MyAlarm.com gives customers full disclosure
By Jennifer Sanasie
With all the technologies available to communicate these days, Dave Ferguson, president of Richmond, B.C. based MyAlarm.com, thought it would be a good idea to put them to use and push information out to his customers in the format of their choice.
By Jennifer Sanasie
“Let’s make use of all the technology and communication methods we
have. I want to let [customers] see [alarm activity] on BlackBerries,
iphones, MSN; there’s just not enough use of technology so let’s do
it,” says Ferguson.
It used to be that people were paying for monitored alarm systems, and
they never saw anything unless the alarm went off, says Ferguson. “I
wanted to create a company that allowed the customer to have full
access to their alarm and its settings,” he added. The company allows customers to see what is going on with their alarm systems 24/7.
Ferguson has been in the security industry for over 25 years, and
before he founded MyAlarm.com in 1998 he was working for a small alarm
company in Vancouver, B.C. He explains a situation where they were
supposed to install a large number of alarms but no monitoring systems.
“I thought to myself you have to have a monitoring system!” Ferguson
says. He decided he would invent his own automated monitoring system
that would send voice messages to various phone numbers: this was the
beginning of MyAlarm.com.
MyAlarm.com has three employees. It has evolved to provide end-users
with up-to-date automated alerts about what is going on in their homes
or at their businesses. Customers are able to receive messages about
alarm activity via text, MSN instant messenger, Twitter, Facebook, and
MyAlarm.com allows all subscribers to access their alarm information
online. Ferguson explains that end-users are paying for a service, “so
why not let them see the activity involved with their signals.” Some
people may be afraid to have alarm information online, but Ferguson
says that the website is as secure as any bank website.
Customers can log on to their account through the MyAlarm.com website
and see a complete history as well as current activity on their
systems. Users can perform administrative tasks online such as enabling
or disabling alerts, or changing user descriptions. “Why not allow the
end user to see what’s involved with the signals,” says Ferguson.
MyAlarm.com’s customers are half residential, and half commercial.
Both residential and commercial customers have found many uses for the
information now made available to them. For example, homeowners who have
cleaners come and go during the day can get alerts to let them know
when the cleaner has arrived or left.
People are also using MyAlarm.com to help them keep track of their
children.. “Parents love to know when their kids are coming home,”
Ferguson says. As soon as their child comes home a text message can be
sent to a parent’s cellphone.
There is also a feature included for those who are looking after the
elderly, as MyAlarm.com has a request for help feature that allows
elderly people in the home to send a request for help message to their
caregivers or other people in their homes.
Businesses have found many uses for MyAlarm.com, as it offers custom
made systems for commercial use. Some businesses use the alarm system
as a time and attendance tool. As soon as a code is entered the time is
recorded, and the information is automatically sent to payroll. This
feature also helps security because it allows them to see when people
are coming and going, and also allows employers to see what rooms
employees are entering and at what times.
Ferguson says many of his customers have interesting ideas for custom applications.
One venture that Ferguson has taken on is a virtual neighbourhoods
concept. This program allows neighbourhoods involved in Block Watch or
Neighbourhood Watch to subscribe to have text messages, e-mails or
MSN/Yahoo alerts sent when an alarm, trouble or request for assistance
signal is sent to a list of pre-selected numbers of people involved in
Although MyAlarm.com promotes the use of all technology, Ferguson
acknowledges that it is still important to have operator-monitored
alarms. Many of MyAlarm.com’s clients also have a live operator
monitoring system. Clients can arrange the operator-assisted alarm on
their own, or purchase a package from MyAlarm.com that includes a live
operator-assisted response along with the online messaging alert system.
MyAlarm.com is run on a no contract basis, and cost $19.95 per month
for both residential and commercial users. Ferguson says unlike other
alarm companies he is not motivated to sign a contract, but provide a
service that meets customer needs.
“If my services aren’t up to
standard, fire me” he says, “we should be competing on who has the
best monitoring service, not who can sign the most contracts.”