What is the advantage of having an alarm monitoring service over having a system that contacts you directly via several redundant methods (text, email, phone call, etc.) and tells you the problem so you can call 911 or initiate some other appropriate action?
The reason I ask is because I am coming to distrust pretty much any service based product these days. Whether it be a cable/satellite/streaming service for entertainment, streaming music services, automation products that depend on an Internet connection to operate, or programs or devices that have to phone home to continue to function, it seems as if they have all let me down over the past few years and done so in a way that has inconvenienced me to a degree that far outweighs the total value I got from them during the entire lifesycle that I used them.
When I lived in Las Vegas, NV due to high burglary break-in's, I had my Elk system monitored by Alarm Monitoring Services. I met the owners at an ISC West Convention in Las Vegas and convinced them to look into monitoring DIY systems, of which I was the first. This was over eight years ago.
In Las Vegas, Police would not respond to a burglar alarm call (even from a monitoring service like ADT) UNLESS there was video (or eyewitness) verification that a break-in was 'in progress' due to the high false alarm callouts. ADT solved this by having their own employees respond to alarms, but the monthly cost for this service was very high (as was any 'armed response' company).
I had internal IP cameras that would turn on during an alarm and send motion detected snapshots to my Internet host site. I then had a program written by Dan (electron) that created thumbnail images of that directory and gave the monitoring service the URL so they would be able to see these thumbnail images and click on them to expand if needed.
As part of my service, they agreed to IP monitor my Elk (as I didn't have a land line and didn't want cellular with it) then when an alarm was received call our phone numbers to verify if the call was 'real'. If no response they would click on the thumbnail image and if they saw an intruder (or anyone in the images) they would call the police and state a crime 'in progress' so they would then respond. The images had time/date stamps as well to verify they were looking at a current image. The price was very reasonable (my memory is saying $12/month at that time).
They also monitored my smoke alarms. I also had a panic (silent) alarm and if it was received they would call police and they should respond without video images, though they could look at the cameras as well.
I never had a break-in but I did put the system in test mode and the monitoring service would call back (at their convenience) and report what they saw come in from the system.
The reason I needed this service was because:
1. I worked in a classified/limited area around two hours from my home and could not have a phone during those times. Also, cellular service was not available in a lot of those areas.
2. I traveled a lot and this gave my wife (and me) a piece of mind (be it artificial or realistic).
3. I wanted a 'panic' button in case of a home invasion or other immediate emergency where authorities were quickly needed.
This wound up being a long response but I'm hoping it offers some insight into options and reasons. I don't know if Alarm Monitoring Services would be up for supporting DIY's as I had to quickly (and abruptly) move away due to a sudden and unexpected change of location due to my job. They were friendly, highly professional, and reliable. Their website is monitor1.com in case anyone wants to give them a call and see what they say (please let us know).
I no longer need this service as I now live in a small town of 6000 with the closest town (20 min away) of 12,000. Its an isolated area and crime is extremely low here...mainly due to most of the people living here work for my employer. I also feel a bit bad for abruptly dropping this company, but I had a lot going on at the time (long story there).