Industry Glossary

  • Access Control System
    These systems control access, provide security badge options, and track employee and equipment movements in and out of the premises or restricted areas.
  • Access Control Card
    A card coded with data which is required by a card reader to gain access to an access control area.
  • Account Contact
    A designated individual who a security company contacts for specific reasons such as IT or Accounts payables.
  • Alarm Monitoring
    A service provided by a central monitoring station; when your alarm is triggered by an intrusion or fire at your property, the signal will transmit to a team of certified operators who will dispatch emergency personnel and record the incident.
  • Alarm Event
    An occurrence that changes the status of an alarm device from monitoring to detected
  • Alarm Signal
    An audible or visual alert to warn of a problem
  • Alarm System
    An alarm system consists of any mechanism that triggers an audio or visual alert to warn of a problem, such as a fire or a burglar entering
  • Alarm Verification
    The means of confirming that an actual intrusion has taken place. There are many ways to verify an alarm event has occurred: – Audio Verification utilizes microphones so that central station operators can listen in to determine if an alarm is real or not. – Call Verification utilizes phone calls to attempt to verify the alarm. – Video Verification utilizes cameras that are installed in the same area as the alarm device so that the operators can view what caused the alarm.
  • Arm/Arming
    The act of turning your security system on, so that it is ready to detect an alarm event.
  • Biometric Identification
    A method using a person’s physical or chemical attributes for identification to the alarm system or the monitoring facility
  • Bypass (Bypass a Zone)
    The act of deactivating a zone(s) before arming the security system. The security system will ignore alarm events in the bypassed zone. [Note: A system may cover multiple zones]
  • Burglar Alarm
    A burglar alarm is a mechanical system used to scare off burglars with a loud bell or siren if they breach a protected area. When monitored by a certified central station the property has the added protection of the local authorities being notified at the time of the incident.
  • Burglary (Intrusion)
    A forced entry of a secure location resulting in the damage or theft of property.
  • Business Security System (Commercial Security System)
    A burglar alarm integrated with at least one other service such as access control, video surveillance and recording, environmental monitoring and more.
  • Call List (Emergency Notification List)
    A list of user authorized agents and their telephone numbers, in the order that the monitoring facility is to follow in attempting to reach someone for notification purposes. Unless otherwise instructed, the notification process stops when one person has been notified.
  • Call Verification
    A type of alarm verification in which a central station operator places one or more phone calls in an attempt to verify that a real alarm, not a false alarm, has occurred. If there is no answer, the operator will dispatch the authorities to the non-verified alarm.
  • Carbon Monoxide
    Carbon monoxide gas or CO is a by-product of burning fossil fuels. It is a colorless, odorless, and highly toxic gas. A 0.1% concentration of carbon monoxide can be deadly. Some common sources of carbon monoxide are old or leaky furnaces, blocked gas or appliance vents, fireplaces, stoves, vehicles in attached garages, and even tobacco smoke. Carbon monoxide is a serious and common concern as it is present in almost every home in very small concentrations.
  • Carbon Monoxide Monitor/Detector
    A device that monitors the presence and levels of carbon monoxide gas in a given area.
  • Carbon Monoxide Monitoring
    If the Carbon Monoxide Monitor is tripped, a signal will be sent to the central station and the proper authorities will be notified to respond.
  • Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)
    A television system in which signals are not publicly circulated. Cameras are linked to television monitors in a restricted region such as a store, an office building, or on a college campus.
  • Cellular Alarm Monitoring
    A type of alarm communication path that uses the digital cellular network to send an alarm signal from the control panel to a central monitoring station’s cellular receivers. This type of alarm monitoring requires a digital cellular communicator hardwired into the security system and a cellular monitoring contract. The benefits of cellular monitoring are that no phone line is needed and there is no chance of a criminal cutting your alarm communication line as it is a wireless cellular signal. Cellular monitoring is one of the most reliable ways to monitor a security system.
  • Central Monitoring Station
    A secure location where alarm signals are monitored by live central station operators 24 hours 7 days a week. The term can also be used to refer to a company that provides services to monitor burglar, fire and medical alarm systems. The central monitoring station may also provide watchmen and supervisory services as well as runner service for fire alarms. Central monitoring stations use special telephone lines, computers, receivers and trained staff to monitor their customer’s security systems and call the appropriate authorities in the event an alarm signal is received.
  • Central Station Operator
    A person who works in a central monitoring station whose job is to respond to incoming alarm signals and then follow appropriate dispatch procedures.
  • Central Station Protective Signaling Services
    This UL category covers the monitoring and dispatching of fire alarms as required by the National Fire Alarm Code.
  • Control Panel
    The central computer of a security system which commands, and receive information from, all the monitoring devices (contacts, motion detectors, glass break detectors, etc). It processes the information and, if needed, triggers an alarm (such as a siren or strobe light). A control panel can be connected with a central monitoring station making it a part of a monitored security system.
  • Delay Zone
    A zone, where once violated, there is a predetermined lapse of time before the alarm is triggered.
  • Digital Cellular Communicator
    A digital electronic device that provides a cellular connection between a security system and a central monitoring station. These communicators have built-in SIM cards and utilize existing wireless networks.
  • Digital Video Monitoring System
    ?? A video security system that can be used with a VCR, DVR, or personal computer.
  • Disarm
    The act of turning your security system off, so that it will no longer detect an alarm event.
  • Dispatch
    The act of calling in an alarm event to the proper authorities. Central station operators are the ones typically doing the dispatch.
  • Door/Window Contact
    Detects if a window or door is opened or closed. Contacts consist of an alarm transmitter and a magnet.
  • Dual Path (Cellular/IP) Monitoring
    A type of alarm monitoring that uses two redundant paths to send alarm signals to a central monitoring station. Typically the internet protocol (IP) monitoring path is used as a primary path because it allows for constant polling of the signal. If IP connection is lost, the cellular/IP communicator will automatically switch over to cellular communication. This type of alarm monitoring is the most reliable path available.
  • Dual Technology (DTEC)
    A single alarm device that detects alarms using two different types of technology. Most commonly refers to a motion detector that utilizes passive infra-red (PIR) and microwave detection.
  • Duress Code
    A code that is used if you are ever forced to disarm your security system. Entering a duress code, instead of your regular keypad code, will discreetly alert the monitoring center to an emergency situation. The alarm system will act as if your regular code was used; however, the monitoring center will notify the police department of your emergency.
  • Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
    A device that records video to a hard disk in digital format.
  • Entry/Exit Delay
    A built-in delay on any entry/exit zone of a security system. This delay gives you time to enter/exit your business after arming your security system to avoid setting off the alarm. Entry/exit delays can be anywhere from 15 seconds to 120 seconds in duration.
  • Entry/Exit Zone
    An alarm zone that protects the area(s) most frequently used to enter your property. For business security these zones usually protect the front door and back doors.
  • Environmental Monitoring
    Refers to a range of alarm devices that monitor environmental changes. Smoke detectors, heat detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, water detectors, and temperature detectors are all devices that can monitor environmental change. A burglar alarm system that has one or more of these devices can protect against a range of threats beyond common burglaries. In the event an environmental alarm device sends an alarm, central station operators would dispatch the proper authorities: fire department for a smoke alarm, paramedics for a carbon monoxide alarm, or the customer for a temperature or flood alarm.
  • External Sirens
    A weatherproof siren that can alert neighbors and emergency responders to a location where an intrusion has occurred. External sirens typically have a much higher decibel (dB) level than an indoor siren.
  • False Alarm
    An emergency alarm, such as a fire alarm, that is set off unnecessarily. False alarms wastes public resources as emergency responders spend time and money responding to an incident that is not a real emergency.
  • Fingerprint Verification
    Refers to the automated method of verifying a match between an individual’s fingerprints and stored data on file. Fingerprints are one of many forms of biometric identification
  • Fire Alarm
    A device, such as a siren, used in announcing the outbreak of a fire.
  • Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP)
    The central computer of a fire alarm system. Every device on the fire system reports back to the control panel with supervisory signals and alarm signals. An FACP panel can be connected with a central monitoring station by many different alarm communication paths making it a monitored fire alarm system, or it can be a local fire alarm system used for life safety only.
  • Fire Alarm System
    A security system consisting of a fire alarm control panel, alarm devices, alarm notification devices, fire annunciators, power supplies, and wiring. Most fire alarm systems, because they are life safety devices, must be designed and installed to the codes of the local jurisdiction. A fire alarm system detects fire, notifies the occupants or persons in the surrounding area, summons the fire service, and controls all the fire alarm components in a building.
  • Fire Annunciator
    A fire alarm system device that provides remote access to sensors and critical systems functions such as system reset, signal silencing, authority dispatch, and sprinklers. Every zone in the fire alarm system is connected to the annunciator. Through the use of the annuciator’s LED screen, a map of the site showing each zone, and highlighting the violated zone, will help to locate the fire.
  • Flood Detector
    A security system device consisting of an alarm transmitter and a probe that detects the presence of water. The transmitter can be hardwired or wireless and is typically mounted well above where water is expected so the transmitter’s circuitry is safe. The probe is then mounted a few inches off the ground so that the flood is detected as early as possible. Flood detectors are typically installed in basements, cellars, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and anywhere else where there’s potential for water damage.
  • Freeze Sensor
    A security system device that sends an alarm when a preset low temperature is reached. Different from temperature sensors, freeze sensors are only able to detect abnormally low temperatures.
  • Fully Supervised Loop (FSL)
    A hardwired connection in which the current is constantly flowing through the wire; any disruption in this signal will signify an alarm event. If you have a device connected to an alarm control panel using a FSL, the panel is constantly polling that device and as soon as the signal is lost it will send a trouble signal.
  • General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
    A packet based wireless communication service. It is based on Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) and complements existing services like Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). GPRS packet based services are faster and cost less than circuit-switched services since communication channels are used on a shared-use, as-packets-are-needed basis instead of dedicated to one user at a time.
  • Glassbreak Detector (GBD)
    A security system device that detects the frequency of broken glass. A glassbreak detector has a highly sensitive microphone that can distinguish between different sound frequencies and recognize the exact frequency of broken glass, which if detected causes an alarm.
  • Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM)
    GSM is a digital mobile telephone system and is the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world. GSM is considered a second generation (2G) mobile phone system because its data is digital.
  • Hardwired Security System
    A security system that has alarm devices connected to a control panel by low-voltage wires.
  • Heat Detector
    A burglar alarm or fire alarm device that detects a preset high temperature or a rapid rate-of-rise (ROR) in temperature. Heat detectors can be either electrical or mechanical in operation. The most common types are thermocouple and electro-pneumatic, which both respond to changes in ambient temperature. If the ambient temperature rises above a predetermined threshold, then an alarm signal is triggered.
  • Hidden Camera
    A hidden security camera used to film people without letting them know they are under surveillance. The camera is “hidden” because it is either not visible to the subject being filmed, or is disguised as another object. Hidden cameras have become popular for household video surveillance, and can be built into common household objects such as smoke detectors, clock radios, motion detectors, ball caps, plants, and cell phones. Hidden cameras may also be used commercially as security cameras.
  • Holdup Switch/Button
    A type of panic button that usually does not set off an audible alarm. When the holdup switch is activated it sends a panic alarm to the central monitoring station which is handled as an automatic dispatch. These devices are usually mounted underneath a checkout counter or underneath a bank teller’s workstation so that a person in distress can discreetly activate it. When activated, the security system does not set off an audible siren so that the criminal committing the holdup is not made aware that an alarm has been activated.
  • Home Security
    A system that secures a home from burglaries, fires, or environmental hazards using security systems, alarm monitoring, video monitoring, and/or video surveillance.
  • Irregular Closing
    When a security system is armed outside of its normal schedule
  • Irregular Opening
    When a security system is disarmed outside of its normal schedule.
  • Interior Protection
    A type of business or home security that secures the premises by causing an alarm after an intruder has entered the location. Motion detectors and glassbreak detectors are the most common alarm devices used for interior protection.
  • Internet Alarm Monitoring
    A type of alarm communication path that uses an Ethernet connection to send an alarm signal over the internet from the control panel to a central monitoring station’s IP receivers. Internet communication is fully supervised so the connection is constantly polled by the central station receiver. If the connection is lost, a trouble alarm occurs. This type of alarm monitoring requires an IP communicator hardwired into the security system and an internet monitoring contract.
  • Internet Protocol (IP)
    A data-oriented protocol used for communicating data across a packet switched inter-network.
  • Internet Protocol Address (IP Address)
    A unique 12 digit code that identifies a computer or device on an IP network. XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX is the format for IP address with each X a number between 0 and 255. IP networks use the IP address to forward messages between different devices on the network.
  • Ionization Detection
    A type of smoke detection used in most smoke detectors as it is inexpensive and better at detecting smaller amounts of smoke produced by flaming fires. Smoke detectors using ionization detection use an ionization chamber and a source of ionizing radiation to detect smoke.
  • Key fob
    A key-chain remote used to arm and disarm a security system with the touch of a button. Keyfob buttons can usually be programmed for many different functions such as system armings and disarmings, panic alarms, and X10 lighting. In apartments and condominiums where there are common areas that many different people need access to, a keyfob can also double as a proximity card that allows authorized access to restricted areas.
  • Key Holder
    A nominated person who is able to operate the security system and has keys to the property. In the event of an alarm, the dispatched authorities will often request a key holder to meet them at the alarmed location so that they have access to investigate the alarm.
  • Keypad
    Used for operating a fire or burglar alarm system. Typically found at every entry area to an alarmed location, keypads often allow one touch arming and disarming as well as other system functionality.
  • Keypad Codes
    This is the code you enter into the keypad to arm, disarm and program the security system.
  • Line Security Alarm
    A system that monitors the integrity of the communication link between the alarm system and the monitoring facility, or between the alarm system and the serving telephone company’s nearest switching center.
  • Local Smoke Detector
    A battery operated, non-monitored smoke detector used for life safety reasons only. Building codes require a certain amount of local smoke detectors to ensure that occupants would be woken up and alerted to the threat of fire.
  • Local Security System
    A burglar alarm system that is not connected to a central monitoring station. When an alarm signal is received by the control panel, the system sounds a local siren.
  • Master User
    A user with complete ability to both modify and access information about the security system.
  • Master Code
    A code for a security system that has additional privileges such as being able to delete other user codes.
  • Medical Alarm System
    A life safety system consisting of an electronic device worn on a bracelet or necklace and a control panel that can auto dial telephone numbers or dial a central monitoring station when the device is activated by the user. Depending on the severity of the situation, alarm monitoring staff will summon friends, family or emergency personnel.
  • Mercantile Burglar Alarm Systems
    This UL category covers the installation and maintenance of commercial alarm systems.
  • Microwave Detector
    A type of motion detector that emits microwaves and looks for returning waves. When the microwaves come into contact with a moving object, some of the microwave energy is reflected back and that triggers an alarm. Heat, light, sound, or vibration will not set off a microwave detector and therefore they are ideal for extreme environments where typical passive infrared (PIR) motion detectors would be ineffective.
  • Monitored Security System
    The basic idea of alarm monitoring is to inform a key holder and local police, fire, or medical response that the security system has been tripped. While a local security system is meant to be a deterrent, a monitored security system is meant to catch the criminal in the act and protect anyone that may be home during a robbery. Monitored security systems are backed a live central monitoring station 24/7.
  • Monitored Smoke Detector
    A monitored smoke detector sounds a local siren and also sends an alarm signal to a central monitoring station so that the fire department is made aware of the fire.
  • Motion Activated Cameras
    A security camera that is set to record based on the detection of motion. These cameras can either distinguish pixilation changes to begin the recording, or they can use built-in motion detectors to activate the recording.
  • Motion Detector
    An alarm device that uses passive infrared or microwave detection to detect motion. Some motion detectors are even more advanced, utilizing dual technology detection or pet immunity.
  • Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
    A telecommunications standard for transmitting messages that contain multimedia objects such as images, video, audio, or rich text. It is an extension of the SMS standard that allows for longer message lengths and is used most often in sending picture text messages.
  • National Industrial Security Systems
    This UL category covers the installation, monitoring and maintenance of security systems for federal facilities in accordance with guidelines issued by the U. S. Department of Defense.
  • Non-Verified Alarm
    The alarm status after a call verification attempt where no one has answered the phone.
  • Panic Alarm
    A system that reports a general of perceived emergency, such as including the presence of one or more unruly or inebriated individuals, unwanted persons trying to gain entry, observed intruders in a private area, or a medical emergency. Provides police with little specific information, but is often the only way a user can call for assistance under abnormal conditions.
  • Passive Infra-Red (PIR) Motion Detector
    An alarm device that measures infrared (IR) light radiating from objects in its field of view to sense motion and activate an alarm. Once the PIR motion detector is installed, it settles into a normal state with a normal temperature. Apparent motion is detected when an infrared source with another temperature, such as a human, passes in front of the PIR detector and changes the normal temperature causing an alarm.
  • Proximity Card
    A badge, tag, or card that grants a user access to a restricted area when placed close to a proximity reader.
  • Proximity Reader
    An access control device that controls an electronic lock. When a proximity card is placed near a proximity reader access is granted.
  • Rate-of-Rise (ROR) Heat Detectors
    Heat detector that triggers an alarm when a certain change in temperature is registered in a predetermined small amount of time. (e.g. 15, change in a ten minute period)
  • Recessed Door/Window Contact
    A door/window contact that is drilled and mounted flush into the frame of a door or window. Recessed door/window contacts make for clean and aesthetic installations since you cannot see the contact when the door or window is closed.
  • Remote Keypad
    A non-fixed keypad that can arm and disarm a security system from a defined distance to the control panel.
  • Remote Video Monitoring (RVM) (Remote Video Surveillance)
    A method of automatically obtaining video information from isolated locations and transferring them to a central station workstation for processing.
  • Remote Access
    Remote access is the ability to get access to a particular computer or network from a distant location.
  • Repeater
    An electronic device that receives an alarm signal and re-transmits it at a higher level, or onto the other side of an obstruction, so that the signal can cover longer distances without degradation. Repeaters are used to extend the range of a security system’s control panel so that you can have alarm devices further than the normal control panel range would allow.
  • Radio Frequency (RF) Wireless Signal
    Wireless alarm devices and control panels use RF to transmit alarm signals.
  • Router
    A device that provides IP address routing, network address translation, DHCP functions, firewall functions and LAN connectivity similar to a network switch. If the router is wireless, it can also provide connectivity for all wireless alarm devices on the LAN.
  • Runner Service
    A service provided by a monitoring company in which a trained agent is sent out in response to an alarm.
  • Security Camera
    A high quality video camera that is used for video verification monitoring or video surveillance.
  • Security System
    An electronic system that is designed to prevent theft or intrusion and protect property and life. Burglar alarm systems, access control systems, fire alarm systems and video surveillance systems are all types of security systems.
  • Short Message Service (SMS)
    A telecommunications standard that sends and receives text messages utilizing the GSM data channel.
  • Silent Alarm
    An alarm that makes no audible noise. The control panel notifies central station operators of an alarm without setting off the security system sirens. The central station operators immediately dispatch the police who have a chance to arrive unexpectedly and catch the criminal in the act. Panic buttons are often programmed as silent alarms.
  • Siren
    A security system device that emits a loud noise to scare away trespassers and alert nearby witnesses that an alarm event has occurred.
  • Smoke Detector
    A device that detects smoke and issues an alarm to alert nearby people that there is a potential fire.
  • Standard User
    A user with limited ability to both modify and access information about the security system.
  • Stay Mode
    An arming sequence of a security system that bypasses all interior motion detectors. It is meant to be used when a client arms their system at night, so that the occupants can still roam freely throughout the alarmed premises. Only the perimeter detection (e.g. door/window contacts) and certain types of interior protection (e.g. glassbreak detectors) would be armed this mode is selected.
  • Supervisory Signal
    An alarm signal that monitors an alarm device or alarm control panel. Wireless security system control panels constantly send out requests to all the programmed devices on the system. When an alarm device does not respond, the control panel sends a supervisory signal to the central monitoring station detailing the device that needs service.
  • System Contact
    A user authorized to cancel alarm signals, interact with the monitoring center and customer service department regarding the alarm system.
  • UL Listed Central Station
    A common way to refer to a central monitoring station that has demonstrated the ability to provide monitoring service that complies with UL’s strict standards. UL requirements cover building structure, receiving and monitoring equipment, staffing issues, as well as installation and ongoing service. In order to be able to provide UL complying service, the building, equipment and staffing requirements have to be met at all times.
  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
    A U.S. not-for-profit privately owned and operated product safety testing and certification organization. The UL develops standards and test procedures for products, materials, components, assemblies, tools and equipment, chiefly dealing with product safety.
  • UL Listed
    A certification that a particular product or service has been inspected by Underwriters Laboratories for proper design, operation, and reliability.
  • User Code
    A code used to arm and disarm a security system. Certain security systems allow for multiple user codes so that you can keep track of who armed or disarmed the system.
  • Verification Codes (V – Codes)
    A confidential, user specific, numeric code which identifies the user, their company, and their level of access to the monitoring center. A V-Code is used to verify a person’s ability to make account and system changes to the security system.
  • Video Surveillance
    A type of security that uses a digital video recorder (DVR) as well as security cameras to monitor a location. Video data is stored on the DVR and can be retrieved in the event of an intrusion or other emergency.
  • Video Surveillance System
    Security cameras and/or closed circuit television systems used in conjunction with several types of burglar alarms.
  • Video Verification
    The process of verifying an alarm by using security cameras that are in the same location as alarm devices.
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
    Low cost telephone services that send calls over the Internet instead of traditional phone lines or any other IP-based network.
  • Zone
    An identifiable device, or group of devices, assigned to monitor an area. Zones are used to identify which alarm device triggered the alarm event to occur, so that the central station operators can provide location information to the responding authorities.
  • Zone Descriptor
    A name or phrase that identifies the type of alarm device connected to a security system as well as the location assigned to that device. For example, a motion detector in the living room might have a zone description of “Living Room Motion.”
  • Zone Expanders
    Provide additional zones for a security system beyond what the manufactured settings.
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