DIY Alarms Will Have Unforseen Consequences


There is a proliferation of new DIY alarm and security systems. Tech companies are hungry to offer yet another device and subscription service. Privacy concerns aside, there are some issues with DIY security and alarm systems.

Before delving into potential issues, I’d like to state that DIY is okay. There’s nothing wrong with someone taking charge of their own security or doing a gone project. In fact, I like the idea of democratizing security. I don’t think security should be something only the rich have access to.

DIY alarm systems typically use all one brand. There’s not a lot of cross product compatibility like there is in professional systems. This limits a customer’s options and may force them into choosing less than ideal products.

There is a balance between complexity and funny function, between security and ease of use. If these systems are so easy where do they fall on the security spectrum? If these products are do great at they being used to safeguard their corporate headquarters? The CEO’s home? I doubt it.

The biggest issue with any DIY project is you don’t know what you don’t know. A person may think they have everything installed properly and everything works. There’s nothing else to do. However, they don’t have the knowledge of a professional helping them assess the system.

One major issue DIY alarm devices face is support. There is no team of techs they can send out. Only online or over the phone tech support and product replacement. No real alarm installer would be interested in servicing a DIY install.

These issues aside, I think the alarm industry will come to an impasse with the proliferation of these DIY systems. There have been ongoing issues with how municipalities deal with alarms. Not every police department dispatches immediately to a residential alarm. Professional installers set up systems and train customers to avoid false alarms but they still happen.

As the number of systems increases the number of false alarms will also increase. Poor WiFi, cell service, app issues, phone issues, and just plain but having your phone on you can result in a false alarm but being cancelled. It’s my contention that the number of false alarms will skyrocket. Emergency response, 911 dispatch and police, will be inundated with calls. It’s not fair that the financial and time burden will be placed on these critical services.

I believe the end result will be that police will take any residential alarm a lot less seriously or even adopt policies to not respond to them. Google search for “police response time to alarm” and you’ll find a lot of information about police departments that have adopted a no response policy.

What’s the solution? No one gets an alarm? Only the wealthy sound have alarm systems to keep the numbers down? Open the floodgates and see show things shake out?

I don’t know what the solution is. But I think companies that manufacture and support DIY alarm systems need to be involved in reducing false alarms and in part be held responsible for them. It’s not right to shift the burden to a public service and keep your profits. I think municipalities should focus on charging door false alarms instead of not responding to them.

This needs to happen quickly, like yesterday. If not the 2019 Black Friday and holiday DIY alarm systems soon to be installed will be just the start to a sharp increase in the number of DIY systems which will inevetibly lead to more false alarms.