In the Palm of Your Hand
Mobile technology helps secure the future of security
- By Brad McMullen
- Sep 01, 2017
In our current culture, smartphones and tablets are everywhere.
With more than 220 million users in United States alone, it’s
nearly impossible to find someone who doesn’t own a smart mobile
device. The growth continues with an additional 10 million
users expected to be added annually through 2021. Mobile
phones are no longer used primarily for making phone calls, but instead,
are portals to consume information, communicate with others
and interact with the world around us while on the move. This rapid
adoption of smart mobile devices and technological advancement of
this small device has led to the rapid rise of the development of mobile
These mobile apps now offer solutions in virtually every market
and industry: banking, ride sharing, shopping, navigation and, yes,
security. The security industry has seen rapid growth in the use of
apps to enable security solutions. For every customer need, there is a
budding idea for a mobile solution.
Ideation to Application. With more than 2.2 million apps on the
Apple App Store, there’s clearly demand for mobile solutions and
talented professionals who can bring mobile apps to the market.iii
One may ask where all the ideas originate for these applications. The
foundation of many apps is a mobile-friendly version of an existing
Many times these types of mobile apps provide only the features
of the desktop site that are in demand and well suited for a mobile
user. The existing desktop solution may work well, but is not mobile
device friendly and may be too feature-rich for what a mobile user
needs in a mobile app on the go. In developing the mobile version,
the developer will balance simplicity, ease of use, and functionality
vs. the comprehensive desktop solution. Another key area of ideation
for mobile apps is the end user themselves. Many organizations focus
on voice of customer feedback to understand the wants and needs of
the users who interact with their business.
Whether it is through focus groups, online communities, surveys
or ongoing interactions, listening to the pain points and frustrations
of the customer drives the concept of the solution. These solutions
are delivered via a mobile application to help accomplish the goals
of their audience.
Once the concept and use case for the idea has been proven, the
design and development of the app can begin. The Agile development
methodology is the leading way apps are created today. In this
methodology, it is important to select a Minimal Viable Product
(MVP) scope to focus on and bring to market as quickly as possible.
Getting the application into the hands of real users is the best way to
know if value is being created for them with the solution. Once in the
market, user feedback will help the team understand the needs of the
user and prioritize future feature development.
Developers then work to bring the top requests to market quickly
through an app update. This feedback loop creates a cycle of ongoing
improvement which continues after the app has launched, making it
a “living and breathing” product. A big advantage of mobile apps
is the ease of “pushing” data to the mobile phone users who have
downloaded or subscribed to the app. This ability to keep the app’s
users updated in near real time with important data is a major benefit
for users of mobile apps. In what other ways could security apps be
useful for end users?
Real Time Access to Information. Mobile security apps allow users
to access critical information from anywhere in real time—even
while on the go and not at their desktop. Were any store locations
disarmed when they shouldn’t have been? Did all store locations open
on time? Did an employee attempt to access a restricted part of a
building where they were not authorized?
Security mobile apps allow security professionals to answer these
questions and more regarding the security systems across their organization.
Users no longer need to wait to get back to an office or
computer in order to gain access to information, as the robust security
apps can deliver these answers immediately.
Security Notification and Response. Protecting an organization’s
assets is critical and is achieved through a variety of technologies.
With the increase of ownership of smart phones and new applications
in the market, companies can add protection for their most important
assets, including their employees when they are outside the
physical borders of a company. Mobile apps now exist that allow employees
to initiative a duress alert, take audio and video evidence of
the event and have a response process in place to dispatch responders
Simplicity and Convenience. One of the great aspects of mobile
apps is that the best ones are traditionally very easy to use—the
interface is intuitive and the choices are streamlined. What could
take four or five clicks of the mouse on a traditional desktop format
can be accomplished in half the time with a mobile application.
For the security sector, this is important because it expedites critical
changes that need to be made within a security system. Additionally,
because the user can take the phone with them, the app can be
accessed at any time. Regardless if the security professional is conducting
store visits, interacting with a satellite location, or traveling
with executives, the ability to have access to their security system at
their fingertips is impactful.
Integration. For any security professional,
notes, evidence and documentation is critical.
By using mobile apps, professionals not
only have access to a security specific app but
also have access to the contents and applications
of their mobile device. So now pictures,
audio clips, videos and notes that have been
taken with a mobile device can be easily and
efficiently utilized in the specific security app.
A process that once required a full desktop
or laptop with an internet connection can
now be completed with a few swipes on a
A key consideration in using mobile apps
is the security of the application itself. Is
your phone secured from hackers? If someone
gains access to a phone, can they get
into a security app and make changes to a
security system or access sensitive data? As
with any connected devices, precautions
should be taken. First, always make sure the
phone locks after a set time of inactivity. Use
a strong password or the fingerprint reader
to unlock the phone. Second, consider entering
login information for the security app
every time you login to the system. By logging
out of the app, in order for someone to
gain access, they would need to know both
the phone passcode and app account login.
Finally, be cautious what wireless networks
are accessed with the phone to ensure it is
connecting to a secure, trusted network.
As technology continues, the presence of
mobile apps will only continue to grow as
a part of everyday life and as a part of the
security industry. Today, mobile apps allow
users to arm and disarm security systems,
set up alarm systems, control heating/cooling/
lighting aspects of buildings, and access
video recordings of events. In the future,
apps may use facial recognition via phones
for dual authentication to access doors, start
cars or login to computer systems. The possibilities
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Security Today.