Security operators alarm monitoring
What is Alarm Monitoring?
Exploring how alarm monitoring works, the benefits and limitations, how AI enables success, and more.
Rachel Heller, Content Marketing Manager

Alarm monitoring is a key component of any physical security operation. It refers to the use of technology to oversee and manage alarm sensors and devices for signs of unauthorized activity. 

An adaptable, reliable alarm monitoring system helps you enhance the safety and security of your organization by:

  • Decreasing response times with real-time alerts of threats
  • Improving the situational awareness of security operators and responders
  • Increasing operational efficiency with smart prioritization of alarms
  • Enhancing overall security status with a focus on actionable alerts

In this article, we’ll answer the question, “What is alarm monitoring?” by exploring how it works, its benefits and limitations, how AI enables success, and more.


Table of Contents

  1. Alarm monitoring explained
  2. How does alarm monitoring work?
  3. Benefits of an alarm monitoring system
  4. Limitations of alarm monitoring
  5. Requirements your alarm monitoring service should fulfill
  6. How AI is transforming alarm monitoring
  7. Ambient’s AI-powered alarm monitoring


Alarm monitoring explained

Alarm monitoring systems leverage sensors and devices, such as motion detectors, fire alarms, access control, and environmental sensors, to detect unauthorized activity and send alerts to the security team. These sensors and devices may be positioned near doors, windows, perimeter walls, and other areas that are vulnerable to security threats. 

For many organizations, a large sum of the alarms that security teams must verify come from physical access control systems (PACS). PACS dictate who has access to a facility and track who has entered and exited the facility. However, they’re also prone to generating high volumes of false positives. The alerts themselves lack context, which makes manual alarm monitoring incredibly time-consuming for security operators.

Yet, technology that integrates AI allows security teams to automatically clear nuisance false alarms, more quickly and accurately respond to verified threats, and reduce overall alarm volume. For a deeper understanding of alarms, modern security technology also correlates alerts with video footage. Security teams can then use video verification to confirm and investigate incidents.


How does alarm monitoring work?

An alarm monitoring system requires a synergy of technologies in order to function. Sensors, detectors, cameras, and other devices are strategically placed to detect specific events or conditions. 

When an event occurs and an alarm is triggered, these devices send signals to a central monitoring station. Security operators then assess the incoming alerts, determine their validity, and take appropriate action, such as notifying authorities or on-site security personnel.

This alarm monitoring may take place either on-site or off-site. On-site alarm monitoring involves a dedicated team of security operators in a security operations center (SOC) who monitor the alarms and respond to incidents. Off-site alarm monitoring involves using a remote monitoring station to monitor the alarms.


Benefits of an alarm monitoring system

While the benefits of using an alarm monitoring system vary depending on the capabilities of your technology, they may include:

  • Improved security posture: At their core, alarm monitoring systems uplift your security posture with an additional crucial layer of protection. Managing and responding to alerts in real time better equips organizations to safeguard their assets and keep people secure.
  • Proactive incident response: Immediate alerts drive quicker responses to security incidents, reducing any potential damage or loss with proactive threat mitigation.
  • Targeted security measures: With improved visibility into vulnerabilities and where alerts tend to concentrate the most, security teams can make informed decisions on where to optimize security measures and allocate additional resources.
  • Reduced alarm volume: Technology that’s capable of auto-verifying and clearing alarms helps to reduce huge volumes of manual alarm monitoring, allowing security teams to prioritize and respond to real threats.
  • Less stress and alert fatigue: Automatically clearing nuisance alarms not only reduces overall alarm volume but also decreases the stress and fatigue burdening security teams. With less alert fatigue, organizations are less likely to miss incidents and experience employee turnover.
  • Continuous monitoring: These systems operate at all hours, providing the 24/7 vigilance that’s a necessity for a truly secure organization.
  • Cost savings: Investing in an alarm monitoring system can wield significant savings. Mitigating damages, deterring theft and vandalism, promoting smart resource allocation, and enabling strategic decision-making all add up to sustained financial benefits.


Limitations of alarm monitoring

Much like the advantages of this technology, the constraints it presents are contingent upon the sophistication of your solution and the features, or lack thereof, that it encompasses. These limitations may include: 

  • Manual verification and clearing: If your system does not enable auto-verification, then manually assessing each alarm as they come in acts as a significant time sink for security teams. This pulls them away from high-value activities that proactively keep their organizations secure.
  • Lack of context: If the alerts that your alarm monitoring system receives lack context, distinguishing activity from actual threats becomes all the more time-consuming for operators. But, again, this limitation does not apply to all systems. Technology that seamlessly correlates alerts with video footage allows operators to quickly use video verification when confirming and responding to threats. 
  • High volume of alarms: Receiving a high volume of alarms — with most being false positives — overwhelms security teams and dilutes their ability to effectively respond to threats. Yet, technology with automated workflows, capable of filtering out those that are purely for situational or behavioral awareness, avoids this limitation.
  • Unforeseen technical issues: As with any solution, technical glitches, software bugs, or hardware failures can temporarily disrupt the functioning of the alarm monitoring system. It’s crucial to carefully evaluate vendors for the most trusted, state-of-the-art solution to mitigate these issues. 


Requirements your alarm monitoring service should fulfill

Not all alarm monitoring platforms possess the capabilities that you need to uplift your security program and gain the maximum security ROI. Consider these requirements when vetting solutions:

  • Scalable to meet your needs: Your chosen system should be scalable to accommodate growth. As your organization expands, your alarm monitoring solution should easily scale up to cover new areas and assets.
  • Integration with existing infrastructure: The platform should easily integrate with your existing security infrastructure, including cameras, sensors, access control systems, and other relevant devices that necessitate seamless communication with the alarm monitoring system.
  • Comprehensive alarm oversight: Missing an alarm jeopardizes your organization’s security and exposes vulnerabilities to potential threats. Your chosen solution should proficiently handle every alarm that arises, leaving no room for oversight.
  • User-friendly interface and training: The system should have an intuitive, easy-to-navigate user interface that simplifies the management of alarms, notifications, and user permissions.
  • Training and support: Select a technology vendor that provides your security team with adequate training and supportive resources so that they are empowered to use the system effectively.
  • Data security and encryption: Your chosen solution should employ robust encryption methods to safeguard sensitive data transmitted between devices. All data should be encrypted in transit and at rest.

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How AI is transforming alarm monitoring

Artificial intelligence redefines the possibilities of alarm monitoring. AI technology empowers operators to better safeguard their organizations by efficiently prioritizing real alerts, all while eliminating the manual efforts that lead to vulnerabilities and fatigue.

AI-powered alarm monitoring systems can:

  • Detect threats more accurately: Advanced AI, interpreting the world as humans would, takes in the full context of a scene to distinguish between normal activity and legitimate threats. This way, AI eliminates noise so teams can productively focus on verified, actionable threats.
  • Eliminate manual effort: AI automatically verifies and clears alarms, reducing huge volumes of manual alarm monitoring. Security teams can spend more time responding to real alerts, rather than clearing false ones.
  • Reduce alert fatigue: By automatically clearing false alarms and acknowledging only verified threats, AI reduces the alert fatigue and stress that currently overwhelms many security teams. 


Ambient’s AI-powered alarm monitoring correlates PACS alerts and security camera streams with AI and computer vision intelligence to automatically determine which alerts are genuine, prioritize threats, and trigger immediate action from your security team.

Our platform delivers on several fronts:

  • Detect intrusions instantly
  • Clear noisy alarms automatically
  • Acknowledge only verified threats
  • Initiate a response within seconds

Our Fortune 500 customers see these results:

  • 90%+ reduction in access control alarms
  • 15,000+ hours saved each year with automatic alarm verification
  • 10x faster real-time responses to legitimate threats

Explore how our AI-driven security technology can enhance your alarm monitoring operations.

Rachel Heller, Content Marketing Manager