The Intelligent Router
The smart home industry has exploded with new technology devices
- By Abe Schryer
- Jul 28, 2017
The security market is changing. The smart home category has exploded and with it, so has the availability of countless wireless devices designed for the home security category including: smart thermostats, smoke alarms, surveillance cameras, sensors and more. Growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) has impacted almost every industry today – including the security channel. The move to add connectivity to most devices in our homes and businesses has prompted a major shift from traditional analog to digital and IP-based installations in the security market.
Prior to the IoT revolution, innovation in the security market was relatively stagnant, with dealers installing closed-loop analog-based security systems in households and businesses across the country. Though legacy security systems are still in use by many, the home security market is quickly advancing thanks to companies producing smart devices that aim to make the smart home safer and more secure. According to Parks Associates, more than one-fourth of U.S. broadband households currently own a smart home device of some kind, and half of all homeowners with a security system own one.
So what does this mean for the security dealer? Now more than ever, customers are looking to cut the cords and subscribe to flexible, connected technologies and services that make sense for their lifestyle. The demand for IP-based security systems is growing and to stay relevant, security professionals need to be able to offer and install solutions that best suit their existing customers base and a potential new generation of customers.
Many dealers have already started to move some of their business from analog to wireless as IP-based video networking, access control and alarm panels have become more common in the industry. While it is true those systems give an installer access to a customer’s network, there still remains a number of disparate devices connected to most systems that the dealer cannot configure, control or monitor.
So where should a dealer start migrating their business to be able to install fully IP-based systems? The staple of the home network is the router and today’s router is being reinvented as a central point of communication for IP-based security systems. By its very nature, the router is able to see and find the most efficient path between all of the wireless devices on the network, and then allows them to communicate with one another – a necessity for today’s smart home. Cyber security is a growing concern in the security industry and the router is also able to act as an intermediary between the outside world and an internal network, making it easier to secure devices. Some routers even feature a built-in firewall to offer an additional layer of security.
In order to maximize security and ensure device health and system connectivity, the dealer needs to own and have full control of the router, network and software. But not all routers are created equal. Typical home or small business signal routers are often pre-defined and only feature a single connection to the internet. This means if and when the network goes down, the synced devices are either offline until the network is fixed, or in the case of some small businesses, a second back-up line with a modem connection is required to keep the system online – a major recurring expense to say the least.
Similarly, for residential installations, if a device such as a smart smoke detector is hooked up to the home network and the internet connection is lost when no one is home, the end user doesn’t know that their house is on fire until it’s too late. Timely information is critical and while customers often want to add the newest smart devices to their system, they don’t always have the appropriate back-up connections in place to guarantee their devices are always online and capable of sending alerts when a problem occurs.
To stay ahead of the curve, security professionals should look for more ubiquitous options beyond the standard router that offer modularity and the capability to offer back-up connections. For example, Observables offers a product called IOBOT that is the industry’s first intelligent router featuring a modular design that enables dealers to customize configurations to serve customers across vertical markets. IOBOT also provides back-up connections such as terrestrial, cellular and satellite connectivity – an industry first – for virtually any security panel on the market. Persistent connection options give customers peace of mind that their property is being monitored at all times even if a phone line is disrupted or the Wi-Fi network is down.
With the boom in smart devices, end users and dealers alike have also been forced to use one-off apps to control various devices on the network. Some intelligent routers allow installers to add personality connectivity such as Z-Wave, Bluetooth, ZigBee, or others to help dealers unify disparate systems. Routers with this kind of functionality enable a user to monitor and control various connected devices in a home or building regardless of brand, all from one singular platform.
Not only do IP-based systems simplify interconnecting devices, they make for a quicker install compared to analog systems. Gone are the days of fishing and running wires to every contact point and sensor throughout an entire property. IP-based systems give dealers much more visibility into issues and can often troubleshoot and resolve problems remotely without ever having to step foot on the customer’s property.
Adopting new technology offerings might be off putting to some dealers, but the benefits to their business far outweigh any challenges. Consider the fact that most traditional analog security systems include multiple disparate hard-wired devices that each serve a single purpose and thus limit what an installer is able to control from the field. Anytime there is a problem with a customer’s system, it requires at least one service call and truck roll, which can be a waste of time and money. The right router can provide holistic and integrated connection for the user as well as simplified integration, backend diagnostics with self-healing, minimized inventory, and even offer a new RMR opportunity for the dealer.
IP-based systems are the future of the security market and intelligent routers are at the heart of that evolution. At the rate the security market is changing, it is critical for dealers to stay educated on the latest router technologies and ensure they are offering flexible and secure solutions that best serve the varying needs of their customers.