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self-monitoring November 21, 2017

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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self-monitoring 
November 21, 2017
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self-monitoring
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Ken,
    I have a question regarding alarm systems that are "self-monitored."  We offer an alarm system that is professionally monitored, but will also send notifications via a smartphone app, text, or email.  One of our customers asked if they could forgo the professional monitoring and just use their phone app. to save the monitoring fee.  If they received a burglary notification they could just call the police themselves.  From a technical standpoint they absolutely could do this.  From a liability standpoint I am not sure I am comfortable with it.  We have purchased all of your residential contracts.  If we decided to offer this as an option what do you suggest we use as far as a contract?
    Thanks for your dedication to this market.  You are a wealth of information and I appreciate the time that you spend giving guidance and advise.
Jim 
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Response
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    I am sure that we are going to be seeing more, not less, of this.  Already many subscribers are insisting on receiving notification of alarm signals concurrently with signals going to the central station.  It doesn't take too much imagination to wonder if the central station could be eliminated.  Of course there are great arguments why professional monitoring is still the gold standard.  There could many scenarios where a subscriber who is self monitoring isn't going to be able to properly or timely respond to a signal.  
    If a subscriber wants self-monitoring with or without professionally monitoring you, the alarm dealer, have two options.  Some equipment permits notification over the Internet directly to the subscriber's Internet connected device [smartphone], but other devices transmit their signals over the Internet but the signals pass through receivers maintained by the manufacturer of software developer [vendor].  In the latter case there will be a monthly charge for use of the pass-through receivers, and that's your ticket to charging RMR.      I'm not sure which systems go through a vendor, but some examples are Napco's Starlink and Honeywell's Alarmnet.  Alarm.com would be another vendor providing that pass-through service.  
The updated Residential [or Commercial] All in One agreement covers self-monitoring.  There is a check box for the self-monitoring service.  The actual device or system and how it works would be described in the Schedule of Equipment and Services.  The printed contract does contain provisions explaining the self-monitoring.  More importantly, all of the "protective" provisions would apply to the self-monitoring with the same effect as the professional monitoring.  
    You need to be offering systems that communicate directly to your subscribers.  These latest bells and whistles are well advertised and consumers are going to demand them.  If you don't offer the devices and services then someone else will.
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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301
ken@kirschenbaumesq.com
516 747 6700
www.KirschenbaumEsq.com