Demand for smart systems is evident across a wide range of markets and research shows this isn’t going to slow down. Flexibility, mobility, added value, integration and simple connectivity are all benefits end users require when purchasing a smart security solution.
The speed of change in current technology development has seen some widespread disruption in the security and smart technology sectors. The fact that a huge number of disruptive technologies are emerging simultaneously is indicative of the capabilities being made available by modern processing options.
The security sector, and specifically the intruder alarm sector, now faces a disruptive technology in the form of smart building and smart home systems that offer a degree of security. Adoption figures show customers are moving to these smart systems. The users are made up of existing security system owners and those who previously did not have alarm systems. This indicates the new breed of intruder alarms have customer appeal.
The intruder alarm sector existed as a somewhat isolated part of the electronic security industry for many decades. The intruder alarm was, by design, kept separate from other systems in a building, and standards were written which enforced that isolation. Adherence to the standards was pushed by insurance industry and police requirements.
Just as the technology used in the security industry has changed in recent years, so have practices in the insurance and law enforcement worlds. While some end users still require graded alarm systems which are compliant with standards, many do not. They instead want to specify levels of protection based upon their own risk assessments. However, more importantly, they want smarter systems that integrate with other devices and deliver specific business benefits.
While end users are sudden;y demanding flexibility and connectivity, professional systems have been able to deliver monitoring and control via applications for many years, but the message hasn’t reached a sizeable percentage of potential customers.
Integration with appropriate IoT devices is another benefit that users are increasingly demanding. Ironically, the ability to switch powered devices has been supported by intruder alarm systems for many years, and partnerships with other security companies mean that most credible professional security systems make adding peripheral devices a simple task.
Options include lighting controllers, access control, video door entry, speech annunciators plus a host of peripheral sensors and appliance interfaces. This, coupled with automation add-ons, makes professional alarm systems more capable than the wave of other headline-grabbing smart products. However, the message that this depth of functionality is available from professional alarm systems seems not to have been delivered to potential customers.
In terms of functionality and features, which in turn equate to everyday benefits and value for the end user, professional intruder alarm systems which incorporate automation and smart building control stack up very well against other smart offerings. Indeed, they outperform such systems on virtually every level.
For example, one feature that many consumers think is game-changing is IFTTT (if this, then that). This concept is that when a specified criteria is met, an action automatically takes place. Of course, security systems have had this level of functionality for many years. Based upon simple Boolean logic, security manufacturers, installers and integrators know this as Rules-based actions, or AND/OR logic.
The smart buildings market offers systems that underperform in comparison to some of the security-centric offerings and have less proven track records. Indeed, some ‘leading’ innovators in the smart building sector have withdrawn systems from the market in recent years, leaving the early adopters with rather expensive but non-functional solutions.
Despite this, the added edge of customer awareness in smart building systems is delivering growth figures that simply are not matched in the security industry, although security solutions are superior.
The one area where security systems with smart automation fall behind smart building systems is with regard to market awareness. The technology brands have significantly deeper pockets when it comes to advertising, and also enjoy established communications with the final customer.
Growth in the smart building systems market is happening right now. IoT devices and sensors are widely available. Interestingly, reports from the IoT sector show that video and security will be two of the more demanded elements of smart buildings. New entrants to the market are launching devices that deliver automation, smart functionality and security.
There is a positive side to this. Much as the almost incessant marketing of HDTV made the switch from composite to digital video easier as end users understood the quality improvements, so the promotions of smart buildings and artificial intelligence are piquing the interest of many potential commercial and industrial customers.
The missing link is that few of them are aware professional intruder alarm systems can offer the full gamut of smart benefits, and can perform the tasks well, often better (and certainly more reliably) than the tech-based market alternatives.
Due to the critical nature of security, professional intruder detection systems include stable software and hardware, reliable connectivity, flexible signalling and communications, plus an array of proven sensors and peripheral devices. Where wireless connections are used, these are significantly more reliable than Wi-Fi and often include supervision to ensure links are not lost.
Conversely, many of the smart building systems make use of Wi-Fi links and use generic software and drivers to enable a wider range of connectivity. Often disparate parts of a system require separate smartphone or tablet apps. Importantly, there are also customer concerns regarding support. If several independent devices do not interoperate, who is to blame? Being passed from one manufacturer to another, with each blaming the others, is a frustrating but not uncommon experience.
Many tech-based brands only offer technical support on-line, if at all, and for new devices, resources can be thin on the ground. This is where using a professional installer or integrator pays dividends, as they offer support and maintenance for the entire system.
Another area where professional intruder systems excel over consumer market offerings is with regard to security. Intruder detection systems are designed to be secure. It is a primary concern, and their inherent security is designed into the product from day one. It is only when the system is proven to be secure and reliable that consideration is given to adding features and functions.
Smart building systems are designed with the intention of providing advanced functionality coupled with ease of installation. These products then have security added once the functionality and ease of use has been implemented, and because of this the onus is on the customer to enforce whatever security has been added to the device.
In the commercial sector, the professional intruder alarm system includes value-added benefits that customers are demanding. By highlighting these, integrators will be able to offer smart and flexible solutions customers are happy to invest in.