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SEM Security Systems
a division of Southeast Mobility Inc
What is monitoring and why do I have to pay for it? Your panel sits in waiting for an alarm. When a zone is breached the panel detects that and sends in the alarm to a monitoring computer. The computer processes the alarm and displays it on a screen to a waiting operator. Some of the information that is displayed on that opening screen is your address, your name, your phone number, your password, and information about what caused the alarm. The operator picks up the phone, dials your number and waits for you to answer. If someone answers, the operator will identify themselves and ask questions to determine who you are and if you are suppose to be there. If you give them the correct password, they will bid you a good day and everyone goes on about their business. If you give them the wrong password, they will assume that you are in peril, bid you a good day and then dispatch the police. If the person that answers doesn't know the password of if no one answers, they will dispatch the police. The operator will then bring up the next screen which displays your call list. They will then go down the call list attempting to notify someone that your alarm has been activated and that the police have been dispatched and ask them if they can meet the police at your premise. All of this activity is logged by the computer and can be retrieved at a later date if needed.

We sometimes have potential customers tell us "by the time the police get here the burglar will have already escaped" and they are exactly right. What that person doesn't see is the countless homes that we've been in that have been burglarized without an alarm system. The thieves went through the home going through every closet, emptying out drawers and turning over mattresses, bottom line is that if there was anything in the home worth taking, they found it. An alarm system can not prevent a break-in, it is designed to detect a break-in and sound the sirens and report the alarm to the monitoring center. While a thief may kick in the front door and grab something in plain site, they are not going to take the time to search the home knowing that someone will be there shortly.

We once installed a camera system in a country store. During the installation we advised the owner that he really needed to install an alarm system as well. He decided that the camera system would suffice for the time being. About 3 months later he called our office and said that he needed us to come and install an alarm system. During the previous night burglars broke out the front window and entered the store wearing hoods to disguise themselves from the cameras. They cleaned out everything that was of any value and then left. Looking back at the video it was determined that the break-in occurred at 2:30 in the morning, the store owner didn't know his place has been robbed until he arrived at 6am to open his store. Would an alarm system have prevented the break-in, no. But the thieves would not have taken as much time as they did without the alarm system. They may have still broken in, and they no doubt would have taken some things but it would have been a crash and grab rather than an all out robbery. Then again, maybe the presence of an alarm system would have deterred them from breaking in in the first place.

One fact speaks for itself. Your insurance provider will normally give you a 5 to 10 percent discount on your insurance premiums if you have a monitored alarm system. You and I both know that an insurance company is not going to hand out a discount unless it benefits them. They know from history that a monitored alarm system will either deter a break-in or minimize the loss from a break-in, either way both the home owner and the insurance company comes out ahead.

And my final word about monitoring. In order for monitoring to work, there has to be communications between the monitoring computer and your alarm panel. Maintaining that communications line is your responsibility. If your system is using a POTS line, then you must keep the phone bill paid and the line in working order. If you are communicating over the internet, you must keep your network up and operating. The monitoring computer will notify your alarm company if your alarm panel doesn't check in on a regular basis, usually once a month, but if your panel indicates a trouble signal with your communications path your alarm company may not know that until a month later. It is up to you to notify your alarm company of the problem as soon as possible after it is displayed on your keypad. We want your system to work 100% of the time but you have to work with us and let us know when there is a problem.