Why do I have to have a monthly plan for the Shield alarm or Shield App?

We have to charge fees because of both 911 surcharge laws, Verizon connection fees, and the cost to maintain a central alert infrastructure.

911 Surcharges

Almost all phone lines in the United States have a monthly 911 surcharge fee. This is how 911 is funded. Nearly all legislation for 911 surcharges for phones lines also apply to cellular connections and data lines for alarms. SCW Shield has both a IP based data line and an optional backup Cellular line through Verizon. Alerts are processed and pushed to your app using these services. Additionally, all SCW Shields Alarm Panels connect to a central server infrastructure (even when not professionally monitored) and receive automatically firmware and app updates.

But your camera app is free and can send alerts, why does Shield cost money monthly if I am self-monitoring?

Yes, but these devices send data in different ways and are regulated differently.

SCW Go and SCW Easyview both directly connect to your device directly. If you setup email alerts with a SCW camera system, you use your own email address to send emails. There's no central server at all for SCW to maintain.

SCW Shield uses a Verizon backup line or your internet connection to send data to a central server. This central server then sends you and, if you have selected a pro-monitoring plan, the central monitoring station, Security Central, an alert.

Alarms must comply with UL Standard 827 as well as tons of state and local regulations. Alarm station/server regulation requirements include multiple failsafe communication protocols, disaster recovery plans, environmental monitoring, and a secondary failsafe server and regulations that cover safety, cyber security, access control, and backup power system standards. Alarms require using a central station or server since they are regulated - the state has an interest in preventing fraudulent or excessive use of 911.