Security and Fire Alarm Automatic Communication Testing

If your car or cell phone is not working, you will know it the moment you try to use it. If an alarm system is not working, you may not know for weeks or months or until the next time you NEED it. Alarm systems must communicate with the central monitoring station in order to be effective. And in many cases, they only communicate with the central monitoring station when there is an alarm. 

For alarm systems installed and monitored by Urban Alarm, we automatically test the alarm monitoring on a daily or weekly basis. Alarm systems are programmed to check in with us daily (for internet monitoring or cellular monitoring) or weekly (for phone based monitoring). If the system fails to check in with us, we take action.

This feature is called an automatic communication test. But not all automatic communication tests are equal. Many systems which claim to have these auto tests are not actually testing communications from the alarm system to the central monitoring center. Many alarm panels from major manufacturers use external modules for Internet and/or cellular monitoring. In many cases, their automatic communication tests only detect failures between the external module to the central monitoring center. But they do not detect failures between the alarm control panel and the central monitoring center.

Urban Alarm installs systems that have cellular and internet communication on the alarm control board, not in an external module. When our system tests communication, it is tested from the alarm control panel to the central monitoring station. This method of testing is more reliable and more effective.

Many alarm monitoring companies do not enable automatic communication testing, so make sure you check with your alarm monitoring company. Ideally, your system will perform an automatic test daily, but minimally it should check test for communication weekly.

So remember:

  • Your alarm system should perform an automatic communications test at least weekly and ideally, daily.
  • Alarm system communications tests should test the full communications path -- from panel to central station automation systems.