Advanced alarms in estates

Residential Security Handbook 2021: Secure Living Residential Estate (Industry), Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection, Products

Alarm systems have been with us for years, from the old alarms where wires were stretched across windows, to today’s systems where PIRs detect movement, and in some cases double check that the disturbance is caused by a human, while also taking a video of the incident.

To find out what the latest alarms and related systems have on offer today for residences, especially in estates, Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked Justin Zondagh, CTO of Olarm and Tasha Smith, marketing lead at the Elvey Group for some insights into what they have on the shelf.

When it comes to alarms, most people living in estates don’t even think about having an alarm in their houses because they live in a ‘secure’ environment. We hear of many cases of people not locking their doors, or even leaving them open when they are out. Is this a realistic option or should these residents think again about their home security?

“Security estates clearly provide their residents improved personal security; however, residents shouldn’t leave their personal security exclusively to someone else,” says Zondagh. “Alarm systems can help, not only for the protection of belongings, but also for resident’s personal protection too. Alarm systems can be used as an early warning system to alert security staff to any incident and make response to such an event quicker.”

While perimeter security is considered the first line of security defence and is complemented by outdoor PIR beams and estate security measures, a reliable intruder detection alarm system is the critical ‘end-of-the-line’ in providing complete protection, adds Smith.

“A well-thought-out alarm system will provide inhabitants with the peace of mind that any intrusion, whether they are at home or in a different location, will be automatically detected and an alert sent to the control room as well as the resident. By choosing a modern, smart alarm system that is linked to a mobile device, this open line of communication is ensured.”

Who gets the alarm?

While a house alarm is common in houses that are not on estates, when on an estate, who will get the alarm when something goes wrong? As noted, the resident can receive the alarm on their smartphone, but does it also go to estate security or an external service provider? An external provider may not be the best idea as they will have to go through the access control procedures to get into the estate, which may delay their response.


If the estate security control room handles the alarm, the security operation will have to deal with even more false alarms when the cat jumps in the window. Will residents be willing to pay more for additional feet on the ground?

False alarms are one of the biggest problems in the security industry, notes Zondagh. “If you think about what a false alarm entails, as a security company you get a signal that an incident is occurring and respond to it. This pulls resources such as response offers from other incidents, which may be critical.

“The Olarm App provides a means for the end-user to cancel a responder thus freeing up armed reaction officers to respond to real threats. This reduces the number of false callouts and improves the security service provided through quick response to real incidents.”

Smith notes that, because the alarm systems provided by Elvey are designed to reduce false alarms using customised algorithms, it is unlikely that these systems would contribute to additional work for the operations team. It is important to note, however, that not all systems are created equal and for the purpose of this discussion, claims can only be made for the veracity of the systems from Elvey.

Olarm’s solutions

“We understand that due to the criminal environment in South Africa, people have different alarms already installed in their home and getting these replaced can be a costly exercise,” explains Zondagh. “That’s why Olarm has developed an agnostic solution which works with many different alarm systems. We have been focusing on the main ones within South Africa and one of our big engineering drives has been to integrate with more.”


Image source: Olarm.

Olarm therefore does not supply alarms, but an enabling system for better alarm communication via reliable multi-channel signalling through the Olarm PRO, a monitoring platform which unifies the experience in the control room, enabling faster response through Olarm Command Centre.

It also provides end-users with the Olarm Smart Alarm app which gives them remote control over their current alarm system from wherever they are, whenever they need access to their alarm.

The Olarm PRO may also be connected to the estate’s control room via the Olarm Command Centre, if the estate supports it, affording estate security with the ability to quickly react to any security event in the estate such as an alarm or panic.

Features of the Olarm PRO

• Dual connectivity. Simultaneous signal transmission with both dual SIM GSM (Vodacom and MTN).

• Remote control. Arm or disarm your alarm remotely via the Olarm app.

• Connect armed response. Olarm is supported nationally by over 400+ security companies.

• Smart home control. Remotely open and close doors and/or gates on selected alarm panels.

• Reliability. Superior reliability thanks to Wi-Fi and two SIM cards.

• Quick installation. A single device with one cable makes the installation quick and effortless.

• Future proof. With automatic over-the-air updates, the Olarm PRO is always up to date.

Features of the Olarm app

• Instant notifications. Know immediately in which zone the alarm has been triggered.

• Remote control. Arm or disarm your alarm remotely via the app.

• View zone status. View zone activity status such as by-passed or in alarm mode in real-time.

• Bypass zones. Bypass faulty or problematic zones and still keep your premise secure.

• Multiple users. Allow family and guests to have controlled access to your home alarm.

• Panic button. In-app panic button that alerts other users and/or your monitoring company.

• Power status. View the status of your alarm’s power supply and receive notifications when the power goes on or off.

• Cancel responder. Message your armed response company to cancel any false alarms that may have been generated.

• Doors and gates. Remotely open and close doors and/or gates on selected alarm panels.

• View activity history. See live and historical logs of all areas, zones and user activity.

• Zone activity. Receive notifications when selected zones detect activity.

Features of the Command Centre

• Unified platform. Creates uniformed system to monitor and control alarms bringing all information to one screen.

• Seamless integration. Effortlessly integrates and configures to your current Olarm ecosystem.

• Visual interface. Map-based incident reporting so you can quickly see where an incident is occurring.

• Signal management. View your signals in industry standard Contact ID signal formats.

• Device management. Know the status of your in-field devices and immediately know your coverage.

• Incident management. Timestamps and records all actions taken for effective reporting.

• Event history. View and filter signal events with ease using type, date as well as time.

• IP-based. Software updates are done automatically.

• Effortless configuration. Effortlessly integrates and configures to Olarm PRO alarm communicators and the Olarm app.

• Data security. Data is safe with both data encryption and automated back-ups.

Elvey’s solutions

Elvey supplies alarm systems from DSC, Texecom and Ajax.

DSC alarm solutions

DSC (from Johnson Controls) has a range of motion detectors and glass break units, including pet immune PIRs. The majority of the DSC detectors cater for detection and false alarm prevention through digital signal analysis. Digital information is more accurately analysed using software and is not subject to signal degradation caused by amplification, noise, distortion or signal clipping. The detector’s technology adapts to changing environmental conditions by adjusting critical detection parameters to provide consistency of detection over all temperature ranges.

PowerManage is compatible with Tyco’s DSC PowerSeries and DSC Neo, as well as Visonic PowerMaster. PowerManage has a number of capabilities:

• Automatically forwards events and images received from alarm systems to end-users.

• Allows installers to program alarm systems via a web browser.

• Remote arming and disarming of the system.

• Remote system diagnostics and fault analysis.

An integral part of PowerManage, the VisonicGo app for iOS and Android, enables residential and commercial users to remotely access their security system and perform the following functions:

• Arm and disarm.

• Change screen mode.

• Use biometric authorisation instead of passwords.

• Geofencing.

• Set up alarm and alert push notifications.

• View zone status and bypass zones.

• Add or remove key fobs.

Furthermore, the Johnson Controls Qolsys Smart Home solution allows residents to remotely control their alarm system, automate their lighting, use Google Home to link to their security system, arm/disarm or control their home with voice commands and answer video doorbells from their phone, tablet or the HD colour panel installed in their home.

Ajax alarm solutions

The Ajax system is geared around incorporating home automation with traditional security systems. Ajax doesn’t limit itself to one job. Instead, it completes multiple functions at once. The system immediately alerts users and control rooms if it detects a break-in, smoke or a flood. Additionally, it supports third-party surveillance cameras, making Ajax a singular security centre. It also allows the control and management of linked devices within the household or business such as lighting and doors.

The Ajax Security System app is designed to help users stay in touch with their property from anywhere in the world. Users can:

• Arm/disarm the Ajax alarm system.

• Get instant notifications.

• Manage users.

• Follow the log of events.

• Schedule security.

• Watch security cameras.

• Control smart homes.

Ajax’ intelligent control panels manage all devices within the security system and notify users and alarm response companies about threats immediately. New security and automatic features include automatic over-the-air operating system updates. The range of intruder detectors includes:

• The wireless MotionCam with visual alarm verification (via photo camera) and pet immunity.

• The wireless MotionProtect pet-immune motion detector that includes an algorithm that minimises the risk of false alarms triggered by pets.

• MotionProtect Curtain, a wireless indoor narrow beam motion detector.

• The DoorProtect wireless magnetic opening detector that features an external contact for connecting to third-party NC detectors.

• The DoorProtect Plus which features a built-in accelerometer and reacts to inclination angle changes, vibration and impact.

• GlassProtect wireless glass break detector which uses an electric microphone to recognise low-frequency impact sounds and high-frequency crashing sounds (glass shattering). This two-step glass break detection decreases the likelihood of false alarms.

• CombiProtect wireless motion and glass break detector with pet immunity – the all-in-one detector.

Texecom alarm solutions

Texecom provides a complete range of commercial grade, expandable and communicating control panels featuring integration compatibility with access control, CCTV, home automation and managed alarm-signalling providers.

Texecom Connect integrates with Texecom’s flagship security systems, the Premier Elite Series, to allow you to take direct control of your home and your security. Control the operation of your security system, receive notifications of system events and monitor cameras or activity from anywhere in the world. Users can:

• Arm and disarm.

• Manage different sites, all from one place.

• Use biometric authorisation instead of passwords.

• Set up alarm and alert push notifications.

• View zone status and bypass zones.

• Create recipes for cause and effects (‘if this then that’ feature).

• Control gate and garage automation remotely.

• Alarm companies have complete remote and diagnostics tools via the Texecom Cloud with full offsite programming, including remote keypad, allowing full configuration and/or remote assistance.


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