When it comes to DIY and MIY systems alarm companies and central stations need to start adapting to the future.  The industry is headed for a fundamental change in the way systems are installed and monitored.  Leading the charge are companies like ADT who is already building alliances with DIY market providers.  They are actively soliciting these providers to make ADT their monitoring center.  Expect soon to see many of the super internet giants enter the field.  There concept of monitoring is going to be totally different than what  a central station is today.  Few if any operators, using electronic verification and verified dispatch.
            An alarm is sent to the central station, automation sends an Email or MMS message with video of the event to the end users to verify.  If canceled within the specified time window the signal is just logged.  If a dispatch is requested, the alarm is sent to the PSAP electronically.  Very efficient, fast and low cost.   Not moving forward and using new technologies and services like mPERS to open new markets and create a stronger subscriber and company relationships, ultimately leaves the alarm company competing solely on price.
            Every alarm company truly believes that they have a special relationship with their subscribers, but every relation has a cost and a value.  Alarm companies and central stations needs to continually adapt to the changing future and make their service demonstratively more valuable than those provided within the DIY / MIY market
Mark S. Fischer
Technical Consultant to
SmartTek Systems
    This is in response to the DIY .... MIY issue.
    If someone doesn’t think that it is .... or in the future is going to be a problem for alarm installation and central stations, I’d suggest that they take a look at the DIY alarm forums on the Internet.
    First of all, these forums are getting anywhere from 20 to 50 inquires a day and hundreds of visitors a day not actively participating but just reading the archives to obtain information about installing their own alarms systems. That’s EACH FORUM and there are dozens. And secondly, there’s hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask about self monitoring. It’s a VERY popular subject. Using the few forums that I monitor as some indicator, I can well imagine what the combined quantity of users and "lookers" in all of these DIY forums is quite a significant number. And it has been growing over the years. Back in the mid 90's there were just a few places on line where end users could get alarm information ..... or for that matter alarm parts. Now, there are some alarm installation companies who buy the majority of their equipment on line .... and cheaper than through their local distributors. There are no obstacles to anyone getting any professional alarm equipment on line. All any end user has to do is go to an alarm DIY forum, ask some questions, get recommendation of which equipment to purchase and then go on line and buy it. There are actually "End user" distributors who sell almost exclusively to end users or unlicenced people installing alarm systems amounting in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. When the end user or non licensed alarm installer runs into a problem they come back to the forum and will get help from people who have experience in the trade or from end users who have experienced the same problems. Or the go to the manufacturers tech support departments. All of this using the same equipment that professional alarm companies use. How is this possible (?) you might ask? Hmmmm .... Asking the manufacturers gets you the old .... "we can’t control who sells our equipment on line." my answer is Oh yes you can ..... you’re just not doing it because it’s too much a part of your bottom line! ! Guess who’s products are the most used by end users? Dare I say that DSC is the dominant one followed closely by Honeywell, GE and Moose? How can this be ???? Is someone sneaking their equipment by the thousands per month out the back door of these manufacturers and secretly making it available on Amazon and Ebay? Hmm Hmm Hmm. Now tell me how much product loyalty does anyone think that this kind of skulduggery deserves by alarm installation companies? Could it be that they really don’t care? Could it be that they already see the handwriting on the wall and the only thing between the switch from selling to alarm installers and DIY’ers is by providing end users with less technically readable installation instructions and a better App to program the panels? And Oh yes, ..... guess how many end users get by the manufacturers flimsy anti end user messages on their tech lines? LOT"S!
    This leads into another issue. Verizon, Alarm.com, Control4, and others .... and soon to be followed by Google and Apple, advertising all of these control "services" to the end user .... where they install their own systems .... where does the equipment come from and what happens to the alarm installer? According to a report in CE-Pro magazine, ADT’s Pulse has over a million subscribers with over 70% of new customers choosing Pulse. Google bought Nest, Smart Home Hub and Revolv (a startup home automation company) for billions of dollars. It’s closing down Revolv. Do you think they might be serious about this trend in putting control of alarm systems and other home systems directly in the hands of the end users? Now, .... most of these services are coming from service provider companies. Where the REAL crux of the problem lies, as " I " see it .... is the fact that the very manufacturers that are providing equipment to end users that can go to these DIY forums and to the DIY service providers, are also selling equipment to us, the professional installer ..... So let’s see, these same manufacturers are manufacturing equipment with remote control capability and when we buy this equipment from them, they are charging "us" for these remote control services at a rate that requires us to charge our customers at the same or HIGHER rates as Verizon, ADT and all the other end user interactive service providers. But of course it’s feasible that they are reasoning ... why should they shut themselves off from any future market share... With their equipment already available to end users now, in the future it’ll be a pretty easy shift for the manufacturers to switch over to selling direct to our customers and providing them with the remote services at the prices they’re charging us, without them losing a penny.
    Wait a minute now.... shouldn’t the manufacturer that I’ve been loyal to for decades, be trying to make me more competitive with my deep pocket competition ? Don’t all the comparatively small alarm companies in the US combined buy more equipment from these manufacturers than all the big companies ..... combined ??? And yet I’ve got to pay the company that I’ve supported for decades, for these services at a cost that only puts me dollar for dollar in the same ball park with the giants of the industry or with the strictly service providers? Do you think that they could just pass their costs on to us at cost? .... or fold the cost into the overall cost of all their manufactured products? Do you think that they have our best interests in mind while they’re making a profit on these services? At a "substantial" profit? Do you know that it doesn’t cost any cell phone service provider any more money to provide SMS (text messaging) yet they charge us more? And then our alarm manufacturers charge "us" even more for the same service!! Also, When we buy alarm panels and sensors and equipment, we have the ability to change manufacturers for whatever the reason may be. But.....NOW... with the manufacturers selling equipment with attached proprietary services, it locks installers into these manufacturers. I don’t like that ..... not at all. Do you know that the new DSC Neo products are not backward compatible to their older products which means once you start using them, you’re "locked in" completely!
    How is it that the CCTV manufacturing industry can provide us with no cost DDNS server access (which certainly is no small expense) but the manufacturers of our alarm equipment see’s fit to extort us for profit for similar services, that requires us to compete dollar for dollar with the giants of the industry? Shouldn’t they be trying to give us an advantage? After all, we still buy their products in spite of the fact that they’ve developed and refuse to give up a back door market selling to the DIY’ers and end users who have eliminated me and are going direct with other service providers to monitor and control their own systems. Also, is there any thought given to the fact that most/all of these remote services include the ability to ..... yep .... you guessed it .... self monitor their alarm systems. Sure .... now they have to pay for the ability to do it but there are ways to do it without paying them for it.
    This scenario could be going in one of two directions. In this age of technology, do they think that no one else can make alarm equipment and provide remote services? Is it that they somehow can’t see that what they are doing is setting up the installation and central station monitoring for diminishing their market share? Or ..... is it that they CAN see that it’s not going to be too long before free App’s will be developed and inexpensive devices to become available that will allow ANYONE to install, monitor and control their own equipment .... and they’re preparing for that eventuality? For those not in the know, there’s already equipment and devices available that will do just that. Look up Mi Casa Verdi, Remote IP or Internet switches, or Homeseer, Insteon, Raspberry Pi, Arduino or any of dozens of Zwave and Zigbee remote control devices that are available. $179.00 and less and you’ve got control of your alarm, lighting, thermostat, whatever. Honeywell makes a remote controlled thermostat that’s less expensive then the NEST device that’s available at Home Depot. Right now a little expertise is required to set these products up but soon someone will package them for ease of installation by DIY’ers and installation companies who are not interested in RMR.
    And that’s another aspect. Not even considering DIY’ers, ... let me ask, .... if there were 10 potential residential or small business potential customers looking for alarm systems and and there was an alarm company not interested in RMR who was competing against an RMR company. How many of those potential customers would opt for an alarm system installed that they didn’t have to pay a monthly fee? Could I sell that and beat out an RMR company .... you bet your life I could. And if you’ve been in this business for any length of time, you know damn well that there are going to be non-RMR companies out there competing with you in the future providing all the services for free that you have to pay your manufacturer for. No term contracts either. Just month to month for the sake of liability. What’s your company going to be worth then? My prediction: (and just my opinion) In the future RMR will diminish for the small to mid size alarm installation companies and central stations will primarily monitor large commercial security and fire alarm systems. Residential and small business installation will comparatively fall off the charts and alarm installation companies will sell equipment and services outright. And the manufacturers that we buy our products from are contributing to ..... fostering ...and enabling that trend.
    I welcome other opinions.
Reliable Alarm
    When it comes to MIY security systems it is my understanding that if an individual receives an alarm signal on their phone, tablet or computer and they call the police, they have become an unlicensed and uninsured monitoring center.   While responding to their call, if an officer has an accident and someone gets hurt, this dispatching individual could be held responsible.  What is the law in this respect?
Dale Burger
Access Code Technology, Inc
    There would be no liability for police or fire getting hurt on way to premises.
    DIY and MIY deserve different considerations, in my opinion.  Alarm companies are not really offering DIY stand alone because there isn't any money in it.  They can't compete with retail operations willing to make a few bucks on the sale of the equipment, assuming any profit can be made that way.  So DIY typically comes with monitoring, and that's monitoring in the traditional way.
    More on this topic in tomorrow's article