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The connected home is here to stay

Our homes are becoming living, breathing, speaking organisms a buzz with device-controlled door locks, thermostats, shades, video cameras, garage doors, etc. that produce the ability to open and close window shades and garage doors, allow people access into your home via a one-time access code and keep watch on your home—all from mobile devices. We can be anywhere and still monitor our homes. Becoming extinct are metal door keys, wall-controlled thermostats, opening and closing blinds by hand and waiting until the homeowner returns to watch surveillance video.

As security manufactures up the ante in the arena of the connected home, producing products that easily integrate to create systems that protect as well as make interacting with the home easier, dealers need to become more educated as to what this means for them. According to BI Intelligence, a research service from Business Insider, connected-home device sales will drive over $61 billion in revenue this year. That number will climb at a 52 percent compound annual growth rate to reach $490 billion in 2019.

“Connected smart home technology is no longer the stuff of the Jetsons,” said Jorge Hevia, SVP, Napco. “It’s the business of connected home dealers and the security space.”

It’s time for security dealers to embrace the connected home.

The Essential Piece of the Connected Home

To understand the possibilities that dealers have, it’s important to know exactly what a connected home system consists of, starting with the basics.

There must be a secure Internet connection to thwart the possibilities of attacks, hacks and thefts as the “bad people” are getting more and more sophisticated by the day. Most people today have wireless routers; therefore, here are some basic tips to ensure your customer’s wireless routers are secure:

  • Router name: Change the default ID to a unique name that is difficult for others to guess.
  • Pre-set password: Create a new password that consists of a long string of capital and lower case letters in addition to numbers and symbols in an order that is unique.
  • Security: Opt for WPA2 (if available) or WPA as they are more secure than the WEP option.
  • Guest password: If this option is available and your customer has frequent visitors in their home, set up a guest network.
  • Firewall: This software is like a guard constantly scanning for attempts to access the system and in defense, blocks communications with sources that are not permitted.

Once a safe Internet connection is established, now it’s time for security dealers to jump in and start talking security options before customers select from the seemingly limitless options to create a one-of-a-kind “living” home that functions for your customer’s daily life. After all, the main goal is to provide a safe and secure environment for customers.

Adding Security

When adding the component of security to the connected home, dealers must know their customers to determine what they want and ultimately deliver what they need. Some top security additions to the connected home is the ability to receive smoke/fire alerts; carbon monoxide/gas leak alerts; water leak alerts; doors/window opened alerts; electricity usage control of electrical outlets, all of which increase personal security.

Connected homes should have a home security system that includes a security control panel so that during an emergency, a monitoring company will be contacted using standard cellular connections. It may also be wise to incorporate phone lines as backup as well as broadband connectivity for video streaming.

“iBridge Connected Home Services provides an affordable add-on to any Napco Gemini security system,” Hevia said. “While the traditional security system remains behind the scenes, the consumer interface doesn’t have to be a security component or keypad at all - it can simply be their favorite smartphone or tablet instead.”

Next, think of doors and windows that need motion sensors to track activity and movement throughout the home. These sensors can also be used to alert when certain doors are opened. And, while we’re on the subject of motion sensors, think video cameras inside and outside of the home. This allows customers to see real-time video or still images on their device of choice, so it may also be important that the camera has night vision as well as pan-tilt-zoom for a wider viewing area and more control of what is able to be seen. Other safety sensors to consider are smoke and fire, carbon monoxide and flooding.

By layering other automation features, dealers can further increase security for their customers. The ability for home owners to turn lights on and off as well as dim them based on a predetermined schedule or from their connected device can help to deter burglars while saving on the energy bill. By lighting homes at night, burglars are less likely to break in from fear of being easily seen, and it gives the illusion that the homeowner may be inside their home. Another element to consider for enhanced safety and security is programmable door locks as they can be monitored and remotely activated. With these locks, homeowners are able to give time-sensitive key codes to guests—the baby sitter, dog walker, maid, plumber—to open the front door, allowing controlled access into the customer’s home environment. “

With the iBridge App and any smart device, consumers can use whatever they’re already comfortable using to control security, video, temperature, small appliances, ‘Scenes’ and more,” Hevia said. “The new iBridge Messenger takes that a step further and even adds SMS text notifications and reminders, plus live video alerts, which adds to the professional security dealers’ arsenal of salable, attractive connected home services.”

Perhaps another useful feature to add to a connected home is thermostat control, allowing the homeowner to easily adjust the heating and cooling of their home. Also, a unique idea is connecting the home to the garage door so that when the homeowner pulls into their driveway their garage door senses the homeowner’s Smartphone or device and automatically opens, giving immediate garage access. There’s even the ability to control faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms as well as electrical outlets from Smartphones and other devices; however, designing a connected home should be based on security first and pleasure and convenience second.

How to Get St arted in the Connected Home Market

The great news is that the time is now for security dealers who are eager to enter the connected home market.

market, ahead of the curve, is now, because consumer demand for connected home systems, inclusive of security, is already all over mainstream media,” said Hevia, citing the example that as part of USA Today’s CES show coverage, they projected the number of U.S. households with connected smart home systems to be over 15 million in less than 5 years.

“The longer a security dealer waits to transition into connected home services, the hotter the competition,” Hevia said. “And, not just from Telcos and cable companies, but from DIY and self-monitored systems that are already in great supply down the aisles of Lowes, Home Depot, even Costco.”

Because of this retail market penetration, security dealers have even more of a reason why they should exploit their security expertise to help consumers make educated decisions about security and the connected home. Therefore, when seeking manufacturers to work with in the connected home vertical, it’s important to determine that the manufacturer:

  • Creates a superior product;
  • Offers a robust support system, complete with training, marketing help and field support
  • Provides other dealers as references for you to contact; and
  • Listens to dealers concerns and suggestions, acting upon them appropriately when necessary.

“Security dealers should insist on a professional, integrated system offering verses a ‘quicky’ unit that mimics the look, feel and low know-how to install one of those do-it-yourself systems,” Hevia said.

Napco offers a truly integrated, professional-caliber system and continues to showcase their expertise to provide superior security and convenience to their new customers as well as their long-time, loyal customers with the iBridge Connected Home Dealer Program. According to Hevia, Napco is the first and only manufacturer offering a full turn-key connected home dealer program.

“At Napco, we feel strongly about protecting our security dealers and helping them grow in this great new marketplace,” Hevia said. “The iBridge Connected Home Dealer Program comes complete with training, customizable products and apps, preferred partner discounts, co-op advertising, marketing and more.”

As a security dealer, are you still trying to decide if the connected home vertical is right for you? Consider this: There’s a strong, definable reason why the giant Google spent over $500 million buying Nest and Dropcam, not to mention the cable and phone companies “practically falling all over themselves to get into security.”

“Connected homes are the game-changing, watershed moment for the professional security dealer looking to grow their business exponentially,” Hevia said. “Technology and consumer demand have met at an intersection, and security professionals are already there.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Security Today.

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