Offsite Monitoring

Keeping an eye on things.
So you don't have to.

With the noise they emit, sirens and alarm bells may deter an intruder or attract the attention of a passerby, but who responds to these alarms? Just like the story about the boy that cried wolf, many people ignore them due to the frequency and number of false alarms that occur. The cost of hiring security officers to patrol a property 24/7 is prohibitive and a luxury few businesses can afford.

Offsite monitoring provides added peace of mind by ensuring security personnel are alerted when an alarm is activated so that a response can be initiated, security guards dispatched, or emergency services summoned. The alarm system is connected to a central monitoring station via a traditional analog phone line, a cellular network, a radio network (GPRS/GSM), or - as is becoming increasingly more common - an IP path, which is then used to send signals from the alarm control panel to the monitoring station. The operators can see what type of alarm is coming through and take appropriate action.

All ICT system controllers include an onboard Ethernet adapter with built in IP reporting functionality, with most controllers also including an onboard modem to communicate alarms via a traditional telephone line. If your existing alarm panel or dialer only supports ContactID, our PostX IP Reporting Module can be used to transition from traditional PSTN reporting to an IP capable device with minimal effort and at a low cost. It converts any standard ContactID alarm panel to an IP reporting device with full polling and PSTN backup options.

Traditional Analog Monitoring

When alarm systems first started reporting to a central monitoring station they often used a third party alarm dialer. This device had one or more inputs onboard, which would initiate a phone call to a central monitoring station. The dialler would use either a series of pulses or beeps, or DTMF (Dual-tone multi-frequency) tones to communicate a message to an alarm receiver at the monitoring station, much like morse code.

As alarm monitoring became more popular, more and more alarm panels came out with onboard dialers, and the industry started to settle on a number of standards or protocols for the communication of alarms.


ContactID is the most popular of these protocols, and uses DTMF tones to send a string of numbers representing account, area and zone which relies on the database inside the monitoring software being accurate. The information the monitoring station receives is only ever as good as that provided by the technician during installation.

Entering the Digital World with IP Monitoring

As technology improves and more and more services and functions are being performed online, traditional analog monitoring systems are being forced into the digital world. IP alarm monitoring achieves the same thing as ContactID alarm monitoring (to transmit an alarm message to a central monitoring station), only it does this across the internet.

Copper phone lines are costly to maintain, and with line rental and user charges the cost of an analog system quickly mounts up. Moving your alarm system to a fully IP solution and utilizing your existing internet connection, can provide significant savings.

Another key feature is that IP monitoring is essentially always online to the monitoring station, with a default regular polling time of 90 seconds. Many alarm diallers only test once every 24 hours, or sometimes once every 5 days! Message transmission is almost instant, and a lost connection can be detected in 90 seconds or less.

IP Monitoring can utilize existing IT infrastructure, and certainly won't 'tie up' the internet connection the way an alarm dialer does with a phone line. IP Monitoring uses such a small amount of bandwidth that it can sit on your existing network without any noticeable effect on other network traffic.


The ArmorIP protocol takes a ContactID message and encapsulates it inside a TCP/IP message. Along with this is the ability to add additional information if it is available, such as panel name, event time, panel type, serial number, zone or user name, and much more. This data is all transmitted across the internet to the monitoring station.

The message can be received at the monitoring station either by the existing receiver (if it is IP capable), or by the ArmorIP software running on a server. The ArmorIP software has the added advantage of being able to display all of the additional data that comes with the ArmorIP protocol. This means that changes to names of users, areas and zones on site will be transmitted to the monitoring station as they are seen on site, so there are no more mismatches between what the monitoring station and the people on site are looking at.

The ArmorIP server receives the IP message from the alarm panel, sends an acknowledgement to the panel, then passes the data to the alarm receiver via RS232 using the Ademco 685 protocol. This allows the monitoring station to utilize their existing software for processing and tracking the alarm, and optionally displaying the alarm direct from ArmorIP as well, to ensure the additional information received from site is seen.

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