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Choosing a Security System

Choosing a security system

Many businesses use a combination of security measures to create the most appropriate blend of protection for their needs. The choice very much depends upon the nature of the business or the nature of the assets to be protected. They may include the following:

Intruder alarms

There is wide range of choice available, from “bells only” systems to the more sophisticated range of monitored systems. Below is a brief review of some of the options which may help the maze of terminology that you will encounter when reviewing the systems options.

Bells (Audible) only alarms

This is generally the most basic option and unlikely to be acceptable to an insurer if you are protecting commercial premises. In simple terms, if the alarm is triggered, an audible alarm sounds to alert you (or a neighbour) that an intruder has entered (or is trying to enter) the premises.

Speechdialler or Auto (GSM) dialler system

These will be a cheaper option than having a fully monitored system. With a Speechdialler, when the alarm is activated, pre-programmed numbers of your choice will be dialled and a pre-recorded message alerts the keyholder or the person in the business responsible for responding to the alarm. If the phone line is cut or disabled no signal can be sent.

Under no circumstances should the Gardai telephone number be programmed into the auto dialler.

A GSM alarm unit sends you and/or other contacts a text message. It is not dependent on the phone line.  This can be a cost effective option as an alternative to a monitoring contract.

Monitored systems

The system installed may be the same of similar to a bells only system, except that when the alarm is activated, a signal informs a Alarm Monitoring Centre. They may confirm that the alarm is not false and if necessary they inform the Gardai, private security service provider and/or keyholder.  It is important that the Alarm Monitoring Centre is recognised by the Gardai.  A unique reference number (URN), which identified the premises must be obtained by the installer from the Gardai when the system is installed.

Digital Communications 

With this system, alarm signals from the system are monitored by an Alarm Receving Centre (ARC), but a failure of the line such as the line being cut will prevent an alarm signal being received at the ARC.  Typically with this system the line is checked once/day (grade dependent) by a ‘test signal’ being sent to the ARC where, if not received, a user is notified.

Monitored signalling system

These are systems that monitor the “signal path” between the protected premises and the Alarm Receiving Centre that monitors the alarm system. In the event of the signalling path, usually a telephone line, being interrupted (in the case of a burglary usually at or near the protected premises by cutting the telephone cable) an alarm is activated at the Alarm Receiving Centre and either the Gardai or the key holder of the premises is informed (the Gardai can only be informed if the alarm can be “confirmed”)

Dual path signalling systems

There are several types of dual path systems; some include a digital communicator combined with a GSM system (using mobile phone technology). Under normal circumstances alarm signals are sent to the Alarm Receiving Centre by the digital communicator but if this is not possible due, e.g. to the cable having been cut, the signals are sent by the GSM system. Other systems use a monitored signalling system also combined with a GSM system. In the event of the monitored signalling system being unable to send an alarm signal to its monitoring centre the signal is sent by the GSM system.

Dual path signalling systems have a great benefit in that they allow an alarm condition followed by a signalling path fault (or vice-a-versa) to be treated as a “confirmed alarm” and therefore obtain a Garda response. Similarly faults in both signalling paths can be treated as “confirmed alarms” and obtain a Garda response.

IP (Internet Protocol) Signalling

Whilst this option has been available for some time it is still the ‘new kid on the block’ as far as tried and trusted solutions go. Systems using IP signalling connect to Alarm Receiving Centre via the public internet using the ISP of your choice. The system is dependent upon in-house network setup, but may provide alternative signal pathways to ‘ensure’ signal continuity. However, to some the technology has yet to be fully established and you would need to check with your insurer that they are satisfied with security and fire alarms being routed in this way.

Access Control

Controlling access to your site, building, or parts of it, is an effective way of ensuring the security of the premises and staff. There are potential access solutions from gates and turnstiles to biometric options. Access control systems can also be linked to a range of human resource management systems and asset tracking.


A range of CCTV options are available to provide surveillance of the perimeter or vulnerable areas of a site. Advances in technology have enabled a wider range of CCTV options and data capture that can be used to provide evidence of criminal activity.

The installation and setting up of CCTV cameras requires knowledge of the Human Rights Legislation, particularly if cameras impact upon public space. It is also important to ensure that CCTV is reasonable and proportionate to the risk and that the data captured is processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

Remotely Video Response Centres (RVRC) CCTV systems draw upon a wide range of standards and require a high degree of cooperation between system installers, monitoring centres and the premises occupiers and managers. Monitoring personnel will confirm that an activation is genuine before alerting the Gardai.

Remotely monitored CCTV systems can provide an economic solution where property protection is required 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Monitoring Centres

Monitoring centres perform a central and critical role in both the fire and intruder alarm sectors. Activations from monitored intruder alarm systems and fire alarm systems must be routed through an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) for verification prior to being passed to the relevant authorities.

Remote Video Response Centres (RVRC) have a critical role in monitoring images from detector operated CCTV systems. RVRC operators verify images received and if appropriate incidents may be notified to the Gardai.

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