Honeywell compares past stigmas to present realities of enhanced intrusion alarm systems.
The days of unreliable burglar alarms are long gone. Barely 10 years ago, burglar alarms were deemed to be overly complicated to use and interpret. Today, there are a number of key elements of current intrusion alarm systems that quell many of the common myths set by their predecessors.
Myths versus Realities
Frequent False Alarms
Intrusion alarms were more renowned for false alarms than for catching intruders 30 years ago. However, modern technologies such as K-band microwave, dual microwave and PIR detection have largely eradicated occurrences of false alarms. Rather than simply detecting one element — be it heat or movement — today's sensors utilize a combination of both heat and movement to verify a genuine
alarm threat before triggering a signal to the alarm panel. Whereas previously sunlight and headlights might have easily triggered an alarm, modern detectors use advanced software algorithms to filter out such factors before the alarm is raised. K-band technology operates on a higher frequency resulting in less penetration of walls and windows, and a reduction in alarms being triggered by external influences.
Other technologies such as glass break, magnetic contacts and shock sensors have also been upgraded and now use vibration, microphones and transceivers to detect changes in external and perimeter environments.
Continual sounding and Unreliability of Alarms
Alarms have been known to go off all day long and become nuisances to users. Today, however, by law in many countries, intrusion alarms must employ cut-off timers which limit the duration of alarm sirens or bell sounds. Most time out after a maximum of 20 minutes, effectively resolving this long-held issue.
Unreliable alarms also arouse doubt, and people have resorted to ignoring triggered alarms for years. More and more intrusion alarms are now being linked to an alarm-receiving center (ARC) or monitoring station which manages alerts from alarm systems. Furthermore, commercial environments today demand an insurance requirement for businesses to link their intrusion alarm systems to an ARC.
Inconvenient Alarm Codes
Alarms of the past required users to key in long numerical sequences to arm and disarm. Today, most PIN-operated systems require only a four-digit number to be entered into the keypad. This can be a memorable PIN such as one used for bank cards or cellular phones. For people who simply do not prefer PINs, there are
also intrusion alarm systems that operate using key fobs or tags that can be conveniently kept on a key ring with house or car keys.
Hasty Disarming of Alarms
Previously, alarms had to be disarmed in a few seconds before they went off, forcing users to rush haphazardly to the alarm when entering their home. Today, the length of time users have to enter a property and disarm the intruder alarm can be preprogrammed to give them the desired time to disarm the system, if the keypad or control panel is not located close to the entrance of the building. The best practice is to position the keypad or card reader close to the entry point of any building to reduce the possibility of unwanted false alarms. With intelligent radio systems, it is possible to arm and disarm the intruder alarm system from outside the building using a radio keypad.
Domestic Animals Triggering Alarms
In the past, users had to limit their pets' freedom as they often set off false alarms. According to Pet Food Manufacturers Association, more than 55 million households in Europe own a pet, and alarm manufacturers have developed a solution to resolve this issue.
Some manufacturers have developed pet-tolerant sensors which allow animals to move freely around the house without triggering an alarm. Typically, sensors with animal immunity use advanced software or a special lens and, depending on the pet's size and weight, the sensor is set accordingly so that the pet can roam around the house without triggering an alarm.
Alarms Triggered on Empty Premises
Traditionally, alarms would trigger when homes or properties were empty, which baffled and frustrated end users. Most modern intrusion alarms are programmed with event memories which can inform users of the date and time that the event or alarm took place, cause of the alarm (such as a fault or technical problem), as well as provide information on who set the alarm and what time alarm users/operators entered and exited the building, depending on the alarm manufacturer. This means that alarms can be easily investigated, the cause identified and the problem fixed. Modern alarm systems can also relay this information remotely and directly to the installer so that appropriate actions can be taken. Errors can be corrected if they concern false alarms, and appropriate retraining actions initiated should the fault stem from user error.
Fear of Radioactive Rays
With cellular phones and microwaves emitting harmful radioactive energy, users have come to believe the same of motion detectors. On the contrary, normal PIR detectors receive heat energy only and do not transmit any rays. These are used purely to detect body heat in the surroundings.
In microwave detectors, the amount of microwave energy used is so small that it does not cause problems to humans or animals even after prolonged exposure. Modern K-band detectors use a higher frequency which has even less effect as it does not penetrate through windows and walls. These detectors can be switched off if required when the building is occupied.
Today's Intrusion Alarms
In reality, most of the myths perceived by people — be it security managers, business owners or homeowners —have been easily dispelled. If a correct intrusion alarm system is specified for the owner/property at the onset and is installed and maintained by a professional who provides the user with the appropriate guidelines and training, then the issues mentioned in this article will soon be rendered obsolete.