Homeowners want their families and belongings to be safe. Residential monitoring delivers added security, along with helpful services such as home automation.
Residential monitoring was hurt by the recession, as home sales and new home construction slowed. However, this has not stopped growth completely, said Gary Perlin, Director of CCTV Products, Tri-Ed/Northern Video Distribution.
Across the channel, the UK riots have resulted in greater demand for home alarm monitoring. “Residential is really coming in quite quickly; it's growing quicker in the last six months than in the last three years,” said Dominic White, Head of the UK Customer Service Centre, ADT Security Services. “There are hundreds of people connecting to us each week.”
Alarm signals for homes typically reach to the same control center as commercial signals. However, equipment differences and priorities mean alarms are not handled the same way. “We created a security and home automation platform with partner 2Gig,” said Craig Pyle, Product Development Manager, Vivint. “Originally we provided security services and products to our customers, but with technical advancements and hardware prices coming down, access, lighting, heating and cooling control can be added seamlessly to the platform.”
Should a door or window be opened, an alarm signal is sent to partner Alarm.com, then is relayed to Vivint's central monitoring station. The status of nonalarm signals, such as heating, cooling or lighting, can be viewed from a homeowner's Web account or mobile device. “With the infrastructure in place, we look to provide additional services going forward,” Pyle said.
Alarm monitoring for homes depends on availability, reliability and security of telecom networks and infrastructure as the communication channels, said Tye-San Yap, GM of Certis Cisco Security.
The idea of a video camera watching in one's home is seeing more acceptance among end users. However, these implementations require authorizing who can view the footage. “Our in-home cameras provide the customer with the opportunity to get a live remote view of their home through their computer or smartphone,” said Megan Herrick, Public Relations Director for Vivint. “Even if you do have a camera in the home, Vivint does not have access to view what's happening in the home. Only the homeowner has the authorization to view the cameras.”
Video verification provides clear proof of whether an intruder has broken in, or if the family pet accidentally triggered an alarm. “On a daily basis, video receiving centers will deal with 7,000 alarms a day, mostly at night,” White said. “A very small percentage of that we will send out police. It's probably an order of two or three, and on weekends, maybe a little more at night. All the activity caused by animals or wind, we screen all that out on behalf of the customer.”
Best practice is critical for effective alarm and video monitoring, said Tony Allen, Chairman of the Security Equipment Manufacturers Section, British Security Industry Association (BSIA). “Tremendous strides have been made over the last decade to eliminate the ‘cowboy operators' who were damaging the industry's reputation. According to recent research carried out by the BSIA, less than 1 percent of alarm activations in the U.K. are now false, which equates to there being as few as one false alarm every five years.”