, false alarm reduction and central station operator training.

U

UL Listed Central Station: A common way to refer to a central monitoring station that has demonstrated the ability to provide monitoring service that complies with UL’s strict standards. UL requirements cover building structure, receiving and monitoring equipment, staffing issues, as well as installation and ongoing service. In order to be able to provide UL complying service, the building, equipment and staffing requirements have to be met at all times. However, the handling of specific signals from specific alarm systems is only audited by UL if a certificate is in effect for that alarm system.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL): A United-States-based, not-for-profit, and privately owned and operated product safety testing and certification organization. Based in Northbrook, Illinois, Underwriters Laboratories develops standards and test procedures for products, materials, components, assemblies, tools and equipment–chiefly dealing with product safety.

User Code: A four digit code used to arm and disarm a security system. Certain security systems allow for multiple user codes so that you can keep track of who armed or disarmed the system.

V

Video Surveillance: A method of security monitoring that leverages cameras and a recording system to track activity in a given area. Video recordings can be stored on a DVR or cloud storage solution and can be retrieved in the event of an intrusion or other emergency. With integrated video solutions, video clips can be forwarded to a central station operator who can examine the footage for particular behaviors that warrant emergency dispatch.

Video Verification: The process of verifying that an emergency event has occurred by using video clips from a security camera that is located in the area that an alarm was triggered. Video verification can eliminate false alarms and secure priority dispatch as the authorities are certain that the alarm they are responding to is an actual incident.

Visual Alarm: A type of alarm that relies on bright flashing lights to warn occupants of a building that an emergency event is occurring. This type of alarm is usually accompanied by an audible alarm so that people with hearing or vision disabilities are all able to exit to a safe area in a timely manner.

W

Water Detector: See Flood Detector

Wholesale Alarm Monitoring: A service that is commonly included in residential and commercial security systems that adds a second layer of support when an emergency event occurs. Designed to verify situations and deliver help as quickly as possible, wholesale alarm monitoring is charged on a monthly basis and provides an added layer of convenience and security, especially when typical account holders have to handle several tasks when an emergency arises.

Wide Area Network (WAN): A computer network style that covers a broad area (any network whose communication links cross metropolitan, regional, or national boundaries). Or, less formally, a network that uses routers and public communications links. In contrast with personal area networks (PAN’s), local area networks (LAN’s), campus area networks (CAN’s), or metropolitan area networks (MAN’s) which are usually limited to a room, building, campus or specific metropolitan area (e.g., a city) respectively. The largest and most well-known example of a WAN is the Internet.

Wireless Communication: See Cellular Alarm Monitoring

Wireless Security System: A security system that does not use any wires. Each alarm device reports back to the control panel using a RF wireless signal and is typically powered by batteries.

X

There are no definitions that start with the letter "X" at this time.

Y

There are no definitions that start with the letter "Y" at this time.

Z

Zone: Each device on a wireless security system is its own zone. On hardwired security systems, users may have many similar devices on one zone. For instance, every window contact in the living room may be programmed into the same zone. Zones are used to identify which alarm device triggered the alarm event to occur, so that the central station operators can provide specific information to the responding authorities.

Zone Descriptor: A phrase that identifies the type of alarm device connected to a security system as well as the location assigned to that device. A motion detector in the living room might have a zone description of “Living Room Motion.”

Zone Expanders: Devices that provide additional zones for a security system beyond the control panels default capabilities.

#

24-Hour Audible Alarm: An alarm style that is usually assigned to a zone containing an panic/emergency button (audible emergency).

24-Hour Auxiliary Alarm: An alarm style that is usually assigned to a zone containing a button for use in personal emergencies or to a zone containing monitoring devices (i.e.: water or temperature sensors, etc.).

24-Hour Carbon Monoxide: An alarm style that is usually assigned to any wireless zone with a carbon monoxide detector. This zone type is always active and cannot be bypassed because of the nature of its role.

24-Hour Silent Alarm: An alarm style that sends a report to a central monitoring station but provides no keypad display or audible alarm sounding at the location.

24-Hour Zone: A zone that is permanently active, 24 hours a day (such as a fire zone).

5 Diamond Central Station: See “TMA Five Diamond Central Station”

5G: A network speed that will eventually succeed 4G LTE between 2019 and 2021. The 5G Sunrise has been on the horizon and is expected to help accelerate the growth of the IoT space, delivering quicker speeds and greater technological capabilities for smart devices that function  through an internet connection.