Residential Monitoring Stretches Security to Home Automation
a&s International | Date:
Telecoms are offering remote video packages to homeowners, bundling Internet access with video monitoring. This is an affordable option but not necessarily the most secure one. “Remote monitoring systems have been around for many years and there are many different ways the service can be delivered to the end customer,” Kelly said. “But the service has to be tailored to the type of alarm being monitored. For example, you would not simply want to receive a text message if your house is on fire. However, a text message could be a good option for a lower priority alarm, like open and close signals.”
Hosted video options are particularly attractive to homeowners. They can simply run a camera to their network, without the hassle of configuring a DVR. “They just run the camera to wall, connect it to a modem, detect the IP address and you're good to go,” said Christopher Brackett, GM of AlarmSoft.
The company recently launched a hosted video offering and built a new server farm to store video. However, it will not do alarm monitoring. “Our bandwidth is going to increase as the client base increases,” Brackett said. “We have a calculator for how many megapixels and how many cameras. For 50 to 100 cameras, we have to open the pipe wider.”
For existing alarm-monitoring centers, they must overhaul their equipment and software platform to incorporate mobile devices. “The world is moving toward mobile services,” said Morgan Hertel, VP and GM for Mace Central Station. “You've got to handle two fronts, from the mobile device side, but also from people who are mobile. There are changes to the mobile infrastructure and how to send data.”
More powerful mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are changing user habits. “More people have smartphones and are monitoring their home remotely,” Pyle said. “Or they can log on through their computer to check on the status of their home. You can control the door lock to let service people into your home.”
However, remote video must be secured, requiring a dedicated network that is not generally available. “Your customers can extract data from your cloud, but it's not a hosted service,” Kelly said. “It's sensitive data.”
Clocking Fast Responses
For any alarm, homeowners want to know how soon emergency services will respond. A key benchmark for an alarm-monitoring service is its response time. “We're typically responding in less than 10 seconds,” Pyle said. “Our system is based on GSM, so we're able to have two-way communication. We can help with basic medical assistance until we get the call routed to medical. If there's an intruder in the home, we can come over the two-way communication (to ask) for a secure password from the owner and know if there's an intruder in the home.”
Time is of the essence in medical emergencies. Personal emergency response systems provide ailing family members one-click access to medical help. “For seniors, we have a medical pendant they can press to remotely trigger an alarm if they have a medical emergency need,” Herrick said.
In the event homeowners are held captive by intruders, they may be forced to disarm the alarm system. “In such a scenario, a duress code activated by the disarming person will trigger the monitoring station to alert the police,” Yap said.