How Alarm Dealers Can Mix in More DIY/MIY Integration

Learn practical tips to capitalize on DIY/MIY customers through programming pizzazz.

THE GOOD NEWS is that do-it-yourself/monitor-it-yourself (DIY/MIY) smart systems technology is quickly becoming lower in cost and higher in technical capability and consumer adoption. The bad news is that as an alarm dealer, this is your new competitive environment. In the past we saw these DIY fads come and go mainly due to marketing hype, complexity and poor performance. Today that world has changed on a grand scale.

Leeo Lends Insight Into World of Smart Devices
Recently I had the opportunity to review a product called the Leeo Smart Alert ( On the surface this device looks like a fancy nightlight that can change colors. However, dig deeper and you will find a curious device that has to do with the monitoring of existing life-safety products such as your local battery-operated smoke, CO and water alarms.

Not only has it been interesting reviewing this product, but also observing the social media-savvy organization that developed the Leeo. The concept is simple. The device accurately detects the unique temporal beeping alarm sounds of the sensor. Then, via local WiFi, the Smart Alert will report the event to a dedicated app on the customer’s smartphone. Once alerted, a brief recording of the detector can be replayed for audio confirmation. Then it is the responsibility of the homeowner to dispatch the appropriate authorities.

If the homeowner does not respond to the notification then the system will try to contact via phone other friends and neighbors that have been created as emergency contacts. I find the app-based concept of life-safety alarm notification novel but not practical overall. We in the industry realize the importance of fast and accurate 24/7 professional alarm monitoring, especially in the case of fire emergencies. This is where opportunities for the alarm professional exist.

Online Integration Services Can Make You Attractive
When discussing security services with a sales prospect there has to be a new leading question: “Do you presently own and operate any smart system devices?” If they do, then you may want to make the possibility of integrating their existing equipment into your offered products and services. After all, they have already made a technology investment.

Convincing your prospect of professional monitoring should not be much of a challenge; now educate them and sell them. An example would be the Leeo device I have been discussing. One of the product’s current shortcomings is it has no direct automated way to be professionally monitored. However, there are third-party services that can be easily used to integrate some smart system and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. In this case, a free online service called If This Then That (IFTTT, see inset Tool Tip) can report the Leeo smoke alarm as an automated email.

There are presently some central stations that will monitor an email notification. If done properly, the alarm dealer will have at least converted the homeowner’s Leeo Smart Alert to a new monthly monitored account with very little effort.

Let’s briefly look at a few of these exciting online integration services:

IFTTT – Super easy to use, and free. Presently supports 320 popular devices. Programmable scripts are called “recipes.” Recipes made by others can be browsed for new ideas. Works with Android and iOS devices. On Android, IFTTT and a program called Tasker are similar.

Zapier – Similar to IFTTT, and also free, but recipes are called “zaps.” Focuses more on business app integration. Supports multiple actions, compared to IFTTT which only supports one action. Does not have mobile apps. A paid version ($20/month) includes access to all 500+ app integrations and multistep zaps.

Microsoft Flow – This is the newest kid on the block. It appears somewhat limited at this time. The biggest strength is integrating with Microsoft apps and services. In beta, but worth keeping an eye on.

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About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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