Smart Systems: The Automation Upsell
End users are increasingly demanding smart solutions and if the security market isn’t going to offer them, then people will go elsewhere. To underline just how important this sector is, in 2017 spending in Western Europe on smart devices and systems was close to £10 billion. Experts are forecasting that this figure will rise to £18 billion in the next five years. The market is accelerating and acceptance of technology is growing. This could represent significant growth for installers and integrators who are taking advantage of the new breed of intruder alarm systems.
As pointed out in last month’s Benchmark, the growth in smart automation, whether you call it smart homes, intelligent buildings, connected systems, integrated solutions 0r the Internet of Things, smart homes, intelligent buildings, is significant. Across a wide range of markets, from residential and lifestyle consumer through to business, industry and critical infrastructure, these systems are delivering real-world benefits that end users recognise and appreciate.
The drivers for adoption are varied, but no matter their source, the security market as a whole can take advantage of them. A great example comes from the networked video surveillance market.
For many years, the basis of CCTV was composite video with a 4:3 aspect ratio. As a result, surveillance monitors displayed 4:3 images, lenses were rated for 4:3 image capture and recording systems were optimised to archive 4:3 recordings.
When networked surveillance became a reality, nearly every manufacturer started to design and manufacture megapixel cameras. Because of legacy devices, these megapixel cameras were predominantly 4:3 aspect ratio.
The new megapixel devices were good quality, delivered fantastic images with sharp detail and good colour rendition. They were a significant step forwards.
At that time, another sea-change in video was taking place. HD video was the new kid on the block in terms of consumer television. There were few sources of broadcast HDTV and those that were available were largely HD720p. HD televisions were starting to become affordable (albeit again predominantly HD720p). The push from media providers, consumer electronics manufacturers and electrical retailers was all about the virtues of HDTV.
What happened as a result was that the public understanding of HD skyrocketed. End users didn’t want 1.3 or 3 megapixel video surveillance; they wanted HD video surveillance. HD720p video was more in demand than megapixel video, despite the fact that HD720p video was less than one megapixel in resolution.
Despite the video surveillance sector designing and building some excellent products, customer demand was for HD and the biggest driver behind that was marketing in the consumer sector. As things turned out, the market demand was vindicated. HDTV’s increased acceptance resulted in economies of scale, which meant many peripherals from outside of the security market became affordable and widely available.
It has to be accepted that when many manufacturers made an argument for developing 4:3 megapixel devices, there was some degree of sense in their thinking. However, because market perceptions were that HD was better than megapixel technology, that became the de facto format of choice.
Just as users were more willing to invest in systems that used HD technology when they were more expensive, so today’s users are more willing to invest in systems that include smart elements such as device automation, appliance control, remote reporting, management via a smart device, etc..
Acceptance of such systems is widespread and shows no signs of abating. Many end users are sourcing such systems from outside of the security sector. These devices and systems are not built with the reliability and robust nature of security systems, but even issues such as cybersecurity, inconsistent operation and frustrations with integrations are accepted by customers because the benefits on offer fit so well with their lifestyle or business operations.
One element of smart intruder alarm systems is the potential for increased sales. If you consider an average residential intruder alarm system, how many devices are included alongside the control panel?
Typically there might be anything from one up to half a dozen detectors. There will also be one or two keypads and sounders, plus magnetic contacts for entry/exit points. This means a requirement for an 8 or 16 zone panel.
With a typical basic security system offering nothing but home monitoring, it has to be accepted that the ‘perception’ of many customers is that the system will only prove to be beneficial when an incident occurs. In short, their understanding of its value hinges on its support during a negative occurrence. This means that some customers will be unwilling to increase their investment. Selling additional devices will prove to be difficult.
This situation changes significantly as soon as you consider a system that not only provides security but also offers smart automation, appliance control and management of home or business systems. If additional devices are required to implement everyday benefits, they become significantly easier to sell.
A scalable solution
The Texecom Connect platform offers a wide range of additional benefits to users including many of the sought-after smart options. It also ticks one of the main boxes with regard to end user expectations: a reliable wireless platform.
Because Texecom Connect is based upon the Premier Elite range of professional intruder control panels, it uses the proven Ricochet wireless mesh network for secure communications. It is worth noting that one criticism many users have of the consumer-based smart home systems is that they rely on standard WiFi and connections are therefore sometimes sketchy. As Texecom Connect uses a robust and supervised wireless technology, it is a plus-point.
However, the fact that wireless Premier Elite control panels have enhanced flexibility due to capacity upgrades means it is both easy and cost-effective to add devices to enhance smart functionality.
By way of an example, it is best practice to include contacts on all external doors and windows. Despite being cost-effective, this is rarely done with many end users making cost-based rather than risk-based decisions on which windows to protect.
However, if an additional contact or two are required to trigger an automation scenario, for example automatically switching a courtesy light or delivering a push-notification if a fridge or freezer is not properly closed, then the additional cost will meet with less resistance. This is because smart automation is desirable and holds a perceived value for the customer.
While it may seem counter-intuitive that knowing a freezer has been left open or switching lighting automatically is more important – in terms of perceived value to the user – than protecting people or property, the reality is that people don’t like to consider the possibility of negative situations. However, the marketing from the consumer sector has convinced the majority of people that smart systems can and will improve their daily lives.
Adding benefits means adding devices; whether they are needed to trigger automation, switch devices or add status information, all can be used for everyday benefits. For example, a credible Premier Elite alarm system can easily be upgraded to offer Texecom Connect functionality.
This can include the addition of external and internal detectors (these might be used to signal occupancy when the alarm is unset and for security when set), additional miniaturised contacts (protecting cupboards, drinks cabinets, fridges, freezers, etc., as well as door and windows), push-buttons for manual implementation of recipes and modes, smart plugs which allow appliances or devices to be switched in response to an event of manually via the customer’s Texecom Connect app, etc..
Recognising this, Texecom has upgraded its wireless Ricochet-enabled Premier Elite panels to support up to 64 zones as standard. This allows installers and integrators to add smart functionality in line with growing end user demands and expectations.
Much as happened with HD in the video surveillance sector, the Googles, Amazons, Apples, Microsofts and nVidias of this world are investing a huge amount of money and resources in driving demand for smart automation. Recent acquisitions in the security sector have underlined that the big players in intelligent buildings and cities recognise the strengths of security technology for such roles.
Implementing a Texecom Connect smart system adds value for the user, but because of the high capacity of Premier Elite wireless panels it ensures additional devices can be added with any hardware upgrade. In short, the control panel has been engineered with a smarter system in mind.