Can I use my cellphone, instead of a prox card for FOB, for access control to my office and building doors?

Yes. Mobile phones as an access control credential has come a long way. You now have a few options depending on the system. Options are available to use the HIB Bluetooth application with a bluetooth reader at the door, to simply using an iOS and Android App with Brivo Systems or DMP.

Where is remote video patrol most effective?

The critical factor in effective use of the remote video guard patrol is clear criteria in what actions to take in various conditions. Instructions to "report anything suspicious" is not going to be effective since people's ideas of what is suspicious are not the same and it may be very specific to a situation and location. 

Examples of effective specific action may include:

  1. Report to call list any persons on site between the hours of 10PM and 6AM
  2. Instruct anyone loitering to move on and, if they fail to do so in 90 seconds, dispatch the police
  3. Send email to contact list if a package is deposited to front porch or removed by someone not entering the home

Urban Alarm will work with you to determine if this method of security will be effective in addressing your needs and to define effective processes and procedures. 

Why is using a licensed company important to me?

Every State and County has its own set of requirements around the licensing of companies. These requirements set a bar for the level of professionalism and compliance for companies. They include requirements such as background checks for employees and owners, to training, to insurance and bonding requirements.

Security and fire alarm systems are unique in that if something is not done correctly you may not know years down the road when something does not work when you need it. If you every have an insurance claim or other issue related to the work of your vendor, and they are not licensed, insurance may not cover the losses.

Unlicensed companies often cut other corners such as taxes, workers comp insurance, or liability insurance all of which can come back to you if something goes wrong.

Review the requirements in your location. For more information on security alarm business licensing requirements in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia visit Urban Alarms Local Alarm Program Page.


Is my older Commercial Fire Alarm System "grandfathered" in or do I need to upgrade it?

There are many circumstances which can trigger a required upgrade to a Commercial Fire Alarm Systems. They are completely at the discretion of the local Fire Marshal and/or Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).

Some typical events that may request in a required Commercial Fire Alarm upgrade include:

  • Change of use of the property (e.g., from a Church to a School)
  • General inspection or visit by the Fire Marshal or AHJ; the local authority or the fire marshal may inspect the property for any (or no) reason. At their discretion they may feel it necessary for you to upgrade the system. Common reasons to upgrade include horns or bells that are not audible at in sleeping areas, inadequate smoke detection, etc)
  • Renovation of a property that would impact the areas of the property where current code requires commercial fire alarm system upgrades (e.g., renovation of an elevator, modification of egress flow)

Key to consider is that no property is legally "entitled" to no meeting current code and it is the discretion of the local authority as it if and when you m just comply with current codes. It can be more cost effective to upgrade the system on your timeline rather then when you are being compelled to do so potentially under a tight (and expensive) timeline.

Can access control FOB's be used for multiple locations?

Access control card or key "FOBs" the use the same technology can be used in multiple sites or systems. This would allow an employee of a commercial property to have their key card added to the access control system in their apartment building.

This requires that the systems use the same fundamental technology. Some common examples of access control card technology include:

  • HID Prox
  • MiFARE
  • iClass

What is the difference between Analog and IP Security Video

Network based video surveillance ( or IP Video ) has become increasingly common over the past 15 years to the point where it is common place and comparably priced to traditional analog video.

The difference is similar to the difference between older analog television and modern digital HD video. IP video allows for much higher resolution pictures and more flexible functionality. 

What do the Patrol Officers do When Confronted With a Crime in Progress?

It is the responsibility of Patrol Officers to observe and report. If they witness suspicious activity they will report it to police dispatch, monitor the situation, and, if possible, document the activity for forensics and/or prosecution.  Our Patrol Officers work closely with the DC Police Department and regularly provide them with relevant information.

What are the concierge services?

Urban Alarm views certain types of “concierge” services as complementary to community security. While we perform a range of personalized services, some of the most basic activities include: picking up packages that have been left outside and redelivering them in the evening or at the homeowner's convenience, returning garbage bins from the road after garbage pickup, checking for flyers or other items delivered to the home when homeowners are away, and walking the family dog.

Who will be patrolling the neighborhood?

Patrol Officers are Urban Alarm employees that have been fingerprinted by the DC Department of Police and licensed as “Security Officers.” While on patrol, they are in regular contact with DC Police, reporting and documenting suspicious activity. They are given a cell phone / camera to document and email incident reports for properties on their patrol. They are not armed and are not permitted to attempt to intervene in a crime. It is their role is to observe and report. The patrol vehicle is tracked by GPS and the reports are reviewed regularly per Patrol Officer performance.

How do alarm system glass break detectors work?

Glass break detectors look for the sound of glass breaking. They are most effective in areas where larger panes of glass can easily be broken to gain entry to a home. They are effective on glass that is at least one square foot in size and no more than one-quarter of an inch thick. Most are rated to work on glass about 15’ to 20’ from the sensor, so a single sensor can potentially cover an entire room. However, glass break detectors can be susceptible to false alarms. We often see mail slots causing false alarms on glass break detectors as the thud (of mail hitting the floor) with the clank (of the mail slot closing) resembles the acoustic pattern the glass break detector is looking for.

All equipment and monitoring are Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Listed, meaning that they have passed a rigorous audit by an independent third-party.

Why is using a licensed security alarm company important?

There are many alarm companies doing business in and around the Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia area that are not licensed. This may reflect on the quality of the company. Do you want to work with a company that blatantly cuts these corners? But more significantly, if there is an issue and you try to make a claim against the company, their insurance company may not cover the company if they are operating outside of their licensed business area.

What is the benefit of equipment manufactured in the United States?

Urban Alarm is an authorized dealer of Digital Monitoring Products (DMP). DMP is a manufacturer of security alarm systems and devices and is unique in their US manufacturing of these devices.

Using equipment manufactured in the USA is beneficial for a number of reasons. In addition to the highest quality we would expect from a US manufacturer, the turn-around time on new versions of technology and direct access to the engineers designing the systems is extremely valuable. We have seen a few instances where the US supply change allows the manufacturer to respond much more quickly to the market.