For decades the home security/alarm system industry produced more or less the same products, with the same basic set of features. For decades consumers accepted this basic security system as it was. If the equipment was reliable and the monitoring station had adequate staff and facilities, these conventional security alarm systems performed adequately and helped deter burglary.
But things changed. Two things, in particular. First: the burglars. If you give humans enough time they will eventually figure out a way around their problems. Burglars had a problem with security alarm systems. So they found a way to “beat the system.”
The second change was in the lifestyle and expectations of consumers, and the technology available to them. In an increasingly mobile world, today’s consumer has greater need for mobile information and connectivity. As technology provided the means for transporting and controlling large volumes of data, the typical consumer developed both a desire and an expectation to have that data at their fingertips, regardless of their location.
Burglars vs. Security Systems
A basic security system consists of alarm equipment at the customer’s home, and a monitoring station in a central location. Traditionally, the alarm system connects to the monitoring station via the home phone line. When security sensors within the home detect intrusion, they sound an alarm. The monitoring team responds by dispatching the police to the home’s address.
That basic security system presented two challenges to Mr. Burglar: 1) silence the alarm and 2) make sure the cops never get the message. Burglars realized their solution was easy enough: Just cut the phone line! Most home land-lines are easily accessible from the outside of the house. Mr. Burglar finds the line, snips it with wire cutters, and no longer has to fear any rude interruptions from the local police. He will probably also smash the alarm system’s control box once he gets inside the house, so he won’t be distracted by the racket from the alarm siren. Now he can go about his work in peace and quiet.
Cellular Alarm Systems to the Rescue
It takes only seconds to cut a phone line. But you can’t cut a cell signal. So how do you make a safer security alarm system? Make it cellular. While the security dinosaurs contentedly conducted business as usual, industry pioneers changed the game. Today’s safer alarm systems have a cellular signaling device built into the control box. The signal is secure and virtually tamper-proof. And the many homeowners who now choose to use their mobile phone as their primary communication device, no longer have to purchase a land-line in order to have a functioning security alarm system.
Security at Your Fingertips
Cellular technology was a major break-through for the security industry, but the innovations didn’t stop there. A plethora of useful technology was available to the industry, for anyone ambitious enough to take advantage of it. Wireless technology, for example, could bring additional benefits to the alarm system customer, beyond the obvious safety benefit. Alarm systems that are 100% wireless include security sensors that communicate with the control unit without being physically wired together. This equipment is small, discrete and extremely flexible. Customers can place it wherever they like in their home, and move it any time. It is very easy to set up. If the alarm system is both wireless and cellular, customers no longer need to schedule a technician for installation, because there is no complex wiring required at all, and no drilling through walls. Customers maintain greater privacy, without the hassle of waiting for a technician’s visit, and they avoid paying any installation fee.
So, in today’s world a security alarm system can be both safer and simpler than anything on the market just ten years ago. But consumers now expect a smarter system as well. These consumers have computers and smartphones to bring them the information and connectivity they need, in the form of emails, texts and even videos. They expect their alarm system to keep them informed, using those types of readily-available technologies. The answer: interactive security systems.
Today’s smart alarm system is designed for remote control and information exchange. The user can access the system controls over any device connected to the internet. They can enter commands, such as arm and disarm, and they can customize the system to take better advantage of the interactive features. The system can send them alerts any time there is sensor activity at the home – whether the sensor has detected an intrusion, or the presence of potentially dangerous elements such as smoke or water. The alerts will reach the customer almost instantly, via text or email. The security system can also alert the customer to issues such as a power outage at the home.
Other exciting innovations in home security include advanced features such as video and home automation. Wireless security cameras placed strategically throughout the home, provide a live video feed 24/7, over the internet. The more sophisticated security systems will also record video clips any time a sensor triggers at the home, and store these clips for the homeowner to view on demand. Customers love the video feature not only for the added security and peace of mind, but also to help them stay connected with activity at the home (children and pets) while they’re away.
Advanced alarm systems also offer home automation features, to help customers control elements such as lighting and thermostats. Users access these controls over the internet, so they can change their settings and schedules any time, regardless of where they are. These features add comfort and convenience, while saving on utility costs. They are especially useful during trips away from home, or for customers who own vacation property.
The landscape of the home security industry has changed, and consumers are eagerly reaping the benefits. Any company that is not prepared to offer the technological advances that customers now expect will soon find their market share decreasing sharply.