Understanding the Differences Between Unmonitored and Monitored Video Security Systems
Protection against theft, vandalism, and other crimes is important. If you’re operating a business, this becomes even more crucial. When a crime happens at your property, not only does it often lead to theft or damage that hurts your bottom line, but it also disrupts the flow of business.
For companies that depend on getting things done on time, any disruption can be a serious issue. This is why it makes sense that your business may be interested in installing a security system.
When it comes to these systems, there are generally two types:
- Unmonitored security systems
- and Monitored security systems.
Understanding the differences between these two systems and their potential benefits and drawbacks will help you choose the right system for your business.
What is an Unmonitored Video Security System?
An unmonitored security system is not watched over by a team at a monitoring station. This can include several types of systems, from completely unmonitored alarm systems to self-monitored systems. What they have in common is that they are not connected to an ever-present third party. If an alarm sounds, trained security staff are not immediately notified.
However, that doesn’t mean that someone isn’t notified. While some alarms only sound at the property itself, with some unmonitored systems, the operator of the system may be notified.
For example, with some alarms, the system makes an audible sound and that’s it. However, with other alarms, you may receive a notification on your phone or computer that the alarm has been triggered. Both situations are considered unmonitored, however, since they aren’t directly watched by a security provider. If you get a notification that your alarm system has been triggered, you will still need to investigate or contact the police or security yourself.
Some unmonitored security systems allow you to watch your cameras and other security tools live on your computer, tablet, or phone. If you are alerted to a trouble situation or if you see something suspicious or criminal taking place, you can decide to take action or call the authorities.
Potential Positives of an Unmonitored Security System (Pros)
One primary advantage to an unmonitored security system is that these tools are typically less expensive than monitored systems. This is usually because you will need to pay to have the system installed initially, but you won’t be responsible for making monthly or annual payments to cover the costs of monitoring.
However, some unmonitored systems will still involve regular charges. For instance, some security tools that allow you to record video footage from security cameras will charge a monthly or annual fee to store the footage.
Also, some businesses like the idea of monitoring their system themselves. There is a “do-it-yourself” spirit that typically enjoys setting up and monitoring a system. In addition, you may have privacy concerns relating to a third party viewing your property. However, it’s important to note that there could also be privacy issues if you are self-monitoring your cameras remotely.
Potential Downsides to an Unmonitored Security System (Cons)
One of the main downsides to an unmonitored security system is that the system will not automatically contact the authorities and that no third party will be involved in the monitoring process. Even if you have your system set up to notify you if there is an incident, you will still need to be present and able to react.
If something happens while you are sleeping, away from your phone, or in an area with a weak or nonexistent phone or internet connection, there’s a good chance that you will miss this notification.
If you plan on monitoring your own security cameras, it simply isn’t possible for you to do so 24/7. This means you will need to rely on alerts to handle crimes. Not only could you miss an alert or be unable to respond, but you will also be putting yourself in a reactionary position.
Alerts only occur after a crime is already in progress. For instance, an unmonitored security system may send you a notification when an alarm sounds, when motion is detected, or when another sensor is triggered. In these instances, a crime is already underway. There are several potential issues with this. The first is that criminals act fast. Once they gain access to a property, they are usually in and out quite quickly.
If there is a delay between when you notice the notification and when you contact the authorities, this delay could give criminals a chance to escape.
There is also the issue that criminals typically cause damage when they commit a crime. If your system only alerts you when a window is broken, for example, the window will still need to be prepared even if the criminal is unsuccessful at stealing anything from your property. The fact that unmonitored security systems do not allow you to be proactive and stop a crime before it happens is a significant potential downside.
There is also a potential data security risk if you are viewing your cameras remotely via a phone or tablet. If your internet connection is not secure, it is potentially possible that this feed could be hacked or interrupted.
What is a Monitored Video Security System?
A monitored security system is watched by an ever-present third party. In most cases, this is the security staff at a live monitoring station. If there is an issue, this team can respond to it right away. For instance, if an alarm sounds, they can contact the police directly. The property owner does not need to respond to any notifications or be watching their system for action to be taken.
Much like with unmonitored systems, there are different types of monitored security. For instance, an alarm system can be monitored by staff at a central station. If the alarm sounds, this team can contact security or police and alert them of a crime. However, with a monitored alarm system, there is no way for staff to verify what is actually happening. If only an alarm is in place, staff won’t know if the alarm was triggered by a criminal attempting a break-in, a staff member who forgot their code, or a cat knocking over a plant.
This situation can be resolved by using live monitored security cameras. Live monitored cameras have a trained security team watching over them at all times. This is a big step up in business security. For instance, compare this type of system to one that isn’t monitored live. Even if you have cameras that can be watched by central staff when an alarm sounds, that isn’t the same as live monitoring.
With live remote monitoring, trained security professionals are watching over your property at all times. This not only allows them to respond to alarms and other incidents but also lets them react to situations before they become crimes.
For instance, most live remote monitoring systems include other security tools such as two-way speakers in addition to cameras, motion sensors, and other security tools. If the security staff notice that there is something suspicious happening at your property (such as a person walking around the property looking for an entry point or an individual attempting to climb over your fence), they can use the two-way speaker system to inform the person that they are being watched and that police will be called if they do not leave the scene.
Potential Positives of a Monitored Security System (Pros)
When looking at the potential positives of monitored security systems, it’s a good idea to separate these systems into those that are passively monitored and those that are monitored live.
A passively monitored tool is connected to an ever-present third party, but one that does not have someone constantly watching it. An example would be an alarm system that is connected to a central station.
An actively monitored security system is watched over by live agents at all times. This would be a tool such as a live remote monitoring system. With a live remote monitoring system, security agents are monitoring cameras and other security tools (motion sensors, temperature detectors, etc.) at all hours of the day. There are certain benefits that only pertain to these types of systems.
In general, however, most monitored security systems will provide stronger and more timely security than an unmonitored system.
Since a third party is connected to the system at all times, they will be notified immediately if there is an issue, and they can take steps to react and resolve the situation. For instance, if there is a break-in, the authorities can be contacted right away by the dedicated monitoring team.
Another benefit is that monitored security systems are installed by professionals. While unmonitored systems can also be installed by a professional company, many people install them on their own. While there is usually an increased cost associated with professional installation, there is also the added comfort in knowing that the system has been installed correctly.
In addition, some insurance companies may be willing to offer a discount on property insurance if you have a monitored security system in place.
Potential Downsides to a Monitored Security System (Cons)
Much like when it comes to determining the benefits, it’s also important to differentiate between passive monitoring and live monitoring when listing the potential downsides of monitored security systems. For instance, with a system that is passively monitored, the potential for false alarms exists.
If your alarm system is designed so that a central station is contacted when the alarm sounds, the central station will contact the police when there is an alarm. However, if you do not have monitored security cameras in place as well, there’s no way for anyone to verify if there is a real crime in progress or if it is a false alarm.
Live monitoring systems do not have this same issue.
With a live monitoring system, the staff at the central station are watching your security cameras 24/7. This means they will easily be able to differentiate between a real crime and a false alarm. Police may even place a higher priority on verified crimes that are supported by staff at a live monitoring station.
Live remote video monitoring is a powerful and cost-effective alternative to security guards.
Another potential downside with monitored security systems is their cost. There is typically a monthly or annual cost associated with these systems. However, with several companies, the system installation costs are reduced or even waived if you agree to regular monitoring. This means that you may not end up spending more for the system in total. Of course, there’s also the fact that such systems are more likely to prevent crime and costly damage, so the additional cost could be worth it for your business.
Choosing Between Monitored and Unmonitored Security Systems
When it comes to choosing between monitored and unmonitored security systems, there are several factors to consider. The first is the cost. There are many different types of security and they all come at very different costs.
You should take into account not just the upfront cost, but also if there are any annual or monthly costs. However, this isn’t the only way that cost factors into the equation.
A business security system that may cost more, but that is also more effective, could end up saving your company money over time.
By reducing crime, you not only prevent the loss, but you also prevent disruptions.
Having effective security could help your business operate more smoothly and therefore be more profitable, and this could be worth the costs associated with the security system.
If you determine that a commercial monitored security system makes more sense for your company, you will then need to choose between passive and active monitoring. As mentioned, there are many benefits to live or active monitoring.
Not only do these systems ensure that staff is only responding to actual trouble conditions (which cuts down on false alarms), but security staff can also intervene to prevent crimes from happening. This type of protection could be worth it for your business.
There is additional safety, security, and peace of mind that comes with a live monitored security system. This means that such systems are often worth it to the companies that install them. Before deciding that they are not in your price range, it could make sense to investigate them and find out more.
With years of experience in live remote monitoring and facility management, we understand what it takes to keep properties and companies safe. If you’re wondering what sort of security system could make sense for your business, please contact us. We can help you understand the options available, the potential costs associated with those options, and the benefits of each type of security.
Talk with our team and find out what sort of security could work for you.