The Ultimate Guide To Intruder Alarms: Everything You Need To Know About Intruder Alarms As A Business
Discover the ultimate guide to intruder alarms for businesses. Understand everything you need to know to choose, install and maintain your intruder alarm system and keep your premises secure.
- Understanding Intruder Alarms
- Intrusion Detection Technologies
- Additional Security Features
- Compliance and Standards
- Selecting the Right Intruder Alarm
- Installation and Maintenance
- Employee Training & Response Protocols
- Best Practices for Business Security
Purpose of the Guide
This guide aims to provide a comprehensive resource for business owners and managers to understand, select, and implement effective intruder alarm systems.
By covering various aspects of intruder alarms, including the technology, installation, maintenance, and best practices for electronic security management, the guide will enable readers to make informed decisions regarding their security needs.
Importance of Intruder Alarms for Businesses
Intruder alarms play a crucial role in protecting property, assets, and employees.
They act as a deterrent for potential intruders, provide early detection of unauthorised entry, and facilitate a timely response by the Police or Security personnel.
In addition to improving overall electronic security, a well-implemented alarm system can potentially reduce insurance costs, minimise downtime resulting from theft or vandalism, and help businesses comply with industry regulations.
Understanding Intruder Alarms
Basic Components of Intruder Alarm Systems
An intruder alarm system typically consists of a control panel, sensors, detectors, sounders, keypads and key fobs.
These components work together to detect and respond to unauthorised entry. The control panel serves as the central processing unit, coordinating communication between various devices and relaying alarm signals to the monitoring centre or designated personnel.
Sensors and detectors are responsible for monitoring specific entry points or areas within the premises and include door and window contacts, motion detectors, glass break detectors and vibration sensors.
Sounders, such as sirens and strobe lights, alert occupants of a potential intrusion and can deter intruders by drawing attention to the premises.
Keypads and key fobs enable users to control the system, arming and disarming it as needed, and provide a means of identifying authorised users.
Types of Intruder Alarm Systems
Intruder alarm systems can be classified into wired, wireless, and hybrid systems.
Wired systems use physical cables to connect sensors and devices to the control panel. They are generally considered more reliable and secure, as they are less susceptible to interference and tampering, but may require a more complex installation process and be less adaptable to changes in the premises layout.
Wireless systems use radio frequency signals to connect devices, offering greater flexibility in installation and the ability to expand the system easily. However, they can be more vulnerable to interference and will require frequent battery replacements.
Hybrid systems combine elements of both wired and wireless systems, allowing for a customised solution based on the specific needs of the business and the existing infrastructure.
Monitoring Intruder Alarms
Alarm monitoring options include self-monitoring and professional monitoring services.
Self-monitoring involves the business owner or designated personnel receiving notifications directly from the alarm system, requiring them to take appropriate action in case of an alarm event. This option can be more cost-effective, but it places the responsibility of response and decision-making on the business owner or their staff.
Professional monitoring services employ a team of trained operators who monitor the system 24/7 and contact emergency responders if necessary. While professional monitoring can provide peace of mind and quicker response times, it typically incurs an annual fee.
Intruder alarm systems use various communication methods to relay alarm signals, including landline, Mobile Network, and internet-based connections.
Landline connections are often the most affordable option but may be susceptible to disruptions or tampering, such as cut phone lines.
Mobile Network connections provide greater reliability and are less vulnerable to tampering, but they may incur additional costs and depend on the availability of Mobile Network coverage.
Internet-based connections offer increased versatility and can integrate with other electronic security systems and smart devices but depend on a stable internet connection and may be vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Intrusion Detection Technologies
Door and Window Contacts
Door and window contacts use magnetic sensors to detect unauthorised entry through doors and windows.
When the magnet separates from the sensor due to an opening door or window, the alarm system is triggered.
These simple yet effective devices are essential components of most intruder alarm systems and can be installed on various types of doors and windows, including sliding, hinged, and casement styles.
Recessed and surface-mounted options are available to suit different aesthetic and installation requirements.
Motion detectors utilise various technologies, such as Passive Infrared (PIR), microwave, and dual technology, to detect movement within a designated area.
PIR detectors identify changes in infrared radiation emitted by moving objects, such as humans or animals, while microwave detectors emit signals and measure reflections to detect motion.
Dual technology detectors combine both methods to reduce false alarms and improve detection accuracy.
Motion detectors are typically installed in high-traffic areas or choke points within the premises and can be adjusted for sensitivity and range to minimise false alarms.
Glass Break Detectors
Glass break detectors are designed to detect the sound or vibration of breaking glass, providing additional protection against forced entry.
These devices use either acoustic or shock sensors to identify the specific frequencies or vibrations associated with breaking glass. Acoustic sensors listen for the sound of breaking glass, while shock sensors detect vibrations transmitted through the glass or window frame.
Glass break detectors can be particularly useful for protecting large windows, glass doors, or skylights, where traditional door and window contacts may not provide adequate coverage.
Vibration sensors detect vibrations caused by drilling, cutting, or other forcible entry attempts.
These sensors can be installed on walls, doors, windows, or safes to provide an additional layer of protection against intrusion attempts that bypass traditional door and window contacts.
Vibration sensors typically use piezoelectric or accelerometer-based technology to convert vibrations into electrical signals, which are then analysed by the control panel to determine whether an alarm should be triggered.
These sensors can be adjusted for sensitivity to minimise false alarms and ensure accurate detection of genuine threats.
Advanced Verification Methods
Advanced verification methods, such as audio, video, and sequential verification, help reduce false alarms and improve response times. The Police can be called by the Monitoring Station for a verified event (audio, visual or sequentially verified) providing a Police response URN application has been made and URN granted.
Audio verification involves the monitoring station dialling in after an alarm activation to listen for any sounds associated with a break-in, such as glass breaking or forced entry, and using this information to confirm the validity of an alarm event.
Video verification captures visual evidence after an activation, either through live video feeds or recorded footage, allowing the monitoring station operators to verify the alarm and provide more detailed information to the Police or Security personnel..
Sequential verification requires multiple sensors to be triggered before an alarm to the Police is raised, reducing the likelihood of false alarms due to environmental factors or equipment malfunctions.
Additional Security Features of Intruder Alarms
Integration with Other Security Systems
Integrating intruder alarms with access control, video surveillance, and building management systems can enhance overall security by providing a more comprehensive view of the premises and enabling coordinated responses to security events.
Integration can enable features such as activating a smoke cloak system to fill a room with smoke to prevent theft of high value items, automatically locking doors when an alarm is triggered, activating video surveillance cameras when a sensor is tripped, or turning on lights during an alarm event to deter intruders and aid in the identification of suspects.
Integration can also streamline security management by consolidating control and monitoring functions into a single interface.
Area control allows for grouping sensors within the protected premises into different areas, enabling users to arm or disarm individual areas as needed, for example area 1 for the Offices and area 2 for the Warehouse.
This feature provides flexibility in managing access to specific areas and can help reduce false alarms by allowing users to disarm areas where maintenance or cleaning activities are taking place, while keeping other areas armed and protected.
Areas can be customised based on the needs of the business, such as separating public and private areas or creating areas for different departments or floors within a building.
Area control can also be useful for businesses with multiple locations, enabling centralised management of security across all sites.
User management features allow for multiple user accounts with customisable permissions and access levels.
This ensures that employees only have access to the necessary electronic security functions and can help track individual activity within the system.
User accounts can be assigned to specific areas, granting access only to the areas relevant to each employee’s role.
Additionally, user management can include features such as temporary access codes for visitors or contractors, time-based access restrictions, and activity logs that provide a record of system interactions.
Smartphone Apps and Remote Access
Smartphone apps and remote access features enable users to monitor, control, and receive notifications from the alarm system remotely.
This allows business owners and managers to stay informed about the security status of their premises even when they are off-site.
Users can arm and disarm the system, view live video feeds, receive alerts for alarm events or system status changes, and manage user accounts from their smartphones or other internet-connected devices.
Remote access can also enable features such as geofencing, which can automatically arm or disarm the system based on the user’s location, providing added convenience and ensuring that the system is always armed when the premises are unoccupied.
Reporting and Analytics
Advanced intruder alarm systems can generate various reports and analytics, such as event logs, sensor activity, and user access history.
These insights can help identify vulnerabilities, monitor employee activity, and inform decisions about security measures.
Reports can be customised based on specific needs and requirements, such as tracking access to sensitive areas or identifying patterns of activity that may indicate potential threats.
Analytics can also provide information on system performance, such as battery life, signal strength, and communication failures, helping to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the intruder alarm system.
Compliance and Standards for Intruder Alarms
Overview of Relevant Standards and Regulations for Intruder Alarms
The main standard governing intruder alarms in the UK is the European Standard EN 50131.
This standard was adopted in October 2005, replacing old British standards.
These guidelines ensure the quality, reliability, and effectiveness of intruder alarm systems.
They cover aspects such as system design, installation, maintenance, and testing, as well as requirements for specific components and technologies, such as wireless communication, encryption, and backup power supplies.
Ensuring Compliance with Local and Industry-Specific Requirements
It is essential to work with a reputable security provider who can help navigate and adhere to these standards and regulations.
Compliance not only guarantees the proper functioning of the system but also ensures the business meets industry and local requirements.
This can be particularly important for businesses in regulated industries, such as finance, healthcare, or government, where non-compliance can result in fines, penalties, or loss of contracts.
A knowledgeable security provider can help ensure that the intruder alarm system meets all applicable standards and regulations, as well as provide guidance on any additional requirements specific to the industry or jurisdiction.
Selecting the Right Intruder Alarm
Assessing the Security Needs of Your Business
Conduct a risk assessment to evaluate the premises’ size and layout and identify specific security concerns.
There are four intruder alarm grades, which include:
- Grade 1 – Intruders are unlikely to target the premises.
- Grade 2 – There’s a higher risk of theft due to valuable property being kept on site.
- Grade 3 – There is a substantial threat from experienced intruders due to high-value contents.
- Grade 4 – The property has a very high risk of being targeted by organised criminals.
Consider factors such as the type of business, location, and potential threats when determining the appropriate intruder alarm system.
A thorough risk assessment can help identify areas with higher vulnerability, such as ground floor windows or exterior doors, and inform decisions about the placement of sensors and other security measures.
It can also help determine the level of system complexity and integration required to address the identified risks effectively.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Intruder Alarm System
When choosing an alarm system, consider factors such as the type of system (wired, wireless, or hybrid), monitoring options (self-monitoring or professional monitoring), communication methods (landline, cellular, or internet-based), and additional security features (integration with other security systems, zone control, user management, remote access, and reporting and analytics).
Other considerations include the ease of installation, ongoing maintenance requirements, system expandability, and overall cost, including equipment, installation, and monitoring fees.
Working with a Reputable Security Provider
Select a reputable electronic security provider with a proven track record and experience in designing, installing, and maintaining intruder alarm systems for businesses.
They should be inspected to British Standard compliance and familiar with relevant standards and regulations and provide ongoing support and maintenance services. You can search for companies that are inspected by the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board here.
A reputable provider can offer valuable guidance and recommendations for selecting the most suitable intruder alarm system, ensuring that it meets your specific needs and complies with relevant regulations.
Installation and Maintenance of Intruder Alarms
Installation Considerations for Intruder Alarms
The installation process for wired and wireless systems can vary significantly.
Wired systems typically require more complex installations, including running cables and drilling holes, while wireless systems offer more flexibility and faster installation times.
Consider the optimal placement of sensors and devices for maximum coverage and effectiveness.
Be aware of environmental factors that may affect sensor performance, such as temperature, humidity, and sources of electromagnetic interference.
A professional installer can help assess these factors and ensure the system is installed correctly.
Regular Maintenance and Testing of Intruder Alarms
Routine maintenance is essential for the continued effectiveness of your intruder alarm system.
This includes testing sensors, checking battery life, and ensuring communication links are functional.
Regular maintenance can prevent system failures and help identify potential issues before they escalate.
Monitored intruder alarms should be inspected twice per annum and non Monitored or self Monitored systems at least once per annum.
Work with your electronic security provider to establish a maintenance schedule and, if necessary, train designated staff members to perform routine tasks, such as battery replacements and sensor cleaning.
Troubleshooting Common Issues
Be prepared to identify and resolve typical problems with intruder alarm systems, such as false alarms, sensor malfunctions, and communication failures.
Understanding common issues and their solutions can save time and resources and help maintain the system’s effectiveness. Consult the system’s user manual or contact your security provider for guidance on troubleshooting and resolving issues.
Employee Training & Response Protocols
Importance of Employee Training
Ensure that employees understand how to use the alarm system and their role in maintaining security.
Proper training can help prevent false alarms, unauthorised access, and other security breaches.
Consider providing periodic refresher training to keep employees up-to-date on best practices and any changes to the system or security protocols.
How to Use the Alarm System
Provide employees with a brief overview of common tasks, such as arming and disarming the system, managing user accounts, and responding to alarm events.
Familiarity with the system can help prevent errors and improve overall security.
Consider creating user guides or reference materials to assist employees in using the system correctly and efficiently.
Responding to Alarm Events
Establish best practices for handling verified and unverified alarms, including communication with the monitoring centre and emergency responders.
Clear protocols can help ensure a timely and effective response to security incidents.
Train employees on the proper procedures for responding to alarm events, such as evacuating the premises, contacting the Police, and preserving the scene for investigation.
Best Practices for Business Security
Layered Security Approach
Implement a layered security approach by using multiple security measures, such as physical security, access control, and surveillance, in conjunction with intruder alarm systems.
This comprehensive approach helps to address various potential threats and provides a more robust security infrastructure.
Physical Security Measures
In addition to intruder alarm systems, consider implementing additional physical security measures, such as reinforced doors, high-quality locks, security bars, and window film.
These measures can help deter intruders, delay forced entry attempts, and provide an extra layer of protection for your business.
Access Control and Visitor Management
Control access to your premises by implementing access control systems, such as key card systems, biometric scanners, or smart locks.
These systems can help restrict access to authorised personnel only, track employee movements within the premises, and prevent unauthorised entry.
Additionally, maintain a visitor management protocol to ensure that visitors are identified, logged, and escorted when necessary.
Incorporate video surveillance into your security strategy to deter crime, monitor activities, and gather evidence in case of an incident.
Properly placed security cameras can help cover key areas, such as entry points, cash handling areas, and inventory storage.
Consider using video analytics to enhance the effectiveness of your surveillance system, such as motion detection, facial recognition, or licence plate recognition.
Regular Security Assessments
Conduct regular security assessments to identify vulnerabilities and evaluate the effectiveness of your security measures.
Review and update security policies and procedures to ensure they remain relevant and effective.
Stay informed about emerging security threats, trends, and technologies that may impact your business.
Employee Awareness and Reporting
Encourage a culture of security awareness among employees.
Train them to recognise potential security threats, such as suspicious behaviour, phishing emails, or social engineering attempts.
Implement a clear reporting process for employees to report security concerns or incidents, and ensure that management takes appropriate action in response.
By understanding the various aspects of intruder alarm systems, businesses can make informed decisions about their security needs.
A comprehensive security approach, including intruder alarms, physical security measures, access control, and video surveillance, can help protect property, assets, and employees while providing peace of mind for business owners and managers.
Regular maintenance, employee training, and adherence to best practices can ensure the ongoing effectiveness of your intruder alarm system and overall security strategy.