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How to Shop for a Smart Security System

Author: Gary Kallman
December, 2017 Issue

Steve Jobs predicted it more than 30 years ago, and he nailed it. Indeed, computers are our primary mode of communication; wireless mobile computing is commonplace; and technology is continuously faster, cheaper, better – and more useful. By the end of this decade, it’s expected that as many as 50 billion devices will be online. What’s more, smart computing has made its way into our hands, enabling you – from just about anywhere in the world – to control, automate, and monitor activities in your home and business via the ubiquitous Internet of Things (IoT). That’s great news for you – and your business – because it means, at your fingertips, you can have greater control and flexibility over your home and business environments. This gives you greater efficiency/lower expenses, better safety, tighter security, and communication by voice and/or video when you need it.


Today, 77 percent of all American households own a smart phone and nearly 90 percent are online, according a Pew Research Center survey conducted in November 2016. It’s highly probable that these devices you already have also can serve as the interface to your home and business security system. When married to the IoT, a smart security system can help you: 

•    Detect when trespassers are on your property
•    Know when your kids arrive home, and interact with them by voice and video
•    Grant access to employees, your house cleaner, lawn service, handyman, and
animal caregiver
•    Escort employees to their vehicles safely
•    Assure secure, unattended deliveries to your home or business
•    Remotely lock/unlock doors, turn lights on/off, set thermostats up/down
You can easily achieve all of this through an intuitive phone and tablet app that facilitates the seamless use of a well-designed smart security system that keeps people, places, and assets safe.
The safety and security of your loved ones, employees, and assets is serious business. So before selecting a smart security provider, review the list below, check references and online reviews, and read tips from independent resources such as your local police and fire departments. (You’ll be glad you did.)
When researching viable electronic security providers, be sure to note the following: Is the company licensed as a California Alarm Company Operator, and insured? Are employees licensed by the State Bureau of Security & Investigative Services? Have they passed criminal background checks and drug testing? Do they present a company photo I.D.? Is the company committed to the highest professional and ethical standards through association memberships, auditing by independent insurance underwriters or U.S. government agencies, and continuing education from industry associations such as the California Alarm Association, the Electronic Security Association, and The Monitoring Association?
Does the company invest in the community by volunteering time and/or making donations to support it? Do employees live in or near your community?
Will the company work with you consultatively to insure that you get the best design that is seamless to your lifestyle and business workflows with multiple layers of protection for your specific needs at the best value?
Will a company representative help facilitate available insurance discounts and false alarm prevention measures to save you money on premiums and spare you extra expenses? Does the company operate its own monitoring center that is FM-approved and UL-certified for best standards of practice? Is it local to the area and staffed 24/7 daily by trained and qualified professionals so you reach a person – and not a phone tree – no matter what time of day or night you call?
Does the company offer enhanced warranty and service plans beyond a traditional warranty?
Does the company comply with the requirements of local authorities and assist with any necessary permits?  
How many years has the company been in business as an electronic security provider? Make sure it’s been long enough to have earned a strong reputation and the privilege of becoming your partner in designing, deploying, and monitoring security systems that will help keep you, your family and employees, and assets safe and secure.
Last, avoid frequently advertised “deals” that sound too good to be true because they likely are, and be certain that the company you choose is focused on the right thing – providing you with the best security system. 

Gary Kallman is president at First Alarm, which has been serving California's Central Coast and San Francsico Bay areas since 1966. He is an electronic security veteran with 40 years of experience in the industry. His previous experience includes workingfor manufacturing and software development companies within the security industry as a senior sales and marketing executive.



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